you don't owe anybody anything | seniors

This is something that I see most commonly among people in their teens and 20's. No matter how mature you are, I think it still takes time to really set in. You don't owe anybody anything.

We're in a society that teaches us to be nice. We're supposed to give everyone a chance, we're supposed to treat everyone equally, never give up on the people we love, etc. Obviously that philosophy is ideal. It's great to have friends outside your comfort zone, it's great to know different groups of people, and it's great to give people a second chance, but you never ever have to do it. 

When you're a child, you basically have to answer to everyone. You have to respect and obey your parents, your teachers, and just about every adult you come across.  You have to let your relatives pinch your cheeks every time you see them and answer their questions about your life. When an adult asks you your age, you tell them right away. Nobody asks a 40-year-old their age; you only get asked your age when you're young. And what else are you supposed to tell them?

When you're a kid, somebody will ask you what neighborhood you live in, and you naturally tell them. When we're children, we're used to giving our information to people. As you grow into yourself, when you're 17, 18, 19, 20 years old, you're becoming an adult. You feel like an adult, but you're still in that kid mentality in a lot of ways.

Number one is with your time. You have a lot more time (generally) as a young person to go out, explore, hang out with your friends, and do whatever you want to do. Whether it be working, school, extracurriculars, or your social life. Sometimes you go to a random get-together just because you don't have plans for the night. Sometimes you drive 30 minutes away just because that's where your plans are. Right? You could find yourself in a sketchy situations at times, and sometimes, you might end up being around people you don't know very well. If you haven't experienced this in high school, you will once you go to college.

I want you to know that you don't owe anybody your phone number. 

I don't know how many times my friends- that are smart, grade-A students, top of their class, gorgeous girls- gave a creepy guy their number because they were scared. Because they felt like they had to. And then they told me that they were scared to give the guy a fake number in case he tried to call them right away. So what did they do? They gave their real phone number to a creepy, sketchy, older guy. And that guy still has their number.

This is what you'll be faced with in college. You'll have to decide if you're going to give someone your number, or hang out with them, or leave with them, and you have to make that decision in a split-second. You have to know that you can say "no" every single time.

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I know we talk about our bodies and our rights to say "no", etc. But we don't talk about simple things like giving out your phone number, giving out your address, or telling somebody your personal information. All of that is personal and private information, and the older you get, the more you'll really value that privacy. Because you don't want the creepy guy from college showing up at your house with your husband and your kids one day. Right. 

It's the same way with friends. You don't owe anyone a friendship. I don't care if they are extremely nice to you and desperately need you to be their friend. I don't care if they've been your friend for one year or twelve years. If they break the boundaries that you have, or they're toxic to your life, you do not owe it to them to continue being a friend. You never even have to speak to them again. You don't have to do anything for anybody unless you believe it's the right thing to do.

So, it doesn't matter how much somebody compliments you, flatters you, or helps you. Even if they give you a free diamond necklace, I don't care what it is, you still aren't obligated to them. We, especially as girls, are conflicted because we feel like we have to be polite. Sometimes we prioritize being polite over our own safety. Or our own sanity. I know that's how you think, because I thought this way my entire young life. It wasn't until I had a family to protect that I realized I don't care about being polite.

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Be kind, be compassionate, and always protect and care about yourself first. 

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fringe photography is a high school senior photographer located in fishers, IN, and serving the surrounding areas of carmel, zionsville, mccordsville, and indianapolis.