College Prep

at 11:43 PM

I did it all in high school: I captained a sports team, ran a social justice club, starred in a musical, and maintained a high GPA. And while on paper it seems like I achieved a lot, I missed out on some crucial factors for success -- friends and happiness.

I've always been known as the smart girl; not the fun girl or the cool girl, or even the nice girl, but the smart girl. I wasn't invited to sleepovers or to hang out on weekends. What I thought of as interesting conversation (politics, science, recent news events), everyone else found boring or thought I was showing off. In truth, I was just socially inept. People thought I sounded like a teacher, not a pimple-faced 14-year-old.

As isolation set in, I started to hate going to school. I was depressed, lonely, withdrawn, and truthfully, bored out of my mind. I had no real friends and I just pretended to be OK, to be happy.

To distract myself from those feelings, I threw myself into clubs, sports, musicals and anything else. And things did get better. By senior year, I made some friends and built a bomb resume. Now, in less than a month, I'll leave for my first year at a great college.

Yet worry still lingers. I realize now that despite my efforts, no amount of activities can ward off depression. And no amount of extracurriculars can make a person feel better or more connected.

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In college, if I really want to give myself a chance at happiness, I have to learn to be honest about my mental state and willing to reach out when I need help. I have to be open to finding friends who share my interests so I can build a strong support system. And I'll just have to keep reminding myself that this phase of my life is new, and that this time it can be different.

With a Perspective, I'm Soraya Shockley.

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Soraya Shockly is 18 and lives in Oakland. Her commentary was produced by Youth Radio.

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