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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

5 Things I Wish I Had Known in High School

Sometimes I wish I was still in high school. I never thought I would miss it back then, but it had it's good times. It was a relatively carefree time in life. You had your childhood still... and you probably had your family and even grandparents around still. You had your parents and teachers to fall back on if needed.

It's not even that I miss high school itself. I was SO ready to graduate and move on and be done with all that. But, I miss the structure and routine of it. Show up at school every day. Pay attention in class. Do the homework. And, things tend to end up ok. There's school lunches, and assemblies where you get to do nothing. Your parents probably pay the rent and buy your food. Next year, you know the plan: you'll be in the next grade. You don't have to search for another job, find an apartment yourself, plan a wedding... (usually).

Life is relatively planned back then, and there are people showing you the ropes of life and planning activities for you. Prom. Youth summer camp. School sports. Birthday parties. Guidance counselors. Church youth groups. Community sports and programs for teens. Youth leadership conferences. All sorts of things...

Here are 10 things I wish I had known in high school:

1) Don't be in such a hurry to grow up, kid.

When I was 15, I remember sitting in my bedroom with a friend talking about growing up. We were trying to imagine what it would be like to have our own apartment and to be on our own. I couldn't even imagine it...

I was super ready to get out of high school. I was so over it. I wanted to move on and do my own thing. I even dyed my hair once to try to look older. I think I dressed older too... people tended to think I was older. You have your whole life to have a job, your own place, your own... everything. Enjoy the (relative) carefreeness now. In high school, most of us don't have jobs... or rent to pay... or as big of problems as adults. Don't be in such a hurry... enjoy the carefree times now. Enjoy living with your parents... you won't be forever. Enjoy sitting in class learning... it's sometimes more pleasant than a job. Enjoy spending goofy time with friends, and going to your first prom, your first visit to some city, your first time trying out some sport, your first "R" rated movie, your first school dance, your first pet, and going on your first date...

2) Do what you want to do... and pick the college that's right for you.
Choose a college you want to go to. Think about the costs and scholarships and location and benefits of each... but don't pick a school or major just because of the potential job income later. Not everyone will understand or believe in your choices, but... so long as you're happy with it, go for it.

3) Enjoy the firsts.
Being a young teen is a cool time in life. You're experiencing many firsts... your first college application. Maybe your first job. Your first prom. Your first date. Your first amusement park or concert by yourself. Your first road-trip by yourself (maybe). Your first weekend alone at home while your parents are out of town. Your first party. Your first college essay... or college class. Your first time thinking about your adult life. Your first time trying squid. Your first volunteer experience or mission trip or band trip. Some of your first non-kiddie friendships. You're looking your best... your first time looking all adult-like. You're relatively in shape, not wrinkley, have loads of energy. Everything seems new and interesting and exciting... whether or not you'll admit it to your parents. I felt so grown up going to my first prom and on my first date.

4) Don't overstress on school and college applications.

I really missed out on a lot of potential fun and friendships because I was so obsessed with preparing for college and applying to the right colleges. Plan and prepare... but don't go overboard. Let yourself have the friendships, the goofy fun, and just the chance to be a kid while you can. Dress up for Halloween. Get slushies in the summer. Spend days at the pool doing nothing. Read a dozen novels. Sleep until noon. Ask your parents' advice on things. Talk to your friends, your teachers, and others to figure out what you want in life. Wear neon, or try different silly fashion trends. Play in the sprinkler. Look through your old toys, your old home videos, your old photo albums. Write colorful notes to your friends. Spend hours on the phone with your friends for no reason... just because you can. Eat marshmellow-chip-chocolate sandwiches. 

I wish I had spent more time with friends, gotten to know more real friends, tried more hobbies, lounged in front of the TV, just hung out... napped... been a teen. You don't have to be successful or planning or achieving or worrying all the time... Relax. Live. Enjoy a little. You're only young once...

5) This, too, shall pass.

There might be some challenges in your life that seem like they'll last forever... but, they probably won't. Whether it's high school gossip or peer pressure or feeling like you can't do what you want with curfews... that stuff won't last forever. Bad grade? It's not the end of the world. Break up with a boyfriend? It sucks, but it's not the end of the world. Some kid at school not nice to you, or you're just nervous around your peers? It's not the end of the world. Get rejected from your dream school? It HURTS, but it's not the end of the world, either. If you need help, ask for it... until you find it. There's no shame in asking for help.

This, too, shall pass... good or bad, these moments won't last forever.

The older you get, the more your perspective changes. A bad grade seems like the worst thing ever when you're a freshmen in high school... but life moves on, and by the time you're in college, bad grades don't seem so bad. They're still stressful, but you gain life experience and things start to seem more in perspective.

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