by Annabelle Wang ’22
Published Oct. 13th, 2020
Insecurity beats down a lot of high schoolers. But Rianna Moses is willing to lead the fight back.
Rianna, a senior at MHS, has come a long way since she moved to America from India just before her freshman year. “Ninth grade was when I learned everything…” Rianna reflects, referring to both her transition to an American public school and her experiences with peer pressure and self-awareness.
In the private school Rianna attended in India, strict rules forbade students from anything that wasn’t “prim and proper,” as she describes it. When she moved to America, she had to adjust to the freedoms of choosing her own outfits and styling her hair the way she wanted to.
Another aspect of MHS that was foreign to her was the way people interacted with each other. She recalls that in her physics class at the start of her freshman year, people sat silently and only occasionally held small conversations. “In India, it was so different. Even if you met the other people that day… we’d all talk to each other.”
Moving from another country wasn’t the biggest influence on Rianna’s identity, however. Navigating high school’s constant academic and social pressures was a major issue she struggled with at first, especially when other students asked her to do something she was uncomfortable with. She admits, “I was so embarrassed. I used to lie and tell them I [had] homework to do.”
Since then, Rianna said she’s become much more comfortable with herself and her limits. For her, it was as simple as realizing that if someone pushed her to do something she didn’t want to do, that person was not truly her friend. Now, when people approach her with offers that she’s not interested in, she sets her boundaries.
Rianna knows firsthand, however, that the act of staying true to oneself isn’t always easy. “There are a lot of people who feel like they have to do something to be friends, to be a part of something, or to make someone notice them. But that’s different from who I am.”
Kindness and open-mindedness are integral to her ability to make peace with herself and other people. “Even if they do stuff that I don’t do… you shouldn’t judge them for who they are. It’s their choice. If you don’t like them, don’t hang out with them. But if someone smiles at you, smile back.”
While it is important to remain kind and open-minded, it is impossible to expect everyone to reciprocate with the same respect and kindness, and Rianna has fully internalized this idea. When asked how she deals with people who do not treat her kindly, Rianna suggests, “I don’t really think about it. My family knows me as the compassionate, kind person. As long as I know that I’m kind and I know who I am, I don’t have to think about what other people have to say back to me. What am I going to do- be rude? No, they’ll just be rude back.”
Rianna’s journey to self-awareness holds a lot of lessons that other high schoolers can learn from. Peer pressure and constantly trying to please others can ruin a teenager’s sense of self and their relationships with others. Rianna hopes that even though high school is challenging and sometimes overwhelming, students will learn to accept their identities and share their stories to help their peers. She wants others to know that, at the end of the day, staying true to yourself is far more important than conforming to a group.