Believe me when I say that I was beyond ready to let go of high school.
I looked at my sheltered, north-shore community of Glenview, Illinois as a mere fraction of what the real world was like. While my high school provided me with opportunities and memories, I as convinced that I was ready to forget everything about high school as I transitioned into a new era of college. I believed nothing from high school would matter in the long run. However, as I am settling in at my new home, I've found myself reminiscing on the people I knew, the choices I made, and the chances I took in high school. More importantly, I've found myself thinking about what I didn't know in high school, and what could have been done differently.
I've put together a list of the top eleven tips I believe every high schooler should take to heart, and that every former high schooler can relate to.
1. The Cool Girl Isn't Always So Cool.
I first met her in middle school when it seemed I was the only person not invited to her bat mitzvah. She was drop-dead gorgeous, had a stunning singing voice, and a popular boyfriend. I admired her and aimed to be as cool as she was. The next thing I knew, the coolest girl I knew had left to take night classes, and the rumors of her wild, erratic lifestyle were all anyone could talk about. Just keep in mind that no one can really have it all, even the girl who wants everyone to think she does.
2. It's Okay To Not Belong To A Specific Group.
Take it from someone who spent four years bouncing around from clique to clique. I remember being asked by a girl in my prom group which "friend group" I belonged to-- as if that was a way to classify me. I never felt I really had a specific group of friends, a Taylor Swift squad, and that was perfectly okay. I've made more genuine friendships by reaching out to people than I would have if I stayed locked inside a bubble.
3. Plan Your Future Early.
My fourteen-year-old self wanted to be the next J.K. Rowling. At fifteen, she wanted to be a veterinarian, and at sixteen she wanted to be a history teacher. Everyone has their strengths and passions, so look for something you're interested in as early as possible.
4. Embrace The Awkward.
You might look in the mirror at fourteen and think, "Damn, this outfit looks amazing on me!" A year later, you'll find yourself deleting that picture from Facebook because that outfit is actually the most uncoordinated catastrophe you've ever been seen in. You're going to trip over your own two feet, spill things, mess up first dates, and rock the braces for longer than you care to. Embrace it, because it doesn't get more awkward than this.
5. Don't Revolve Your Life Around a Significant Other.
It happened to me every year. There were definitely times when I put my closest friends in the back of my mind to focus on a boy I liked. More often than not, I would end up lonely and without close friends to rely on after a breakup. It's okay to have someone special in your life, but make sure to remember that your friends are just as special!
6. Get a Job.
The two jobs I had throughout high school introduced me to some of my closest friends as well as taught me to grow up outside of the house. Getting my first paycheck that I earned made me feel proud and responsible. Having a job will give you something to do when you're bored, and it can't hurt to start building a resume as soon as possible.
7. Put Your Health First.
It doesn't matter if you have the flu, or you're stressed out, or you're feeling depressed. Your school likely has resources for you if you need help, and you should never be afraid to reach out.
8. Get Involved!
Try a sport! Join a club! I immediately ruled out every sport or club I thought I wouldn't be good at in high school, and I regret it. People join organizations to make friends, and besides, you don't have to be a rockstar at everything. What's the harm in putting yourself out there?
9. Experiment With Your Style.
There was once a time when I thought overalls, dip-dyed hair, and folded-over Uggs made for the most stylish outfit around. It might sound silly, but the way you dress is going to reflect your personality and show people who you are. You don't have to dress in diamonds and pearls to make a statement with your style; just express yourself and have fun with it!
10. Don't Hide From Your Parents.
Now, I'm not saying you have to tell your parents every single thing. After all, I'm someone who has snuck out, thrown parties, and lied about where I was going at night often. That said, there were plenty of times when I wished I could talk to my mom about my friends, my grades, and my love life (or lack thereof), but couldn't because I hadn't been honest. It's okay to sneak around sometimes, but remember that your parents are rooting for you, and they want you to feel comfortable talking to them.
11. It's Okay To Suck At Something.
As someone who never got above a C on any math test, I went through all of high school beating myself up for being awful at math. I spent so much time stressing out over math that I hardly paid attention to the excellent grades I was bringing home in English and history. Work hard, but remember that nobody is expected to ace every subject in school.
For all my friends and family in high school still, it gets better, and you will make it. For all my friends and family who have graduated, isn't freedom great?