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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Emerson chapter.

Thinking back to the large amount of time my 15-year-old self spent invested in the high school adventures of shows like One Tree Hill and Glee, I can still remember the exact image I had created in my mind when preparing to enter what everyone would call “the best four years of your life.” However, when deciding to join the rest of my grade school friends in attending the local all girls Catholic high school, I was immediately met with disappointment when walking through the doors on the first day and realizing I would not be tutoring and falling in love with the star player of the basketball team, or walking through the halls singing “Don’t Stop Believin’.” 

While the movies and TV shows of my adolescence had prepared me for the mean girls, the jocks, the homework, homecoming, the fun weekend adventures with friends, the many sports games, the parties, prom, graduation, and the cheesy love story, nothing prepared me for the very different high school experience I would have from every storyline. 

After playing sports such as basketball and volleyball all throughout grade school, during the fall of my freshman year, my sister and I decided to join the swim team, and it ended up being one of the best decisions I could have made. Being on the swim team had such an impact on my high school experience, as well as who I grew into throughout my four years in high school. Being surrounded by such an amazing group of girls who made the most out of every practice (even when the power went out during a swim set and when the heater broke, leaving us swimming in numbing conditions), I became a part of a sisterhood like no other. Luckily, even when the fall swim season was over, these girls were not going anywhere. This sisterhood would continue into winter when swim had ended and conditioning for water polo began, and would continue throughout the spring season during water polo. With many movies and TV shows leaving me pretty unfamiliar with the athletic aspect of high school for a women’s team, I learned to understand the dedication and constant motivation that being surrounded by such strong female athletes would give me.

One of my favorite things about my high school was the fan section at volleyball games. The effort that the spirit team put into preparing for the volleyball games and organizing the entire student body to come and support the team was incredible and like nothing I had ever seen before. While I had often attended the high school football games when I was younger, I was not used to the extreme energy an entire student body would bring to a game. With everyone decked out in red and yellow beads, feathers, tutus, face paint, tights, and more, everyone always made sure to show their high school pride while dancing and screaming cheers and songs at the top of their lungs. The energy in the bleachers always excited me. It was crazy how supportive students were of their classmates with every person in the bleachers taking on the role of the crazy #1 fan. While my years leading up to high school consisted of imagining myself being a cheerleader at football games, my high school experience with games was quite different and instead consisted of the majority of the school body packing the stands, being as cheesy as possible to cheer on their fellow classmates. It was an amazingly large and powerful group of girls coming together. 

It was always crazy to me how intelligent my classmates were. Coming from a co-ed grade school and going to every class filled with only girls, it was a big adjustment. I was not used to the feeling, but overall, it was something I valued so much in my education. Being surrounded by only girls ensured I was always comfortable participating in class. No one ever felt judged and everyone was welcomed to participate. I was amazed by the effort everyone put into class discussions and their work. Good grades were valued by everyone I knew, which only helped me too put my all into every assignment.

Something I will never take for granted is the network of successful women that my high school gave me. With about 90 percent of the faculty and staff being women, I was constantly surrounded by empowering women that served as examples of success. Seeing past female CEOs, engineers, and more every single day as my teachers, the success of women in the workplace became natural for me to expect for the future. My high school showed me what women are capable of and how I can get there. 

The friends I made through sports, clubs, and organizations  were relationships I did not realize the importance of until my senior year of high school. Throughout the years, I will admit that I often found myself disappointed I was not a part of the high school experience often shown in TV shows. I was not doing crazy things every weekend, and as much as the school tried to stray away from it, it was hard not to feel like I was living in a bubble surrounded by empowering female role models. The absence of guys did contribute to the environment and I could not help but wonder if things would be different if I went to the local public school.

However, when senior year came around, I realized the amazing group of friends I was surrounded by everyday. These were people who pushed each other to excel in academics while also being the most energetic dancers at the high school dances and the most fun for adventures on the weekends. We had built the closest relationships with teachers and faculty members that we even had inside jokes with. I was surrounded by people, who, like me, would have energy even in the morning.

Not until my last year of high school did I realize the type of people that my school created. Attending an all girls school had more of an impact on a person’s character than I thought possible. What I always imagined high school to be ended up being quite different, and this difference was for the better. Girls were not afraid to be themselves or to voice their opinions. They were not afraid to be kind and friends with everyone. There was no popularity contest and no divide. Everyone was friends with each other. Going to an all girls school, I was worried about there being a ton of drama, but was surprised to realize that there was less. Not being around boys, girls acted themselves and weren’t affected by trying to impress the guys.

Although my high school experience was nowhere near comparable to the daily changing lives of the characters of Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl, a smile still manages to cross my face every time I think about my experience in high school. While I did not graduate in a cap and gown or by throwing my cap in the air, I instead walked with my class of 230 in long, white gowns feeling overwhelmed by how many successful women I had entered and would be leaving my four years with. I would remember the crazy volleyball games and the fun moments with classmates, teachers, coaches, and faculty members. Most importantly, I would remember the forever friendships I created and the confident person I grew into from being surrounded by women.

Emerson contributor