Be you!

Editor’s Note: Graduating Northern High School senior Brooklynn Cooper has been serving with distinction as this year’s Teen Editor-in-Chief of the Durham VOICE. For her final column of her high school career, she leaves us all with a lesson in authenticity)


Limits are disliked by the majority of the human race.

We are constantly moving forward to the next big thing, which is why I hate questions with limits.

BrooklynnCooperLorezFINALI recall one college application essay prompt that asked, “What’s one thing people should know by the end of high school?”

At the time, the question angered me. I had not completed high school, and even if I had, high school is a four-year experience! How was I supposed to pick one thing that everyone should know by the time they graduate.

Although I am still a senior in high school, as the time ticks down to receiving my diploma, I feel confident enough to answer that essay prompt.

Considering how young we are, it is not likely that we will know exactly who we are and what we want to be, but we should know how to be ourselves.

I have few regrets in regards to my high school experience, but my biggest one is being consumed by my peers’ opinions of me.

Even though it has been said over and over, things that we think are permanent in high school are only temporary.

For example, most freshmen girls take extreme efforts to look runway-ready every day. However, if you actually stop to think, no one is going to remember if you have an outfit mishap one day. If you look especially nice, there is a high chance that you will receive compliments, but people do not go out of their way to insult someone (if they do, you should know they are not worth your time).

No one is going to look back ten years from now and say, “Remember when Becky’s shoes were two shades darker than her shirt?”

Of course on that day, you will be focused on your mistake, but you are biased to yourself. I used to think that seniors “bummed it” every day because of senioritis, but now I realize that maturing involves being comfortable in one’s own skin. If YOU’RE happy wearing sweatpants to school every day, do it.

Furthermore, compromising your happiness for the sake of your “friends” is not okay.

If you want to join a club that your friends are not interested in, go for it! Most of the time, if they try to belittle you, they are jealous of your ability to step out of your usual friend circle.

In the long run, you will be happy for doing something you enjoy, and you will meet people that share similar interests. It is ultimately a win-win.

In no way am I arguing that teenagers should have everything figured out. I am still trying to choose my major. However, I am saying that we should be comfortable enough to express ourselves without being hindered by other people.

High school is the time to find yourself and experiment. Try the hairstyle that you have been debating over for months, and join that club that none of your friends are in.

You will be much happier knowing that the opportunities did not pass by untouched.​