Right now you’re taking your SAT or applying to colleges. There isn’t much I can tell you that you don’t already know. I believe in your ability to make it through the trials of life and succeed and thrive. But in light of the concerns that some of you have confided in me, consider this a listicle version of an open letter. To my dear underclassmen, you know who you are.
1. Remember the people who do good things.
You’re older now and that means those younger than you are going to look up to you. I grew up with an older sister, and I know that I looked up to her so much that I would copy everything she did. As juniors and seniors in high school, you all are those role models for your underclassmen too. Positive reinforcement honestly works, especially in work settings.
2. Life is tough.
And guess what? It only gets harder. But that’s no excuse to give up and run away. Trust me, I’ve wanted to do just that. But that’s the interesting thing about adversity: it makes you stronger. Whenever you feel like giving up, remember this: “One thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” (Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore)
3. Don’t fight fire with fire.
Diplomacy matters. And it can make the difference between a small argument and a full-out war. Remember that there aren’t just two sides to every conflict; there can be three, five, or twenty. Try your best to hear all sides instead of confronting others head-on without all of the information. Perspective, patience, and compassion will help you make it out.
4. Don’t let anybody treat you like you don’t matter.
High school is weird. Once you become a junior or senior, people start treating you like an adult when they want something done, but like a child when they want to be right. Sometimes, you might even come across an adult who takes advantage of their position of authority over you. You have the right to stand up against unjust behavior, especially that which burdens you emotionally. Don’t be afraid to speak up when you experience or witness something wrong. The world needs more people who are willing to say something. Be that person.
Don’t forget to breathe. Take a day off every once in a while. Go for a walk and see something beautiful. Spend time with your family and the people you love most. Smile more. Keep moving and see where life takes you. And when you’ve had a great adventure, tell me all about it. :)