This might be kinda late, but better late than never, right? Seeing that it’s back to school season, I feel this is a highly appropriate post that’s been kinda circling around in my mind for a while. I graduated high school this year, so I feel pretty qualified to, I guess, type on the matter (that was lame, I’m so sorry). There are probably a lot of teens out there that could use a little guidance or are actively seeking it, in which case, hey— you came to the right place.
Allow me to give a little background on my own personal experience during my high school years, so you can see just where this advice is coming from. I went to a pretty small high school. My class size was roughly 170, if you wanna compare. It wasn’t big, and even though at first it was intimidating of course (because that’s kinda natural), it’s actually pretty hard to get lost there.
I wasn’t “popular”, I wasn’t “lame”. I had a lot of friends. I had a boyfriend. It was great. I led a fairly drama free life because of who I chose to surround myself with. I did a lot of extracurricular activities like drama club, student government, National Honor Society, etc. I’m not going to list all of them, but basically I was a busy little girl.
On top of that, I took school very seriously. Like, over a 4.0, all AP’s, salutatorian of my class who gave a speech at graduation, tutored all my friends kind of seriously. Basically, I was known as the smart girl. ‘Twas my signature. Again, I could go into more detail about my studiousness too, but basically, I was on top of my sh*t.
So, now that you kinda know where I’m coming from, let’s get into it.
- Find a balance. If you’re anything like me, academia is very important to you. That is a good thing. Make it a priority. Just don’t let it consume your life. Be smart about your work. Manage your time wisely and efficiently. Don’t procrastinate (easier said than done, I know). That just prolongs the whole homework/ study thing and cuts back on your free time. Who wants that? There are so many memories to be made during high school. Every now and then, it’s okay to put off that essay and go hangout with some friends. Some memories are worth it. You’re going to remember the great times you had during high school ten years from now, not “that one English paper from sophomore year”.
- Seize the opportunities. Go to football games. Go to school dances. Join clubs (or sports). Go all out for spirit week and pep rallies. No, it’s not lame. Take advantage of everything your school has to offer because once those four years are up, you don’t get a second chance. Make the memories while you still have the moments. Have fun. Meet people. I met some of my best friends in the whole world through my extracurricular activities. Fun fact: I was a major theatre geek. Drama club was my life, and I basically lived in my high school auditorium. It’s also a great way to find out what your passionate about and what you enjoy doing. Be open to trying new things and challenge yourself.
- Keep the stress to a minimum. There is only so much worry you should put into your Chemistry test next Tuesday before it becomes unhealthy. Don’t add unnecessary pressure to your life. Or freak out about your future after graduation. Don’t spread yourself too thin by taking up too many commitments. And this last one is hard, but get as much sleep as you can. Please. There will be some late nights, but try to take care of yourself as much as possible. You matter. Sleep deprivation, not eating right, stressing… It’s gonna take a toll on you, inevitably. Mentally and physically. If you need to take a day off, it’s not the end of the world. Just please look out for yourself and take care because you deserve to not feel like you could snap at any moment. Your health> your GPA.
- Any drama that presents itself… is not worth it. Okay, I was really lucky in this department. I led a drama-free four years during high school. They say you go into high school with a giant group of friends and come out with no one. I went in with my group, maintained my group, and graduated with even more friends than when I started. Other people aren’t so lucky. Don’t hang onto negative people in your life that are weighing you down. Focus on the positive people that are going to love and support you through it all. It’s much more liberating. Boy trouble, girl trouble. Not worth it. Don’t make it a priority. Let good things come your way. Don’t spend your time pining over the cute guy in your calculus class who won’t notice you when you could be making memories with your best friends while embracing your independence. It’s high school. Not everyone who gets into a relationship is going to stay in it forever. Rumors are dumb. Character over reputation any day. And finally the light at the end of the tunnel: it’s just four years. After that, life changes. You might never see some of those people ever again. Kinda scary, but if there’s someone who is making your life hell or a girl you can’t stand in your Biology class, odds are you probably won’t be dealing with them much after graduation.
- Know what works for you. Your teen years are weird. There’s a lot of self discovery to take place as well as tiny things to work out. Like finding study habits that work for you. Figuring out when to stop at your locker in between which classes. The best way to get to the cafeteria after class to avoid lunch rush. Using a planner. What you want to do with your time. Just play around with and perfect your routine. Your friend might be able to cram the night before and ace his Spanish test. Good for him. That doesn’t mean you can. Don’t get frustrated. Just do what you gotta do. Get to know your teachers (some of them are actually pretty cool, funny, and will write you a killer letter of rec when the time comes). Go to tutoring if need be. Use your library. It’s resourceful, peaceful when you don’t wanna deal with idiots screaming in the halls at 8am, and a cool place to hangout with friends. And if you’re new to the school, the best advice I can give you is to get familiar with where your classes are and pay attention at orientation before the year officially starts. It minimizes the possibility of you getting lost those first few days. Bottom line is be smart and experiment to figure out what is best for you.
Lastly, I know it might not seem like it in the moment, but it really does go by fast. It’s not always easy. There are some rough days. Everyone is going to encounter their own set of obstacles. But it’s really all in how you handle them. Choose to handle them with grace and positivity. I promise there are a lot of good times too. And those are the moments you live for. Savor them. All in all, enjoy it as much as you possibly can. Please. Because one day, you’re going to be shaking hands and receiving a diploma on stage wondering what happened and where the hell did the time go. And then, I hope you smile looking back fondly on exactly that.