During high school, I literally counted the days until I was away at college, living my own life and free to do whatever I pleased. However, now that I look back on that time period, there are so many things I should have appreciated more and so many things I should have spent less time caring about. High school wasn't always a dream, but I wish I cherished that time more. Being away at college, I miss my friends and family terribly, despite loving my school, and I regret not waiting to do certain things that are reserved for adulthood. If I could go back in time and grab my high school self by the shoulders, these are the five things I would say to her.
1. Appreciate your family now
Looking back, I really wish I would have spent more quality time with my parents and brothers before I left for college. I spent so much wasted time in high school spending time with people that I didn't care about and I wish I could go back and change that more than anything. I miss the little things like sitting at the kitchen table doing homework across from my Mom or watching Jeopardy with the family while we ate our dinner. These little moments are something I can't have while I'm away at college, and I wish I could have known how much these moments would mean to me someday, back then.
2. Spend as much time with your friends as possible
I cannot even describe how much I miss my hometown friends. I miss all of the inside jokes, the countless hours spent talking about pointless things, the game nights, and most of all, knowing that I could turn to them for literally anything. It is really hard to find people in college that can even replicate the friends you had at home (I'm not saying it's impossible), so cherish every minute you have with those crazy people. Things change when you go to college because both you and all your friends are leading vastly different lives now. It can be hard to feel the same way you did before you all left for college, but it is also so wonderful to see all of your friends grow into incredible adults. So, don't leave that hangout session early because your tired or want to watch Netflix, because someday you would give anything to have one of those nights back. I know I do.
3. Stop looking for love, it will find you
I spent so many pointless hours in high school going on dates with guys that didn't deserve a minute of my attention, because I so badly wanted someone to love me. I saw all of these girls at my high school with long-term boyfriends and I cried wondering why that couldn't be me, eventually causing me to waste my time desperately looking for my person. However, it was right when I stopped looking that love found me. The universe knew that those boys weren't right for me (and I think, deep down, I did too) and then, after I patiently waited, love was offered to me on a silver platter. My person found me and I thank my lucky stars every day for him because he gives me the kind of love I have dreamed of for years.
4. Don't try to grow up too fast
I wanted so many things in high school, so badly, that I just couldn't have yet. I would get so mad at my parents because they would say that I wasn't old enough to do those things yet and that I would have all the freedom in the world to do whatever I pleased in college, but I just needed to wait. I would get angry and frustrated because I wanted, more than anything, to be treated like an adult and be able to do adult things, but, looking back, I was just a naive little kid; I know that now. Also, the things that I was so excited for really weren't all they were cracked up to be. However, I owe a thank you to my parents for not letting me grow up too fast, because, let's be honest, growing up kind of sucks.
5. Everything will work out and you are going to be ok
I stressed out over so many trivial things in high school that, in the grand scheme of things, do not matter at all now. I put so much pressure on myself trying to accomplish goals that would end up not mattering once I left for college. While I'm not saying that I'm not extremely proud of my accomplishments, but I could have saved myself a lot of tears if I knew then that if I didn't achieve something, it wouldn't ruin my life. On the contrary, I feel as though I grew so much more as a person in those instances of failure, than those instances of success. Everything happens for a reason. I got rejected by 8 colleges because the universe knew that I belonged at UW-Madison. I went through a horribly traumatic experience because the universe knew I would come out stronger on the other side. I had my dreams dashed more times than I could count because the universe had a different plan in store for me than the one I envisioned for myself. I think a quote by Robert Frost sums up this piece of advice very well, "In three words, I can sum up everything about life: it goes on."