I struggle to open the deceptively heavy door and throw myself through the small opening. I stand there for a moment to collect myself before I trudge forward into the unknown. My hands clutch to the straps of my backpack as I brace myself. I walk forward and join the mass of bodies shuffling along the hallway. I've crossed over to the other side -- I'm a freshman in high school.
Flash forward four years. I am a senior and am poised to graduate in a handful of days. Back then, the date May 26, 2013, might have been May 26, 3013, it felt so far away. But that day is almost here, and I've made it.
I've gone from the timid, awkward freshman to a confident and almost-graduated senior. Had I been told just four years ago what I would become, I would not have believed it.
For my entire freshman year, I had no friends. Sure, there were a few kids I was friendly with. We would chat at school, maybe study together, but nothing more. I didn't do anything outside of school. I just sat at home on the weekends and found something to occupy my time. I kept to myself for the most part for fear of judgment. I wanted to change, but it seemed impossible.
Sophomore year was when things changed. There was one major contributor to this and that was my seventh-period library study hall. At the beginning of the year, I was quiet and talked to no one as I had in the past. But that slowly changed as I became friendly with Emma Murphy, another sophomore in my study hall. Through our daily ritual of finishing the Columbus Dispatch's crossword puzzle, I became more comfortable around others. This was the beginning of exiting my shell and turning into the person I am today.
On one memorable day, Philip Schuss, a student I met in the study hall who I would now call one of my best friends, made up the name "J-Man." This moniker quickly caught on, and while I didn't like it at first, I eventually warmed up to the idea and accepted it. Since then, this name has helped define me, as everyone knows J-Man. I am sure there are underclassmen right now who don't know who Justin Meyer is, but if someone said J-Man they would know who they were talking about.
Junior year it all came together. Through Emma I met her friends, Natalie Schwager and Sierra Humphrey, and through classes I had with Will Moses, Jesse Mendel and Philip, I became close with them. Soon I had found a niche in an already close knit group of friends made up of the aforementioned along with Josh Hoffman, Jacob Rubin, Jordan Hoffman and Cody Philips. I was welcomed into the group and immediately felt at home.
Senior year has been the year in which I have been able to appreciate everything. I'm surrounded by my best friends, relishing my final year here in Bexley. I have gotten to enjoy this year with all my best friends; the people I tell everything to and want to always keep in my life after high school.
I have made it through the gauntlet that is high school and have been made better because of it.
Justin Meyer is a graduating senior in the Bexley High School class of 2013 and a member of The Torch student newspaper staff.