By: Kristen Finstad
Flash back to a few years ago, I had recently graduated college, was frantically job searching and figuring out the real world, and decided to take a moment to reflect on what I’d learned in my young adult years. And though I wrote this post a few years ago, I think a lot of it is worth repeating. A few words of wisdom to my teenage self and to anyone else out there trying to navigate those middle school and high school years:
Popularity isn’t everything- I know it seems like the only way to achieve anything is to be popular, to have the cutest and most expensive clothes, to have everyone know your name and to be invited to all the parties, but your status in high school does not carry over to real life. Post-high school life is a fresh start and nobody knows who you were in your tiny town.
It’s cool to get involved in your school-I used to be embarrassed of being in 70% of the school clubs’ photos in the yearbook, of being too involved, of attending every sporting event, and of being friends with teachers. Looking back, these were the best things I could have done. Your time in high school is short; you don’t get opportunities like this ever again. You might as well use your resources and make the most of it.
You don’t need to have your life figured out- With college approaching, I know it seems like you have a bunch of life-changing decisions to make, but don’t worry. Whether you’re absolutely sure of what you want to be when you grow up or you have no idea, things have a way of working themselves out how they’re supposed to. It may not be when you’re 18, or 21, or 25, but someday.
You’re beautiful- You stand in front of your mirror before leaving for school and think, “That’ll do.” You walk around comparing yourself to classmates and feel inadequate. You may not see it now, and boys may not see it now, but someday you will, and they will. Be confident and happy, because you’re beautiful.
If you think this is hard, just wait ‘til college and real life- I’m not saying high school homework isn’t stressful because it definitely can be, but all of it is helping you unlock the next level. Keep working hard, but don’t take it too seriously…you’re just a kid!
Hang out with Mom and Dad- Yeah, yeah…it’s embarrassing to stay at home and watch movies with Mom and Dad on a Friday night, but if you knew how much you wish you could do just that when you’re a grown adult with responsibilities, you’d jump at the opportunity. They’re cooler than you think and they love you more than anyone else.
Think about who your real friends are- Hint: They’re not the ones who only come around when it’s convenient for them. Whether friends since preschool or the friend you met in high school gym class, they’re the ones who care about you all the time and will be at your side when you need them, just like you would be for them.
Your braces are worth it- The dentist appointments every few weeks, the painful adjustments, the awkward “closed-mouth smile” photos, the impossible decision of what color bands to get…embrace it! It’s all worth it and someday your smile will be your most-complimented feature.
Have good, innocent fun- T.P. someone’s house (okay, technically illegal, but do it anyway), leave a taco on someone’s doorstep (this was a regular occurrence, folks), crash a different school’s dance, get into a little mischief, you’re young. But you won’t regret not going to parties like most of your classmates, so keep doing you.
Befriend the foreign exchange students- One day you’ll study in another country and want to make friends too. Life in a scary new place is much easier with friends, and chances are they’ll help you survive the school year too. Not to mention, they’ll become lifelong friends.
It’s okay to think for yourself- You don’t have to wear Uggs just because everyone else is, or cut your bangs the way everyone else is. It’s okay to run around acting crazy and get judged by everyone. Their opinions don’t matter in the long run, and one day they’ll wish they were themselves instead of following the crowd.
You’re gonna miss this- I know you’re ready to move on and start fresh, but when you’re in college you’ll miss high school. When you’re a real life adult, you’ll miss college. Moral of the story is to enjoy where you’re at because you’ll never be younger than you are right now.