But that was four years ago, and I've changed a lot since then. I've learned that it is not arrogant to be intelligent, and that it's actually not the end of the world if some people don't like me. I'm still working on accepting that, but I really do believe it. Now that I'm a little more confident than I used to be, and I'm finding that there are people who genuinely want to hear what I have to say and don't think I'm arrogant, I've realized that things I don't need anymore are still taking up space in my mind. I am still carrying around a defense mechanism I no longer need, and a lot of other bad memories that don't serve a purpose to me anymore. That mean comment from a math teacher in middle school? That's not getting me anywhere as I try to pass the necessary math classes to get the degree I want. And remembering that comment from someone who said I just wasn't applying myself when I tried to ask for help isn't doing me any good when I know I am applying myself in my classes now. Remembering rumors about myself from years ago is silly when there was never any truth to them in the first place, and the people who started them probably forgot about them a long time ago. There are things I've been carrying around for far too long that I'm finally ready to let go of, and I'm so glad I don't have to lift them anymore, because that was making me tired. What heavy things have you been carrying around with you that are only slowing your journey down?
To high school junior me, you were right about the theme of that book. That book has a lot of themes, as you already know, and you will have a great time talking about them with your English professor your first semester of college. She doesn't think you're arrogant, she thinks you're bright. You won't want to stay quiet forever, because there will be people who will actually want to hear what you have to say. They'll care about what's important to you, and you'll do the same for them, because you're not arrogant and you know how to be a good friend. They will remember days that are important to you and ask you how those days went. They will want to spend time with you, and you won't have to remind them of the plans you've made, because they'll value you enough to remember them. They're called friends, and you will have them. As for everyone else, don't waste your time lowering your own standards to meet theirs. You need to love everyone, but you do not need to convince everyone to love you back. You're going to be just fine, I know because I'm you.