A shell is a hard thing to break. They exist to block the world out, and to give a sense of safety. The shell can be comfortable, warm, and secure. But shells are not meant to be permanent. They are meant to be broken.
I remember very plainly the shell I had put myself in when I began high school. I was me, and the world was outside. I had no reason to abandon my cocoon of protection. That is, I had no reason until I truly met the people of Mound Westonka High School.
When I began to pay attention to the people around me, I was surprised at the wide range of acceptance demonstrated. All walks of life came together inside of that building. There were still semblances of the high school stereotypes; labels were prevalent, cliques did exist, and everyone seemed to have an air of angst, but these barriers were easily breached. We could sit at the lunch table and heatedly discuss current political trends, any sort of competition, or even religion, and afterwords smile amicably at each other. There were no limitations to which group you could feel comfortable around. Track stars and football players found common ground with the band and choir geeks. A lot of them were in all four categories. The breadth and depth of character exhibited by any number of my peers could easily rival that of people four times their age.
Perhaps I am viewing the past in a gilded light. Maybe my experiences aren't indicative of the norm. But I do know that the people I met during my brief time in Mound Westonka High School are some of the best people I could ever hope to meet.
Bottom: Trenton, Jonny, Jordan -- Top: Dan and Charlie
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