How high school affects social development

Adults always say what happens in your social life during high school doesn’t matter in the long run, that the majority of the relationships you build in those short four years never last once you graduate. However, what people forget to mention is how all-consuming the social aspect of high school can be. Sure, looking back it can all seem like nothing, but for teenagers, it can become your whole world. 

No matter what age you are, all humans crave acceptance and a sense of belonging. As a teenager, those two components become a critical part of their social life. Often times, developing a sense of belonging means finding a group or clique to fit in to. High school is supposed to be a time to define your own self-identity, but instead all anyone ever does is worry about their social status among their peers. A lot of times maintaining a high social status often means conforming to social norms to avoid standing out in any shape or form. Kathleen Boykin McElhaney, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, says, “The key is finding a group of people with whom you can feel at ease being yourself.” There is no sense of ease or simplicity in changing your personality and conforming to other people’s standards just to ensure that you never find yourself in a vulnerable social state.

I could continue this piece by talking about conformity and the connection between social status and risky behaviors, or I could be more original and tell you how I really think highschool affects social development. We present ourselves to the world as how we want to be perceived, which in most cases is nothing more than a facade. We are so scared of being judged or talked about in any kind of negative light that we hide our true personalities as a way to protect ourselves. I know from personal experience that being your true self without constantly wondering what other people may think takes a lot of grit. The people in highschool who have a strong sense of self, will develop good social and emotional skills and build strong healthy relationships. Brene Brown, a researcher of vulnerability and courage at the University of Houston, once wisely said, “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are.”