That line is perhaps one of the more cliché platitudes people hear. Everything seems like it’s never going to improve and it’s just depressing to keep going and keep getting met with the same disappointments, over and over again until it’s hard to believe there could be anything else.

I can’t exactly go deeply into my old social situation without offending or exposing certain people I used to hang out with, but suffice it to say that most of the people I used to hang out with were friends of circumstance.

When I was in twelfth grade — senior year — it was time to choose where to go to college, and whether to take a gap year.

For gap year programs, I investigated various Jewish programs in Israel.

I’ve always had a fascination with Israel. It’s so insanely diverse, so ancient, so beautiful. I feel at home here in a way I couldn’t anywhere else, because it’s the Jewish homeland. I’m surrounded by Jews and our history surrounds us. This is where I’m supposed to be, regardless of where in the world I am.

When it came to decide where to go to Israel, I investigated various seminaries.

A seminary is a program for Jewish girls, usually Orthodox, to spend a gap year in Israel before continuing onto college.

Some are focused more on learning; some more on the social scene. Most are touchy-feely, and many shut down questions almost before you ask them. Many have kids considered “jappy.”

What are jappy kids, you ask? Jewish American Princesses.

Certain places are associated with jappy kids, including basically my whole area. Also the high school I went to. And my elementary school. I’ve been surrounded by japs for my whole life.

So, for seminary, I only applied to one: the nerdiest, most out-of-the-box one I could find. And while we do sing and do activities together like other seminaries, we also watch The Twilight Zone and ruminate over its Judaic themes until way past midnight. No question is off-limits. A ton of us are singers, artists, writers, readers. We’ll geek out over Marvel or Harry Potter. A lot of us are introverted to some extent. People prize being kind, smart, and open-minded.

There’s not a single jappy kid. In fact, my seminary is probably a jap’s worst nightmare.

I’m much happier than I was in the past, because now I can actually express who I am and not be alone.

For my whole life, I’ve always been dedicatedly, unabashedly myself. I learned to laugh loudly, to assert my presence, to be myself. But, until now, that also meant I was singled out and attacked for being who I was.

When you find a place where you actually fit in, there’s no parallel. The joy comes on slowly as you grow more comfortable with who you are and develop an overall sensation of being content.

I always knew this happiness was attainable. I’ve been reaching towards it since middle school, when I daydreamed about the day I’d finally be able to go to college.

So, yeah. It really does get better. The adults running around all over the place who had crazy childhoods — abuse, neglect, or, like me, just plain bullying — well, many of them are happy now. Once you’re old enough to make your own choices, you find yourself in situations you chose with people you chose.

It gets better.

Professional writer, editor, and tutor; social justice advocate; Orthodox Jew; dedicated Grammar Auror

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