I might not have learned some key points about life the easy way, but I still learned. Here are some important things I've realized in my life so far.
1. Push yourself to exceed as a child
When I was in elementary school, I would bring all of my locker contents home every night. I would go above and beyond what the homework was despite being ages 7-12. I mentally prepared my brain to be able to learn fast and physically taught myself how to deal with stress; which just prepared me for my higher education years.
2. Work hard, play hard
Some young adults play too hard, where I, in contrast, worked too hard. I missed a lot of high school memories (Friday night football games, prom, fundraisers, parties) because I was too focused on working/studying. Although it was to my benefit, I'll never be able to recall memories some of my peers had experienced.
3. Be stingy with your money
Looking back, I realize how much money I could have right now if I had asked for money for holidays instead of gadgets as a young child/pre-teen. Also, if I had not spent so much money at expensive stores as a teenager and just thrifted clothes.
4. Don't get angry at your parents
Being in college and missing my mom, I look back on the dumb fights we had when we could have been spending precious time together, that we now rarely have.
5. Respect your teachers
Some of the most influential people from my life have been my teachers, and not necessarily the ones whom I've liked. Just because they make you work hard for your grades, does not give you the right to be rude to them. They help shape young people into determined, youthful workers and deserve so much respect for that.
6. Take pictures
A picture is (apparently) worth a thousand words. Being away from my hometown for college, which is all I've known, has its sad days. Being able to look at my phone and see pictures, dating years, brings me a lot of joy, I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have them.
7. Take AP classes in high school
College is already hard; most students have to balance classes, work, living with someone, and maintaining their sanity while in college. High school, on the other hand, was easy if you did the bare minimum. Taking AP classes and working hard in them during high school will give you college-credit going in and make your life slightly easier.
8. Don't get caught up on that one guy/girl
Relationships, in the first 19 years of life, don't always last. These years are supposed to be for having fun and finding yourself, don't waste all your energy on one person.
9. Work when you're not busy
I'm not saying to pull double shifts every weekend like I did, but even working a few hours a week will steadily build up your money-fund, which is imperative if you're planning on moving out or going to college after high school.
10. Be nice to everyone
This may sound self-explanatory, but it needs to be re-said. So many people in high school I realized were struggling with various things when I had no idea. Just opening the door for someone or saying good morning may make their day.
11. Try to be outgoing
As someone who was shy and introverted in high school, college has forced me out of that shell. I've had to learn how to meet with advisers/professors, ask for directions, and go to the doctor without freaking out. It's better to try and make yourself more outgoing, before adult-life makes you do it, willing or not.
12. Don't fret the small things
Despite still struggling with this, I've definitely learned fretting over dumb things isn't worth it. Will it matter next week? Next month? Ten years from now? If the answer is no, let it go.
13. Be true to yourself
Don't try to fit in with everyone else. The arguably "coolest" people I've met at this point in life were the ones who went to the beat of their own drum.
14. Never lie
I've found that even "white lies" can make you feel awful, and turn into something you've never intended. Honesty is the best way and will make you feel better, too.
15. Don't hold grudges
When you're young, you feel invincible, like nothing will ever make you regret something you've done. Life is short, and shouldn't be spent holding grudges against friends/family, especially when they won't be here forever.
16. Stay informed about politics
Being the young generation, you're not taken seriously. In spite of this, your vote will still count and you can gain knowledge of what to do, or not do, for your nation; when your age is in the majority, making decisions for future generations.
17. Numbers don't define you
Grade? Weight? ACT score? So much of our young life is spent defined by numbers, even before important numbers (I.e. how much student loans you have to pay back) matter. Don't let these numbers consume your life. They're not tangible, thus they can't be your whole life.
18. Don't spend all day using technology
In past years, when I didn't feel like doing anything, I sometimes would binge Netflix or go on my phone. Even if you're not in the mood to be around people, you can still do other things that benefit you (I.e. reading a book and being around nature).
19. Act your age
Don't try to act too old when you're a child, because you're going to miss the "simple life" when you're older. At the same time, don't forget your responsibilities of being x years old, maturity stands out and will make you look good.
Just because we're still "young" we still have valuable knowledge that we can pass on to those younger than us.