Here's How To Survive High School, According To "The Edge Of Seventeen" Cast
"There’s something really nice about when you find your people and you feel like, 'Okay, I’m home."
Life doesn’t really get much better or worse than when you’re a teenager. From finding a seat in the cafeteria to navigating crushes from afar and everything else in between, high school can be filled with your best and worst days.
And this is something The Edge of Seventeen, due in theaters on Nov. 18, illuminates perfectly.
The movie takes audiences through the journey of 17-year-old Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), who distances herself from her best and only friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) after learning she's hooking up with Darian (Blake Jenner), Nadine's brother. Nadine also has lots of additional drama outside of this friend breakup — like her relationship to her mom Mona (Kyra Sedgwick) and to boys like Erwin (Hayden Szeto) — illustrative that being a teenager is filled with ups and downs, difficulties and triumphs.
In October, BuzzFeed News caught up with some of The Edge of Seventeen’s cast in person, and with writer and director Kelly Fremon Craig over the phone. We asked them about their high school experiences and how they got through it all. Here's what they had to say:
"I had to stick with my friend; we needed to have each other." —Haley Lu Richardson
One of the worst things that happened to Haley as a teenager:
My best friend and I went to separate schools — I went to Montessori school and she went to another school out of the district of our high school. And so all the kids that were in our grade in high school kind of grew up together. They went to grade school and middle school together, so they all knew each other and had already formed their friendships. We came in together and it was kind of just us two against the world in that way, similar to Nadine and Krista [in The Edge of Seventeen], but we were friendly with people. At lunch, we’d jump around from table to table, but we didn’t have a big friend group.
The big thing in my high school that people did was get party busses before school dances, so each friend group would plan their own party bus. And we weren’t invited on this one that we were kind of the closest friends [with], and they did it in a very cruel way. It was excluding and there were mean words.
How she survived it:
I remember we were so sad about it and it was such a big deal to us. And then I looked at her — and this sounds super cheesy now — but I was like, “Lily, what if we just go do something else? What if we don’t go to homecoming and we just go have a night, you and me, just having fun and being stupid tonight?” And I think realizing in those moments to listen to that little voice that’s like, This isn’t actually that big a deal, you’re going to laugh about this one day, kind of thing.
It’s stuff that’s kind of stupid to think about now; I wouldn’t get offended if any of that stuff was said or said to me now. But when you’re 15 and you don’t know anything, you’re finally wearing your first bra, wearing makeup, you’re liking guys, you’re trying to do well in school, you’re figuring out what you want to do in life. And to have people be just so mean is evil.
I had to stick with my friend; we needed to have each other.
"You feel that do-or-die emotion over things that you can’t really control." —Blake Jenner
One of the worst things that happened to Blake as a teenager:
When I was in eighth grade, the bell rang [for lunch] and we had a huge school. There were three waves for lunch, they always got packed up, and you were probably waiting in line for the majority of your lunch break if you just took your time getting there.
So I got out of my chair and I ran from Language Arts [class]. I ran past all my friends, I’m trying to get there, I’m trying to be first, I’m running down the stairwell, and I’m running to the cafeteria. I don’t see that the floor’s being mopped up; there’s no sign, and our cafeteria’s packed. I’m running, I’m running, I’m running, and I’m also, like, the skinniest dude in middle school. I’m wearing hand-me-downs from my brother who I was way skinnier than — I’m wearing a Sean John shirt and I’m not pulling it off at all, and it’s, like, three times my size — but I’m running and I slip, fall, and I hit the ground.
Everybody starts cracking up. The cleaning lady yelled at me and asked, 'Why aren’t you looking up?' I was like, 'Ahh, I’m sorry!'"
How he survived it:
I just got in line and I didn’t rise above that. I was like, 'Sigh, that sucks.' I survived it by self-therapy. It was a good life lesson in not giving a fuck and just doing what you can. You feel that do-or-die emotion over things that you can’t really control and really, it’s fine when you just throw it up in the air and see how it falls. That’s when you’re your best self.
"The minute I didn’t give a shit, they stopped caring about making me feel like shit." —Kyra Sedgwick
One of the worst things that happened to Kyra as a teenager:
What I remember most vividly is that, if you were sick during a weekday, the next day [all the popular girls] would all hate you. You literally were ganged up on the next day.
This was the routine: They would go into the nurse’s office and they would say, “Can we call Kyra? She’s sick at home and we just want to check in and see how she’s feeling.” And then the nurse would say, “That’s so sweet.” Then they would dial the number, call you, and they’d be like, “Hi, how are you feeling?” I was like, “Not feeling well, not really feeling so good.” And then they’d say, “Well, you know, things are OK at school, but we just wanted to say something to you.” And I’d be like, “Oh really, what?” And they’d go, “1, 2, 3...We hate you, bye!” And hang up.
Isn’t that horrifying? It didn’t just happen once. This happened four or five times, and it happened to me at least three times.
How she survived it:
My older brother walked into my room one day right after this had happened. He had come home from school and I was sobbing, balling. So he was like, “What happened?” And I was like, “No, no, I don’t want to talk about it.” And he said, “Tell me what happened.”
So I told him what happened and he goes, “That is the most insane thing I’ve ever heard in my life.” He told me to call this girl up later on in the day after school was done, and he sat there and made me call her up — the lead, popular girl — and say to her, “Why did you do that to me today?” He told me, “If she doesn’t have a good reason, tell her to sit on it and rotate, then hang up.”
I called her and I said, “Lu-lee, why did you do that today?” And she goes, “We have our reasons.” So I go, “Sit on it and rotate!” Then I hung up and I suddenly was free. I just stood up for myself and I stood up to a mean girl, and they never [called] again. I didn’t give a shit, and the minute I didn’t give a shit, they stopped caring about making me feel like shit. It was the most amazing thing, and my genius older brother made me do it. I took away her power; I took away her sting.
"I never complained to the office. I just tried to handle it." —Hayden Szeto
One of the worst things that happened to Hayden as a teenager:
I had a stalker in high school and she was like, a code-red stalker. It was very horrifying. She was this tiny little girl and when I’d walk by [her] in the hallway, she’d get her friends and say, “Push me, push me.” And they’d shove her into me all the time.
I actually learned that after C block on Wednesday, she was going to be in the same spot and her friends were going to shove her. So one time I just pretended I was going to cross [the hallway] and I stopped short, and she just flew right by me and hit the other locker. I was like, “Ha! Gotcha!” And I thought it was over. I’m like, “Now you learned not to mess with me.”
Then the next day... There was pink shit all over my locker. Then I saw [binders] that said Math 9, and I’m in grade 11. And then she turns the corner, she’s like, “Hi honey.” I’m like, “How did you get in my locker? How did you know my combination?” What she did was, she went to the office, said she was a family member and that I was sick, and she needed to put homework into my locker. She bypassed that and got my combination.
How he survived it:
In the middle of the hallway, I had to kick her out of my locker — like, full on break up with a girl that I’m not even with. It was such a scene; everyone was like, “Oh my God what’s going on? I didn’t know they were dating.” I’m like, “We’re not. We’re not!” I was like, “You need to move your shit right now.” And then she tried to play it like, “Oh my God, why?” I’m like, “No! Get your stuff and leave!” I never complained to the office, I just tried to handle it. I remember taking out the divider and all the books, and I put it in her hand and I was like, “Just leave."
"There’s something really nice about when you find your people and you feel like, 'Okay, I’m home." —Kelly Fremon Craig
One of the worst things that happened to Kelly as a teenager:
I think it was my freshman or sophomore year, I was hanging out with a particular group of people. I remember that feeling that you’re trying really hard to fit in with this group of people and ultimately, there’s a lot of superficiality. Deep down you feel like they all hate you. There’s just this feeling that you don’t fit into this group and you’re just never going to be in the circle; you’re slightly on the outside... and it’s impenetrable.
I remember having this feeling of being this person on the outside of that circle and just how fucking lonely that is, and I think it just makes you ask a lot of really dark questions about yourself like, “What is wrong with me that I can’t be part of the group? Why don’t they really like me?” It takes you to a really dark place to feel like you’re not accepted."
How she survived it:
I had a best friend at the time, and it drew us closer. We were both on the outside of the [friends] circle and then we finally went, “Fuck this,” so we left [the group]. Then it was kind of like, we just had each other, and then we found other friends who I actually still keep in touch with all these years later. There’s a group of maybe eight of us who are still in touch all the time and hang out a few times a month.
There’s something really nice about when you find your people and you feel like, 'Okay, I’m home.' And it’s so uncomfortable when you are around a group of people when you feel like you can’t be at ease in your own skin; you feel constantly judged or like they don’t really like you. It’s so horrible to hang around that; it’s just so soul-crushing and degrading.