Currently, I am going into my third year of high school, and in my high school experience so far, I have come across many students whom I know will crash and burn in the real world. Of course, I am still a student myself and have not been in the real world yet, but I have been told many things by adults. In addition, I have some wisdom myself and know that, even though I am young, my opinions and views are still valid and people can learn from them. So, here are ten things that within your high school experience you really need to learn in order to thrive in life after school:
1) NO ONE IS AGAINST YOU
As a young adult, still trying to find herself/himself, it is easy to feel outcast, alone, and like no one is on your side. However, it is just the opposite. What you may not realize is that everyone your age feels the exact way that you do. Take me, for example. Every time I think I have it all figured out, something new opens my eyes a little wider and I question everything. But this is all a part of growing up. Other people’s experiences may be different than yours, but they ultimately are the same. There is a reasonable explanation for everything: that smart kid that gets straight A’s studies until he passes out on his bed. That girl that bullies you every day feels alone and does not know how to healthily express her emotions. That teacher that gave you detention only wants you to benefit from the lesson he prepared because he knows it will help determine your future. Your parents only grounded you because they know what it could lead to. I know it is hard to imagine, but if you realize that everyone in your life wants you to succeed, you will be a much happier and cooperative person.
2) HIGH SCHOOL IS NOT SUPPOSED TO PREPARE YOU FOR THE REAL WORLD
I see this one all over social media as well as hear it from my peers constantly: “School is literally pointless. We should be taught how to pay taxes and get a job, not about mitochondria being the powerhouse of the cell.” And, yes, while knowing that mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell will not help you pay taxes in any way, shape, or form, it is that knowledge that will make you ready to enter the real world. When you apply for college, they look for well-rounded students. When you apply for a job, they look for well-rounded people. So what does this mean? It means that you cannot even get hired for a cashier job if you do not know basic math. And let’s say you are laying in the grass on a Saturday and your child asks you what makes the sky blue. Having basic knowledge makes you smart and prepared for most anything. Also, taking basic courses will expose you to things you had never even heard before, and this may lead you to take courses in college and it may even end up as a future career. You need to give it a chance. Do not know how to do taxes? ASK YOUR PARENTS. THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE THERE FOR. And you know what? My parents pay someone to help them do their taxes–most people do that–so there would be literally no point in school teachers teaching 14 year-olds how to do taxes; it is too complicated. Hopefully, now you can see that high school really is preparing you for the real world and that you just have to take it easy the first 18 years of your life to figure out who you really are and what you want to do.
3) FRESHMAN YEAR MATTERS
Do not fall for what most freshmen do. Colleges may not look at that one C or D or F in a class, but they for sure will look at your overall GPA at the end of high school. And guess what factors into that GPA? That class you got an F in! Freshman year is a time to try things out, adjust, and make mistakes. But do not make the mistake of not studying and not trying. Try to get B’s and up and you can always pick up the slack. Though, of course, I recommend getting straight A’s if that is a possible goal for you; but if not, pick a goal that you know you can pull off. However, always have high expectations for yourself. Be smart and treat freshman year like any other year of school you have ever had, except take it (more) seriously.
4) ARROGANCE IS NOT ATTRACTIVE
I am going to have to try really hard not to go on a rant with this point. Anyway, let me start with the big one that everyone notices at the beginning of their high school career. So, obviously high school is split into upperclassmen and lowerclassmen. Juniors and seniors make up the upperclassmen and freshmen and sophomores make up the lowerclassmen. However, sophomores seem to somehow have put themselves in the category of upperclassmen. DO NOT LIE; you know exactly what I am talking about: Calling the freshmen “fresh meat” and looking at and talking about them as if they are stupid and 6 years old. GUESS WHAT? WE ALL GO TO THE SAME SCHOOL. WHY CAN WE NOT ALL BE FRIENDS? And just let me tell you to all the high schoolers who complain about freshmen being stupid–I know freshmen taking JUNIOR-level classes. In fact, I did that my freshmen year. Maybe some freshmen are arrogant–I will get to that in a second–but you cannot categorize the whole group of incoming freshmen as stupid or rude or arrogant when you have met just a couple ugly faces. Besides, have you ever even talked to them to see if they are stupid? And to all the sophomores who complain about freshmen being stupid–do not lie, I know plenty that do–GROW UP! Freshmen are stupid? You are basically still a freshman! I know that you think you are mature and that you are rolling your eyes right now or agreeing with me and thinking about other people that do this (and maybe you are not like this; I am just addressing the people that do), but that does NOT give you the right to put other people down. In fact, that makes you WEAK. Stop pretending that you are better than everyone else. In the end, we are all just students who attend high school to learn. Every single student at your school deserves the same respect you do, so be a role model down here on Earth.
5) LISTEN TO ADVICE, NO MATTER HOW CLICHE
This point includes adults–both staff members and adults outside of school–and friends. I think the hardest people to believe sometimes are adults. Let us be honest; they can be really annoying with their talk of “back in the day we didn’t have _______” and such. However, these are the people we really should be listening to. Us teenagers like to think we are mature and already know all of the advice. But we really do not. Adults have much more life experience than teenagers do. They are stable–they have found themselves and are doing with their life what they love. They are only here to guide us if we would just listen. They can see bad things ahead. They can also see good things. They have already gone through high school, so they know how it works. Whether it is studying advice or life advice, high schoolers should listen to adults. And about the cliche advice they give you, why do you think it became cliche? Because it has been used so many times and lead to a positive result! If we move on to friends, this can seem obvious. It is way easier to take a friend’s advice than an adult’s. Your friends are most likely the same age as you or within a couple years of you and are also in high school. Also, because you get to choose your friends, chances are that they understand you fairly well. This probably inclines you to trust them. This is a good thing if they give you good advice–and listen to it–but always be cautious of toxic friends. I could go into a whole lecture about how to tell if your friend is toxic, but the bottom line is that you need to make the judgment for yourself. That goes for their advice too. But be open-minded when you judge it. Overall, just listen to people who want to help you. Whatever advice you have been given was given out of care.
6) YOUR TEACHERS CARE
I know you probably want to slap me right now, but just hear me out. I will make this short: Teachers went to college for their job, so they WANT to be there. Yes, they may HAVE to be there, but coming to school and planning a lesson for you is a CHOICE. Sometimes teachers need a break, so give them one. And some teachers are just plain bad. Let them be. (Besides, at least they have personality.) It is your job to learn the material and ask questions. Teachers also have to follow the rules. If you have your phone out in class and they take it away and give you detention, do not be mad at them! You deserved it. It is against school policy. But also, you are disrespecting them by not paying full attention. Lastly, everything they do is meaningful. That essay you complained about was meant to strengthen your writing skills. That DBQ was meant to prepare you for the unit test. All in all, just know that your teachers really do care about you and want you to succeed. Do not blame them for things and hate on them outside of class just because you refuse to own up to a mistake or are having a bad day.
7) LAUGH A LOT, BUT NOT AT EVERYTHING
This is your time to have fun, make mistakes, learn from your mistakes, and find yourself. You should laugh and smile and be happy. Nevertheless, you also need to know that everything is not a joke. That D you got on a test? Do not high five your friend next to you that got the same grade, and definitely, do not brag about it. What you need to be doing is figuring out what you got wrong, why, and how to do better next time. That girl that tripped in the hallway and is now super embarrassed? Why are you laughing at her? What you should be doing is asking her if she is okay. Basically what I am trying to say is that you should have fun in your high school years, but you also need to know the boundaries.
8) OPEN YOUR EYES AND PUT OUT YOUR HAND
This point is all about communication skills. (If you would like, I can make a list of some that people need to learn, but I will not go into that for now.) Teenagers seem to have a real problem listening. Sometimes it may be better to be the shy girl in the back of the class. I think observing people helps you learn things about them, about life, and about yourself. Just like I discussed in point #5, we should really take the advice that is given to us. We also really need to use the people around us as a resource. Put your phone away and make eye contact with the person talking to you and whom you are responding to. Also, because we are still finding ourselves, we should be experimenting and finding out what kind of a person we are and what kind of a person we want to be. Furthermore, learn how to give a good handshake. This is very professional and you will definitely do this many times in the future. It is a basic skill and something I wish people did casually when meeting someone–anyone. Basically, just be respectful and use common sense.
9) SUCK IT UP
Now onto something you like hearing: you are in control of your life. You can do whatever you want. With that said, STOP COMPLAINING. Most things are temporary, and teenagers–including myself–tend to constantly blow things out of proportion. Sometimes, though, we really just need to suck it up and push through. A class may be hard, but you should still study and try your best because it is meant to benefit you and to push you to be the best you can be. Sometimes you may get stuck going to a restaurant your friend wants to go to that you absolutely do not. But maybe just this one time you could do something for her. Not because you have to, but because you want to. I think the real meaning behind the expression “suck it up” is change your attitude. Hannah Montana got it right when she said: “life’s what you make it.” Trust me; I learned the hard way.
10) YOU DO NOT NEED TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE, BUT YOU DO NEED TO KNOW WHAT YOUR VALUES ARE
As I have said earlier in this post, high school is a time to figure yourself out. And even if you think you have already figured yourself out, you will come to find that either you are more different to who you are now than you thought or that there is more to you than you thought. Anyway, you are not fully developed yet. This should not scare you, though. You do not need to know who you are in order to make the right decisions. As long as you know what your values are, you will be fine. So what are your values? Know what you look for in a friend. Know what is okay and what is not–what will you tolerate? Know your personal rules–no smoking, drinking, dating, etc. Know what is important to you. If you know all these things and more, you are ready for high school as well as anything else that comes your way.
11) ALWAYS HAVE A GOAL–EVEN IF YOU CHANGE IT
You have probably noticed by now that you cannot sit around and expect things to happen. If you want to get anywhere in life, you have to have a goal. It does not matter how general or specific your goal is, as long as you have an idea of where you want to go. Also, make a plan of how you are going to reach it. Write down the steps to achieve your goal and start right away. If you decide you want something different, start again. But my advice is to always have something you are working toward. Not only is it good for you and your character, but it sets you up for a bright future.
12) YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL AND THE WORLD SHOULD KNOW IT
I may be a teenage girl who has never worn makeup–and has no interest to–but just like everyone else, I have struggled with self-image. In fact, I still do to this day. In this society, we are told what beauty is supposed to look like, and since no one fits into that category, everyone feels ugly. For me, my struggle has been my acne. Starting around when I turned 13, I all of a sudden got really bad acne. It was mostly on my forehead but also on my nose and chin. I tried so many different products and they all did zilch. Eventually, I got annoyed and picked them and now I have scars on my forehead (updated–they are fading!). I would always feel embarrassed to talk to people, thinking they were staring at my forehead. I even had a girl literally come up to me, address my acne, and then proceed to act disgusted by it. (She was just rude so whatever.) The fact was that I just had to accept my acne and not let it define me. What is on the inside really is the only thing that matters. Just think, how do you pick out your friends? Because, just a note, I know NOBODY that picks out their friends based on their skin condition or hair color. You can feel confident with no makeup on or with acne or with whatever struggle you have. Once you overcome it, you can truly feel beautiful. And you know what? If people ask you if you think you are pretty, you should say yes. There is nothing wrong with that. You are NOT self-centered for loving yourself, and anyone who says otherwise can answer to me;)
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