Growing Up: How teens change during high school


Four years ago, they were all but timid freshmen. Now, after experiencing all high school has to offer, they are finally seniors, unique and different from when they started.

Personality and identity constantly change, but during adolescence and young adulthood these changes are much more prevalent. High schoolers are incredibly susceptible to change both around and within themselves.

During their teenage years, people tend to become more self-aware and authentic in their identities, though not without struggles. Teens tend to experiment with their identities: trying new things, meeting new people, and developing a sense of beliefs. Oftentimes, they try to exclude parts of themselves in order to fit in, but by the end of their time in high school, their identities are more concrete and they are more willing to express who they are.


Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor as a senior. “I feel like I’m know more about who I am, now compared to when I was younger. That comes with going through rough times and being able to recover”.

Senior Nathan Taylor’s high school experience affected his introversion and how he interacts with others.

“I was very introverted,” he said, “and now I’m able to reach out more.”

A hiking trip called a “Duke of Edinburgh” was one of the reasons for his changes in identity throughout high school.

“That [hiking trip] was a big turning point in my personality,” Taylor explained, “because I took a leadership role, [and] I was able to talk more.”

Teens’ personality traits are often influenced by personal experiences, and also by the environment around them. This has sometimes made it hard for Taylor to be comfortable with portraying himself authentically because of seemingly constant feelings of judgment and self-consciousness.

“I feel like I try to portray a genuine person,” he said. “Sometimes it can be hard if you don’t fully trust other people.”

Despite this, Taylor feels more comfortable with his identity now than before.

“I feel like I know more about who I am now,” he said, before proceeding once again to tie in the effects of personal experience.“That comes with going through rough times and being able to recover.”


Abigail Hayes

Senior Abigail Hayes had a similar experience of opening up as she matured throughout high school.

“You find your friend group and you find what you like to do and it just makes you more comfortable,

Abigail Hayes as a freshman (left) and as a senior (right). “I would say I’m a lot more of like a team player now, and I’m more of a people person. That definitely wasn’t the case before. I kind of would only think about like myself, my team and school in general. I want to make school better for everyone, not just myself anymore”.

” Hayes said. This sense of comfort and opening up allowed her to gain the courage to do what she loved- cheer- of which she is now a captain. Being a part of something has also helped shape Hayes into who she is now.

“Being a part of cheer, and a team… makes you more comfortable,” Hayes explained, “… I’m a lot more of a team player now. And I’m more of a people person.”

However, it wasn’t easy to gain the confidence and sense of self she has now.

“I didn’t want to be labeled as a stereotype,” she said. “I didn’t want to be a cheerleader because I didn’t want people to think I was bratty.”

This fear of how she will be portrayed to others ties back to the fact that high schoolers tend to be more aware of the world around them when forming their identity. Like most teens, Hayes has actively tried to seek out who she wants to be and what she believes in, by looking to the world directly around her.

“I want to make school better for everyone,” she explained, “not just myself.”


Lauren Rollins

Senior Lauren Rollins does not at all see herself as the person they were when they came into high school.

“I thought that I knew what the world was and how to deal with things,” Rollins said, “but I’ve had a lot of events and incidents happen that have changed me and shifted my perspective.”

Over the course of the last four years, they have matured, as most teens do, and found their sense of identity.

“I’m part of the LGBTQ+ community,” Rollins said, “[and] I’ve gotten a lot closer with my Hispanic side.”

Lauren Rollins as a freshman (left) and as a senior (right).“I’ve had a lot of events and incidents happen even in my freshman year that have changed me and shifted my perspective of what it means to truly be human and to truly fight for yourself and what you want and what’s best for you”.

However, conflicting and crucial parts of her identity have also made it hard to figure out who she is.

“I have a very Latin Catholic family, so that was difficult for coming out.,” Rollins explained.

Family wasn’t the only thing that made it hard for them to find out who they were.

“Friends can also prevent you from expressing yourself or trying to identify a certain way,” Rollins said.

Despite struggles, Rollins’ experience of change throughout high school has led them to being an authentic version of themself, and to have closer relationships with those around her, specifically her sister.

“I think that bond has changed me as a person,” Rollins said, “and showed me more of what she’s had to deal with, and how we’re more similar than we seem.”

School has also helped shape who Rollins is. “You really grow up here in a sense,” she explained,


“[School and clubs] kind of show off your identity.” School showcases peoples’ personalities, with some students working extremely hard for academic validation and others being more laid back.

Overall, Rollins sees their high school experience and the growth that comes with it as a good thing.

“Growing up and changing isn’t something that we should be afraid of as much as we are,” they said, “I’ve had to put myself out there and try something new. Nine times out of ten, I’ve grown as a person, usually for the better.”


Charles Freund 

High school is also a time for experimentation with one’s identity.

“I think school is a great way for you to experiment [with] how you want yourself to be seen,” senior Charles Freund explained. “You can act a completely different way than [how] you think and not many people [will] notice.”

This phenomenon is common in teens, often expressing itself as the classic movie-style “rebellious” phase.

“High school gives you that opportunity to really try out different versions of yourself,” Freund said, “and see which parts of each personality you like the most.”

Charlie Freund as a freshman (left) and as a senior (right). “Overall, I don’t think I’ve changed too terribly much, but high school is such a developmental time. I think it’s really important that people go out there and express themselves and experience the things in high school that help them grow and learn further by themselves”.

Despite this, Freund does not feel like he had dramatically changed throughout high school.

“I think my personality has matured a bit more,” he said. “Overall, I don’t think I’ve changed too terribly much.”

Still, Freund thinks high school is important in the development of personality.

“I think it’s really important that people go out there and express themselves and experience the things in high school that help them grow and learn,” Freund said.

High school is an incredibly unique and important time in the development of who you are and who you will become. Everyone is going to have a different experience and everyone is going to change. But for most, the only way to find out what you love and who you are is to put yourself out there, experience new things and confront challenges, not being afraid to grow.