7 Things I Wish I Knew Before High School
By Amelia Reuben
As my senior year approaches, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my past three years of high school- the classes I liked, the friendships I made, the mistakes I regret, the teachers I had, the activities I got involved in, what made me happy and what made me sad and so on. But something I’ve been thinking about a lot is my regrets. Not in a cynical, remorseful sort of way but in a “I wish I had known that sooner” sort of way. I image that I’ll probably have a lot of these moments throughout my life, and as I approach my last year of high school, a defining point in my life thus far, I’m experiencing my first significant “I wish I had known that sooner” epiphany. Sure I’ve had moments where I wish I hadn’t (or had) said or done something, but this moment feels longer, more constant.
Often times we figure things out once it’s too late, and that’s not to say I’m not happy with how my high school years turned out, I wouldn't trade my high school experience for anything, but there are definitely some things it would've been helpful to figure out earlier. My intention in writing this is hopefully to help those who are still in the middle or beginning of their high school career. Some of this is based on what I wish I’d known but also the things I learned along the way- I hope you find this helpful!
1. Find something that makes you happy: Try out a lot of things your freshman year- figure out what you like and don't like and try to commit and excel at it. For me, that was journalism (hence why I’m writing this article). It took me a while to find something I liked but when I did I tried to get as involved with it as possible and I tried to show leadership. And in the end it payed off and I was named editor in chief of my school’s paper- my dream. High school can be a drag, in fact most of the time it is, that's why it's so important to find something you enjoy.
2. Build good relationships with your teachers (especially your junior year): Building good relationships with your teachers every year is important but junior year is even more important. Not just because your grades matter more but also for recommendation letters. The harder you work and the better the relationship you build, the better the letter. Make an effort to participate in class and show leadership. Also recommendation letters and grades aside, teachers can be such helpful advocates and advisers to you when it comes to succeeding in the classroom and in school as a whole.
3. Get a job: Aside from the money you get, jobs can be so helpful in managing your time and improving your people skills. Even if you don't need the money, having a job will show colleges that you're responsible and have real-life working experience. You will also probably gain confidence in your ability to do things and have a newfound respect for your cashier, your waiter, etc.
4. Learn how to say no to people: boys, friends, pushy salespeople and so on. This one is self explanatory but don't force yourself to do something you aren't interested in doing and won't enjoy.
5. Don't worry about what people think of you: In the wise words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” This quote changed the way I think. We’re all too busy worrying about our own lives and what other people think of us that we don’t even have time to care about other people. People don't care nearly as much as you probably think they do about your life. Here's an example: think about the last thing you did that embarrassed you- you're probably fretted it for a while. Now think about the last time you saw someone else do something embarrassing. You probably don't even care (or can't think of a scenario). Neither do/ can they about you. This was the single most important thing I learned in high school.
6. Make something of your interests: If you aren't interested in things that lend themselves well to extra curriculars like soccer or theatre, for example, don't force yourself to do them because it's what everyone else is doing or it looks good on college apps. If you're interested in makeup start a business, if you like film make a youtube channel, if you enjoy fashion start a blog. Find a way to make something of your interests.
7. Get involved: volunteer to help plan school events, join clubs, sports, the newspaper (!), ect or. You'll meet people and help make a difference and have more of a say in your school community.