Don't Box Me In: High School to the Present

In my 24 years of life, it's been clear to me that some people are out here itching for others to fail. I've learned this through personal experiences and just from observation. I thank the Most High that I don't have that wicked sickness in my heart or soul to celebrate someone else's failure, as if we all aren't human and capable of failure, success, and can't fall on hard times. Even if an individual has done me wrong, I'll take it as their karma, and keep moving, but never be giddy about it.

I was having a conversation with someone I graduated with, let's name them Jacoby, and we were discussing post grad life, entering into adulthood, and some people we attended school with came up in the conversation. After we finished talking, I started thinking about the convo and I came to the conclusion that Jacoby was bitter and sour like a bag of "Lays Vinegar and Salt: potato chips. In high school, Jacoby was one of the students who was somewhat at the top of the class, and would therefore be deemed more "deserving" of success. At my high school and I'm sure at other high schools, not only was getting good grades an indicator of who would be more successful, but also the factor of popularity and looks, especially when it came to us girls. For example the factor of colorism was very discrete but also noticeably practiced by students and staff.

There's already a lot of pressure on high school students, and I attended a predominantly Black student body, private high school that stressed mandatory college acceptance. I made a status about this topic the other day and an old friend and classmate made an excellent point stating that we were put into "imaginary groups" and subtly placed students into failure verses achievers categories. She also stated that this pressure from the competitive climate created a "lasting effect" in a not so great wat, hence why you're reading this post. On some conspiracy theorist shit, I theorize the psychology behind the majority White staff was symbolic to a slave plantation and there were elements of divide and conquer which aided in the climate of failures verses achievers. We can talk about the internal issues in the school and schools similar to it in another post.

Anywho, I came to this conclusion because in the conversation, Jacoby was adamant about trying to figure out how some people were ahead of them in regards to graduating from undegrad, obtaining degrees, starting families, traveling, moving out, and more. I'm not going to sit here and pretend like I haven't gossiped about people I went to school with before, but Jacoby knew everybody's damn business, even folks they didn't converse with back in the day. The issue with Jacoby and people like Jacoby is they thought their grades and popularity in high school would make them a candidate for automatic success while those who didn't get the grades and weren't popular were destined to be average or less than. For people like Jacoby, high school days were the glory days and being in the real world, where one is not applauded all the time is a huge contrast.

Where did we get this idea that how well or how bad you perform academically in high school determines your success for the rest of your life? Where did we get this idea that how popular or unpopular you were determines how far you'll go in life? Why do some of us think that based off a 4 year or less interaction with certain individuals, they're supposed to stay the same forever? In regards to academics, I would never encourage students to slack off and not put effort into their schoolwork, but your academic performance is still not always an indicator of where your life will go. Especially seeing that the educational system designated intellect by memorizing and regurgitating information on tests. I can honestly say everyone that I graduated with was intelligent and talented in some kind of way, even if they weren't straight A students. So trying to determine their success factor in life based off grades is booty. Plus, success is subjective. I know the things other people label as "success" is far from my personal definition of it.

The problem is that people who still expect failure or stagnancy from you based off how they knew you so many years ago are still mentally stuck in high school or mentally stuck in that place where they first interacted with you. The reason why they cannot fathom the fact that you've grown up or have elevated past them is because they're still mentally stuck. The reason they're still wishing revenge over people they had beef with ten years ago is because they're still mentally stuckl. As a matter of fact, why the hell are people trying to determine who's successful, who "won", and who "loss" after a few years after graduating? As if we don't have seventy to sixty more years left on this earth to grow. I'll do you one better; why is it so important to clock other people's successes and failures to internalize and compare? It was okay for the rest of us to celebrate Jacoby at honor roll assemblies, but when it's everyone else's time to shine, their success is questioned. Nothing but pure narcissism.

In my personal high school experience, I was an average student, took a few honors and advanced placement classes, but I was never at the top of the class. Socially, I was considered a funny girl, loud, outspoken (which made me an outcast and disliked in my senior year) hood, and nonetheless unapologetically me. Once I graduated, I started feeling like some people I went to school with wanted me to stay "goofy", to stay in this box. Once I started showcasing my emceeing skills, modeling, taking my art to the next level, and just started growing as a young woman, I noticed it wasn't well received by some. I remember even be questioned "Who you supposed to be?" on a photo shoot picture I posted on Instagram. Being told who I was, who I wasn't by those I remained associates with. I mean, these people had been around me in only one or two settings, I was never close with them, never allowed them into my personal space, and they were telling me about my family, about my personality, and more.

When I got into a relationship, I knew it was official: these people really thought I was some goofy ass chick based off their encounters with me in high school. I remember posting pictures with my boyfriend to get responses of surprise that I was dating and I found it to be very insulting despite the underhanded "friendliness". I questioned why people were surprised I was in a relationship and someone responded that it was because I "never had a boyfriend in high school". Which was very false. I had a few lil' boyfriends back in the day and talked to some cuties. Just because schoolmates didn't know who I was involved with meant nothing. I just didn't publicize who I was dating at the time to y'all nosey heffas.

I felt like those people were comfortable with me just being a character, a damn jack in the box. Someone to laugh at and sometimes with and I kept being shown this with interactions with different people after I graduated. My personality and who I am in general was never one dimensional. I was a "carefree Black girl" before the term was coined. No one knew about the depression I faced in my senior year, no one knew I had been rapping since I was 13 years old. No one knew I was writing movie screenplays, and a huge fan of rock music. No one knew the real me. Sure some things outside of my "comedy" were acknowledged, but the majority of the time it was jokes and laughs. It was revealed to me that I wasn't taken serious. Even if I did let people know who I really was and even after seeing me throughout my journey of growing, some still couldn't process it.

"How could acne faced, loud, ghetto Kendra have a boyfriend?" 
"How could she be modeling?"
"I got better grades than her, how did she graduate before me?" 
"Art? She's has an art business?" 

The real question is, who the fuck am I not to be all of the above and even more based off someone else's short time interacting with me? This statement is not to toot my own horn or promote any arrogance. I'm far from a braggard and I can't stand when other people brag whether subtle or openly, but the facts are the facts: I had evolved and some people I still associated with wanted me to stay stagnant because it made them uncomfortable. I had to cut those people out of my life. I couldn't continue to try to grow while associating with people trying to remind me who I was when I met them and only acknowledging me when it was time for a laugh. I'm always going to be an unknown comedian I think I'm very funny, but I'm more than that, always have been, always will be. Don't get it twisted, in my case this has nothing to do with seeking validation from others, but it is about respect. Respecting my boundaries, respecting me as a person, and my space to grow. My experience revealed to me that when you're an underdog, people really do expect less of you. This is apart of the reason why I always root for the underdog. I love when people crush the status quo and kill the negative expectations of those wishing failure on them.

This society of compare and contrast, compete via photos on social media culture is sick on a certain level and sucking the soul out of people. It's giving folks headaches playing Inspector Gadget trying to put puzzle pieces together to figure out how other people obtained what they have. It's making people stressed out trying to put on a front like they're happy. I give thanks to YHWH that I'm not in the space I was in years ago where I felt I had to prove to people I went to school with how I grew (Yes, I went on an adding spree adding people I went to high school with, not to find out what they were doing, but so they could see my growth. Glad that's over with). I give thanks that I don't make my moves for other people. Even when I was trying to prove a point, I still did me for me. I make my moves them for myself, my legacy, and my future generations. I was blessed when I was a child to be given a vision and shown that my purpose was bigger than people's opinions and prayers for my failure.

Don't look at my social media posts and think I have it all together, I don't promote that, plus I'll never have it "all together" because I'm human, just like you. Don't put me in a box based off the interactions you had with me, I'll always be unapolgetically me, but with continuous elevation, put your damn self in a box. Folk who follow the status quo or popular are not the only ones deserving of success. While people like Jacoby are so busy calculating the blessings (or what they think are blessings) of others, they're blocking they're own. How the hell do you want success but you can't stand to see others become successful? How are you going to achieve success while trying to rationalize and devalue why others are gaining success? Sure some people on social media are faking the funk, but some people are also about that life and making shit happen. You don't have to personally like them, but just be comfortable with the fact that success and living a good life is a free for all and you can't keep putting their past over their head in attempt to hold them hostage from achieving greatness. You are not entitled to success nor are you the judge or distributor of it and you'll never be a winner spewing jealousy. Take the shackles off your mind and expand out of the high school mentality.



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