High school taught me much more than what was inside the textbooks. Not only did I learn more about who I was, I learned valuable life lessons that I will carry with me forever.

1. Grades do not define you

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Yes, none of us want to fail a test that we truly worked hard for. However, I can assure you that the bad grade will be forgotten in about one week. Grades do not define who a person is. The hard work that a person puts into their academic success is what defines them. I cannot recall how many times I did bad on an assignment. Nonetheless, I can recall how many times I would constantly put myself down and be hard on myself. It took me a long time to realize that one bad grade didn't define the type of person I was. Getting bad grades should not not be seen as a failure, but they should be looked at as a way to improve and work harder. I promise you that moping around about the assignment you failed wil not bring up your grade. However, I can also promise you that shaking yourself off and working harder will pay off in the long run.

2. You don’t have to fit in with the “popular crowd”

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Throughout my four years of high school, I tried so hard to fit in with the “popular crowd." In all honesty, it took me until my senior year to figure out that I didn't need to fit in with anyone. Now, I'm not saying that you shouldn't have a close group of friends. I'm only saying that you don't need to change who you really are for someone else. That was exactly what I was doing. I was trying to be someone I wasn't just to feel wanted by my peers. I came to the realization that if they did not want to be my friend for who I was, they did not need to be my friend at all. Please take my advice when I say that you shouldn't change for anyone. No matter what people may define as being “cool," you have to be your own person. If you're not into parties... don't go. If you want to party all weekend long... then you should do just that. Do what makes you happy, and don't worry about “fitting in."

3. Don’t compare yourself to others

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Comparing yourself to others, no matter the aspect, can be very toxic to your mental health. Comparing grades, appearances, and materialistic items is never a good idea. Try not to compare yourself to anyone else or what anyone else has. Be grateful for the person you are and for what you have in your life. I used to compare myself to others all the time. It only made me put myself down for no apparent reason. I started to learn and realize that God made me who I am for a reason, and comparing myself to others did not help me in any aspect of my life.

4. Hug your parents

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Cherish the little moments you have with your parents. Hug them when you're having a bad day. Hug them when you're having a great day. I used to think my parents were mean and unfair. However, as I got older I started to appreciate how stern my parents were with me. They taught me almost everything I know about life. Trust me, you're going to miss the moments where you can just go home and cry to your mom and dad about the awful day you've had at school. You're going to miss the movie and pizza nights. So, make sure to spend as much time as possible with your parents. You will miss not having them around everyday when you go off into the real world.

Another word of advice: Yes, your parents are ALWAYS right. Trust me.

5. You can get through the “break-ups”

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You will be okay. Speaking from experience, it will be hard at first, but it is not the end of the world. I know, relationship and even best-friend breakups are hard. Take time to grieve and then start drying the tears. Think of it as a time to focus and better yourself. You can and will get through it.

6. Take time to relax

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I know how hard it gets when you're constantly drowning in your assignments. I also know how hard it is to take a break from those assignments and just relax. It's going to be hard, but you have to do it. Take time for yourself and for the things that you love to do. You won't regret it.

7. Never procrastinate

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Procrastiantion is never good. Please, just don't do it. It never ends well.

8. Time really does fly by

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They weren't lying when they said that your time in high-school will fly by. The teachers, free textbooks, and the many deadline extensions will no longer be available as you move on in life. So, take advantage of all of your resources in high school. I promise that you will miss them.

Just remember, high school isn't all about the academics. Think of high school as your time to perform your “trial and error" experiments. It's all one big learning process, so take advantage of it while you can.