The number one question I've asked in high school is "why am I learning this?" Looking back at the experience, I have learned more life lessons in high school than actual algebra or history. There are some things teachers have taught me to get through life that just stuck. After having deep talk with a lot of my teachers, here are some of the most valuable things I've learned throughout my education:
1. No dream is too big to chase
Have you ever had a teacher that changed your life? In middle school, I had a teacher that completely shaped me into the determined student I am today. She’s helped me through many of my problems, big and small. On my high school graduation day she approached me with a bracelet. On the reverse side of the bracelet, engraved was “No dream is too big to chase”. Looking back, that is the quintessential message of my experience with her as my teacher
2. The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask
Everyone can agree starting college is a stressful time. I was in my freshman Philosophy class when we were studying Plato’s Timaeus. I thought I had everything under control until my professor came in and started interrogating everyone about the dozens of pages we were supposed to have read as prep the night before. I frantically searched my planner looking for the note saying I had to read.
It seemed everyone in the class got the memo but me. Embarrassed, I decided to approach my professor after class to ask him about it so I knew for the future. I introduced myself and said, “Hey, so this is a stupid question but how was I supposed to know what the reading was?” Even though it was a stupid question because the answer was the syllabus, he responded, “Kathleen. Let me tell you. As your professor, I hope you can learn from me academically. But more importantly, I hope you can learn from me for life advice. So the one thing I want you to get out of today’s class is the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.” That line stuck with me because as the semester went on, I realized how right he was because some of the most important things I have learned in life came from questions.
3. Dare to be wrong
In middle school, every student had to take Technology Education, which was essentially a wood workshop class. The only thing that course has ever done for me was send me to the hospital from a scroll saw project gone wrong. Aside from slicing my finger, the only thing I recall was sitting in class and looking over my teachers head, where on the chalkboard read “dare to be wrong”. Those four simple words made such an impact because it’s so true. From that point on whenever I was afraid to raise my hand, I thought to myself what’s the worst that can happen? Growing to be able to ask any question I want really helped me be the best student I could be.
4. You get what you put in
Pretty self explanatory as to the meaning behind this one. My field hockey coach used to preach, you get what you put in. Whenever we wanted to stop conditioning or whenever we weren't in the mood to give our all, we heard those six words. After having her as a coach for four years, those words are drilled in my head.
I saw that phrase come to life on the field. If there was a dodge I couldn’t quite execute, I would stay on the field by myself running drills until I was able to do this dodge as second nature. As I grew up and she was still my coach, preaching those words as I matured, I began to see, that phrase went so much further than just field hockey. In high school, I started to realize that applied to academics as well as sports and friendships. Walking off the field, that is one phrase that will always stick.
5. Everyone makes mistakes. But what makes you who you are is how you carry yourself afterwards
Another quote from my field hockey coach. In high school, she used to tell us that everyone makes mistakes. She then said that what makes you who you are is what you do after that mistake. You can either go about pouting, or you can learn from it and stand tall.
This was another example of something she said on the field that translated just as well off. Although she said that whenever we had a turnover or couldn’t get past the defender, I have found there will always be instances where you make mistakes and you will be so much better of standing tall rather than getting upset about it,
6. If you die today, you won’t die tomorrow
Mr. Brown aka Matty B. I don’t know where to start describing my relationship with my high school track coach. That man unknowingly helped shape how I think. He turned me from a girl who didn’t even like running, to an all-county track athlete. He motivated me beyond belief on the track and that changed who I was as an athlete. He always said the funniest things that we constantly quoted and laughed about (in a loving way).
Although he made us laugh, his remarks held truth. “If you die today, you won’t die tomorrow” is one of them. He designed a crazy hard workout for us to which we all groaned and pouted. That was the moment he told us: on the bright side, we won’t die tomorrow because we already died today from the workout.
We all laughed and said “ope, there’s another Matty B quote!” and it wasn’t until a little later I realized he was right. That workout was difficult but it made me stronger and it was workouts like that that made me win gold medals. This quote became a motto of my athletic career because once I realized dying today means being alive and strong the next day, I was able to push myself to lengths I did not know I could go.
7. A smile can go a long way
Everyone had an awkward phase. Mine reached it’s peak in fifth grade. Although my mom told me I was cute in fourth grade, I know I definitely wasn’t. I never smiled because I recognized the fact I was in an awkward stage.
There are only a few things I remember about elementary school but one of my vivid memories was standing in the library in the fourth grade and my teacher telling me to smile more because she thought I looked beautiful when I did. Somehow that made me smile all the time and become a bubbly person. To this day I’m still finding ways that statement holds truth because I find people are friendly to me because I’m bubbly and Mrs. Leo telling me to smile more is what got me to that point.
8. Always stay humble and kind.
Tim McGraw’s hit song in 2016. I kept hearing that song on the radio senior year and was annoyed by how often it played. It was slow and I was never in the mood to hear it. I always heard it but never listened until my high school graduation. We were just about to turn our tassels when our principal came out and told us to wait a minute to do so. He then had my friend, Jade, come up on stage.
He told us she will be singing a hit song and instructed us to listen to every word and take it to heart. Jade proceeded to sing Humble and Kind. For the first time, I listened to every word instead of listening to the song as a whole. There were so many lyrics that were genuine lessons that I just didn’t catch before. From that point on, every time I hear that song, I think of that moment I sat on my high school turf- enlightened. Listening to my friend sing helped me understand all the life lessons Tim McGraw shared with the world. Giving that song a listen and picking out all the morals is definitely worth your time.