An Open Letter To Next Year's High School Freshmen

An Open Letter To Next Year's High School Freshmen

How to make the next four years of your life amazing
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Dear incoming high school freshmen,

At this point in your lives, you have reached your first big transition. Many attended different elementary schools; however, more commonly, children attend the same elementary school through eighth grade. You have spent approximately nine years at this school, and have created a bond with your class and the teachers. You cannot imagine leaving this, and do not believe it is possible to have anything like this in high school. I am here to tell you that you are wrong. You will make some of your best friends in high school, many of whom you did not know in elementary school. It is a fascinating time. You are discovering your interests and who you wish to become. These four years are more important than any portion of your elementary school experience. Right now you are around 14 years old, and you are entering the stage in your life that you will miss the most when it comes to an end.

Just four short years ago, I was in your shoes. I was preparing to start my freshmen year in high school with more anxiety than I had ever experienced. All of my friends were attending private, charter, or technical high schools, leaving me at my local public high school. I saw myself as lesser than them because of this. Their schools had a better reputation than mine. I now know that the school you go to does not define you; rather, you define the school you go to. High school is what you make it. If you do not try to learn, you will have a negative outcome. You will have poor grades, few friends, and you will struggle to get into college. If you start out strong and study hard, you will create an amazing starting point for yourself. You can only improve. Many view freshman year as a trial run, but I can tell you believing that will become your biggest downfall. If you do not give it your all freshman year, you will go into sophomore year with a low GPA and it will be hard to get it to a point that reflects your true abilities.

You have heard every single guidance counselor, teacher, student leader, principal, and even your parents tell you that you need to get involved. I will admit that I was pretty tired of hearing that by the time I started freshman year. Spoiler alert: you will hear it again throughout the whole college touring process. Freshman year, I did not heed the warnings of these people, and I did not get involved. That is by far one of my biggest regrets. Freshman year I came home after school, did my homework, and watched Netflix. I did not meet my peers through clubs and I was pretty bored. I joined a myriad of clubs sophomore year. I started with Model UN, and found that it was not for me. I found my niche in peer leadership. I was involved with leadership and community service in different ways for the remainder of my high school career. By trying out different clubs, I found where I belonged and what I loved to do. Also, joining clubs should not be solely for the purpose of putting them on your college applications. Colleges know when you join ten clubs senior year just to put them on your applications. As you fill out the Common App, it becomes clear how involved you were. It was kind of frightening that it showed that I had nothing for freshmen year. I made up for it sophomore through senior year, but do not put it off. Join early because you will probably meet some of your best friends through activities, while concurrently discovering where you belong.

You do not have to do anything you are uncomfortable with. High school is depicted in movies as being full of parties and drinking. Sure there are parties and more likely than not you may find yourself in a situation that you do not know how to get out of. My first tip is to be honest with your parents. If you find yourself in a situation where there is alcohol and you are uncomfortable, call your parents to come pick you up. They will be glad you called. If you are able to, leave the situation. You may be worried about other people judging you for leaving, but chances are they will be too drunk to remember you were even there, never mind that you left. Many high schools have an “in the presence of” rule. This means even if you were not drinking, you can be punished for being in the presence of alcohol - especially for athletes, being caught can be detrimental to the rest of your year. Just a reminder, your permanent record starts as soon as you step foot into freshman orientation. There are no warnings. You do not want to make a silly mistake as a freshman and have colleges hold it against you four years later. If you are uncomfortable drinking, do not be afraid to let your friends know; chances are they will not judge you and will not force you to do anything you do not want to, but with this comes a sense of mutual respect. You should not judge your friend for drinking if they respect your choice not to. Do not risk your life or those around you. Never drink and drive, or get in a car with someone who has been drinking. Everyone in your life from your teachers and peers to your family is rooting for you. They all want to see you walk across the stage at graduation and head off to your dream college.

It scares me when people say that high school is the best four years of your life, because that means it doesn't get better. High school will have ups and downs, and those four years will be some of the best years of your life. Make the most of these next four years because they will be over before you know it. I know as a freshman I did not believe everyone when they said that. I had a senior tell me that they were jealous that I was a freshman and to be honest, at the time I thought they were crazy. I understand what they meant now that I have graduated. You have four years of amazing memories ahead of you. You have four years of seeing the best friends you will ever meet every day and being surrounded by the best teachers that you have ever met. When you graduate it should not end, but in all honesty a piece of it does. I went from seeing my best friend every day to not speaking for a few days at a clip. I graduated from high school two weeks ago, and I have yet to see my best friends in person since then. When you graduate something changes and you lose a little piece of something. You will forever hold onto your memories and you will remain friends with those you have encountered along the way. You leave with an overarching sense of nostalgia, excitement, but also regret. You will wish you had taken more art classes (I know that’s one of my biggest regrets) and you will wish you tried harder in your sophomore English class - once again another regret of mine. You will now become an alum of a place that you were once a member. Even with the inevitable small tinges of regret, you will realize that these past four years are more than you could have ever dreamed of.

Make the most of it and good luck,

A Member of the Class of 2016
Cover Image Credit: SHS Class of 2016 Facebook

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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Summer And Jobs

Working summers doesn't have to be tedious.

Aasayed
Aasayed
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Like many other college students, I was ready for summer but was kinda bummed that I had to work. Its not that I didn't like where I was working, I actually was really lucky to be working in a hospital environment but I just hated being alone all summer from 9-5. I've had this job for a few years now and a few other paid interns came and went but I never really connected with any of them. This year is different though.

I got really lucky to have another intern work with me that was very similar to me. The tasks we got were always simple but they were made to be more fun because I got to do them while talking with someone else. Now I actually enjoy and look forward to going to work.

The key to finding a good job is finding one that you enjoy doing and one that will help you gain knowledge that will help you out with future career plans. Working with friends also make tasks enjoyable! I would be careful with working with your friend however because if your job needs you to be serious and focused, being around your best friends may distract you from that.

Another thing that definitely makes summer jobs more enjoyable are taking breaks! It is your summer vacation after all! I'm not saying don't take a day off just to sit around, but if you make plans with family and friends, take a Friday off and enjoy the warm weather and good company! Employers understand that us college students and on break and have lives, they are usually very lenient with days off!

If you have to do a summer job to make money to live off of or pay for college, the best thing to do is look at the big picture. If you don't enjoy your job but can't afford to quit, remember that the money if going to help you out a lot. Also, this job is probably only for the summer right? So it's not permanent my friend! Get through these annoying few weeks and you will be back at college, taking steps for a bigger and brighter future.

Summer jobs are tough, I know, but make the most of it! And don't forget to enjoy it whenever you can!!!

Aasayed
Aasayed

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