Whether you’re an incoming freshman, a soon-to-be senior, or even just graduated, my goal(s) after you dig your nose into this post is any/all of the following–
♦Learn something new
♦Have a new perspective
♦Start to build confidence
♦Actually apply my advice to your life
Some may question my creditability when it comes to giving advice. Yes, I’ve barely been an ‘adult’ for a year and I am constantly solving my own issues, thus one may ask: How is she in the position to help others fix their problems? However, from my various experiences I endured in high school I am confident that my tips can help make these 4 years at least bearable, hopefully enjoyable, and for sure memorable. Now if you were to ask me for advice about college I would give you a blank stare followed by a confused look because I have no idea what I’m doing…yet. I can only guarantee my expertise on the four years of high school I completed. I’ll let you know when I have some insight to advice for college, (which I predict will be somewhat similar to these tips I have for high school) until then… keep reading to find out what I wish I would have known/done when I was in 9th grade and for the next four upcoming years.
For the newbie/incoming Freshman:
You are about to enter a whole new world. Now you most likely already have a picture of what you think high school is like. I will break it to you right now and tell you that it’s nothing like High School Musical or Mean Girls. Yes, there is probably someone like Regina George/Sharpay Evans, but no- your cafeteria probably won’t break out into a karaoke session while dancing on the tables & I hope to God that no one is hit by a bus, even if he/she is a bully. I’m sure someone has told you that high school will be the best four years of your life. I’m just going to be honest and tell you that I hope that they aren’t. Do you really want to have the years full of awkward moments/stages, sitting in a desk 24/7, and petty drama to be the time that your life was at its fullest? No! There is so much more to it, but for now your tiny coordinate of high school on this earth is all you know, and that’s okay. Don’t get me wrong, high school can be a great experience if you make it one. All I’m trying to emphasize is that there is so much more to life than these four years, so don’t get too caught up in it.
These first few years that you endure will include many moments of ‘firsts.’ Whether it is an unfortunate ‘first’ like your first trip to the principal’s office or an exciting ‘first’ like your first time in the drivers seat, just remember: that you only get one ‘first.’ I’m going to sound like a cliché graduate, but I swear this time of your life will fly by in a blink of an eye. Think about it… you were just at your 8th grade graduation. I promise that you will be walking across the stage to get your diploma soon enough, thinking ‘Where the heck did time go?’ So ‘freshie’ as they call you, my overall advice is to actually take/apply the advice that you’re given (including mine) and although these four years probably won’t be the best years of your life, live it up while you can. You only have one high school experience, might as well make it the best possible!
For the Senior/soon-to-be graduate
Just because you’re more than half way done with high school doesn’t mean that it’s too late to change old habits, do the things you want to do, or take any of the advice I give below. Better late than never, right? As a freshman comes across many ‘firsts’ this year, you will encounter many ‘lasts.’ Last football game, last school dance, last trip with your friends- whatever the ‘last’ may be, absorb every second of your senior year. It is more than easy to wish it away, but stop when you find yourself saying ‘I wish this year was done’ or ‘I can’t wait to get out of here.’ Honestly, you probably won’t believe me until after a few months after your graduation, but you WILL miss it. In less than a year, you will be sitting in your seat at graduation, listening to your peers talk about old memories and you’ll wonder where the heck did time go? Well don’t let yourself wish that time away. Simply appreciate everything about Senior year, including the drama, the senioritis, the stress of the future. Absorb it all because it will soon be done!
- Build Confidence, Have Confidence, Be Confident
Unfortunately, school’s academic curriculum doesn’t include a lesson plan on how to love yourself and honestly I don’t think anyone can really teach you how to accept yourself besides…well yourself! It’s kinda like the saying ‘treat others like you want to be treated’ in the sense that you need to love yourself like you want someone to love you.The feeling is inevitable: feeling like you have to ‘fit in’ to be liked. All I will say is: don’t try to ‘fit in.’ Know your worth and what you deserve. People spend their entire lives trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be, so why not start now? Why waste even a sliver of a moment trying to be someone you’re not? In the grand scheme of things, the opinions of your peers do not matter! Trust me, I know it’s easier said than done, but I can confidently tell you that you will regret any moment that you didn’t stay true to yourself. I am here to encourage you (as cliché as it may sound) to be authentic. Do yourself a favor right now and stop caring what people think. I guarantee your life will be far less stressful if the only approval you strive to obtain is your OWN. Yes, take your close loved one’s opinions/advice into consideration, but if you’re doing you and not hurting anyone in the process then what’s the problem? Now, I will say that if multiple people are telling you that you are constantly rude, lazy, and obnoxious, then you probably should take a look in the mirror and reevaluate who you are becoming. However, if someone simply questions the outfit you put on that morning, if you like it then take a second look in the mirror and tell yourself that ‘my outfit is bomb and the haters can back off.’ Point blank- just don’t take any sh*t from anyone. Have enough self respect to make people respect you.I’m sure your parents have told you ‘be a leader, not a follower’ but like normal, our parents are actually right. I promise you that once you start loving who you are, others will attract to your confidence that radiates and love you even more. Being yourself and not caring what others think seems like a terrifying task until you actually do it! It’s kind of like the saying ‘practice makes perfect.’ So go- right this second, and start practicing! Life is too short to not do everything you do with 100% confidence.
- Be you, Do you, FOR you
This tip is expanding on my tip above. Yes, it is great to be confident but be sure that everything you’re doing is 110% for yourself and because YOU want to. This may seem selfish but honestly you’re doing the world a dishonor by lying to yourself. Whether it’s wearing the outfit you want to wear or chasing your biggest dream, your only influence on any decision should be you! If otherwise, you’re not doing ‘you’ FOR you, you’re doing ‘you’ for some other factor.For example, I thought about creating my own platform (like a blog or a Youtube channel) since I was fourteen. Except I was always too nervous to find out what the others at my school would think about me. Would they see me as the weird girl who writes or makes videos? Would they make fun of it to my face or even worse, behind my back? Looking back, I wish I would have started as soon as the idea popped in my head- regret would be an understatement. I finally built the courage to create my blog my senior year. I’m not going to sugar coat it… I did get made fun of and probably still do. This is where the confidence comes into play. At first, I considered deleting my blog all together, but then I realized I didn’t care that my ‘friends’ were making fun of me on social media and literally laughing in my face. Why? Because I enjoyed what I was doing and why would I let a sneaky hater ruin that? I’m doing me, FOR me. I wish someone would have encouraged me to follow my desire to be a blogger when I was a freshman, but I’m encouraging you right now to start the hobby or interest that you’ve been dying to try/pursue. We are our biggest critic, but at the same time we have to be our biggest fan because the reality is that at the end of the day we are truly the only ones that will be there for ourselves. So thats why whatever you do, do you, FOR you.
- Get involved
As easy as it is to binge watch Netflix or spend your time on social media (trust me, I plead guilty multiple times) get off your butt and go get involved. Whether it’s a sport, club, or organization, go and join. The excuse ‘My school doesn’t have anything that interests me’ just doesn’t fly. You can easily create a club yourself, or even simply attend a football/basketball game or a school dance. High school and life in general is all about putting yourself out there and meeting new people. I guarantee that if you don’t attempt to get involved your four years of high school will be nearly unbearable to say the least. Also, if you think you’re ‘too cool’ to get involved- you’re not…sorry to break it to you. If you feel this way because you think you won’t ‘look cool’ if you join a specific organization/club or you feel like others will judge you, go reread my first two tips. If you’re feeling skeptical, you would be surprised to see the amount of people you meet when you get involved in your school. Most of my high school memories are from getting involved in some way, shape, or form. Whether it was student council trips, dancing at the football/basketball games (dance team), or going to school dances, I don’t regret a single moment of it and quite honestly, I wish I would have done more. Also, a bonus tip: it looks really good on college applications.
- Think realistically
With all the hormones traveling through your body, it is very easy to overreact to a situation. To avoid the stress, simply analyze any and everything you encounter. Think to yourself: ‘Will this ‘problem’ matter in a week from now? A month? A year?’ If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions and you’re still freaking out/worrying/stressing then you’re most likely overreacting and giving this problem too much of your attention. I am one to get anxiety about something before it even happens. I have trained myself to stop and think realistically. Will this fight with my friends or this rude comment someone directed to me really matter? The answer is usually no. I would say that 90% of the time we create a bigger deal out of a situation than we actually need to. Now, if someone hurts your feelings or you’re failing a class, do something about it. I’m not telling you to act like nothing matters-that’s the opposite of what you should do. Just make sure to pick and choose your battles and what you invest your attention into. Before you freak out (& go and subtweet someone/something, which I never recommend), stop and analyze the issue and contemplate how much of your energy this issue really deserves.
- Grades DO matter
There are two things that you can do when you receive a bad grade- 1) shrug it off because ‘it really doesn’t matter’ 2) try to learn from your mistake and better yourself. Your high school grades DO matter. Now obviously, failing one class in school isn’t going to come and haunt you years ahead, but if you’re applying to colleges during your senior year, your grades play a role with your admission decision. Most students don’t realize that your grades start to matter on day 1 of high school. Freshmen- I recommend that you don’t start slacking now because the classes do get harder, and the work load does grow. Your freshman year GPA can save your accumulative GPA in high school and college, so get a good start early. Also, practice making relationships with your teachers now because office hours will be your best friend in college. Yes, they yell at you for having your phones and talking to your friends, but most teachers actually care, so ask for help. If you’re not getting the help you need find it somewhere else. Be your own self advocate for your academics.
As I said before, life is all about putting yourself out there. It is good to have a few close friends that you know you can count on, but don’t let that stop you from creating new connections/relationships with others. Don’t feel tied down to one ‘friend group.’ Be the person that is friends with everyone. But then again, don’t invest your time in people that don’t care to reciprocate. Many people keep in touch with very few people from high school. People grow up and change, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need friends during high school. It’s nearly impossible to get through without them.
- Get a job- then actually save the money you earn
You may think that you don’t have the time to get a job during high school, but I promise it’s do-able. I got my first job in 8th grade and even after graduation, I’m still currently an employee there. Even if your parents are financially stable to the point where you don’t need your own spending money, I recommend that you still find a part time job. The feeling of buying your own stuff with the money you earned creates a strong work ethic at a young age, which trust me- it is an advantage in your years to come. You’ll be ahead of the game. Also, actually save the money you earn. Please don’t be like me and go blow the paycheck the week you receive it on stuff you really don’t need. Unless you plan on living with your parents and milking their wallet until you’re forty, you’re going to want a decent amount of money when you move out. Before you know it, you’ll be on your own, maybe a poor college student, and actually receiving bills in your name. You’ll thank me for this tip later.
- Appreciate the little things
I’ve made it very clear that these four years go by faster than you think and you only get one high school experience. This is the time where you need to learn to appreciate the little things in life. Live in the moment and don’t take anything for granted. Laughs with your family, cuddles with your puppy, football games, school dances, your mom’s cooking, quiet nights at home, are just some of the things that you will miss when it’s gone. Appreciate the people that appreciate you. Thank your parents for everything they do. You may think differently right now, but once again just trust me when I say you WILL miss it all, so enjoy it while you have the chance.
- There’s a good chance that they’re not ‘the one’ and that’s okay
It is easy to get caught up in the idea of ‘high school sweethearts’ but in today’s day and age it is more than likely that the person that you date in high school is probably not your forever and that is more than okay! I’m not telling you to never date in high school, but then again don’t waste your time on a stressful relationship or on someone who makes your life harder than it already is. Yes, all relationships take work, but life isn’t supposed to be worse with a significant other…the person is supposed to better your life and if they’re not, trust me… it’s not worth it. If you do decide to date in high school, please make sure that you stay true to who you are. If you feel like you’re being changed by a relationship and not for the better, get out of it. A break up may feel like a punch in the stomach (or heart) for awhile, but learning to love yourself again is like breathing fresh air for the first time, in a long time. Realize at a early age that although four years seems like a long time, in the grand scheme of things it is an average of 5% of your lifetime. Don’t dwell on the fact that a relationship ended. Everything happens for a reason and chances are you won’t meet ‘the one’ in the tiny coordinate where your high school is located. Learn to be okay with that.
- You’re NOT alone
As much as you may feel like you have no one or that no one gets what you’re feeling, there is always someone who is there, who cares, and who can help. Whether you’re dealing with a break up, feeling down or just like you don’t fit in, you are not the first and you for sure won’t be the last. Just know that you are most definitely not alone no matter how lonely you may feel. People care about you, just look around and I promise you will see.
- Be Kind- the world needs more of it
Smother the world with your positivity and kindness. It’s that easy. Whether it is your cranky lunch lady, your bus driver, the person who has been bullying you, or even a stranger, always remain kind. You never know when someone is having a bad day or their life currently isn’t a walk in the park, so have compassion, a big heart, and spread love always.