High School Advice

Dear sweet, innocent, beautiful girl,

High school is tough. It’s challenging- in more ways than one. But, you’re tougher. I know because I’ve seen it. But I also know the world can be a horrible place. Or it can be beautiful. So, before you take on life’s newest challenge- newest gift- here are 25 things you must remember. From me, to you. 25 things to help you make your world a little more beautiful. 25 things to make you a little tougher.

1.You’re beautiful. And I know that you hear this all the time, from everyone. And it’s written on bumper stickers and cups and tee shirts and the sides of buildings. It’s found all over the hashtags of Twitter, the selfies of Instagram, and the like buttons of Facebook. When people say it, it sounds like an auto-generated response on an answering machine. “Yes,” “hello,” “you’re beautiful,” “Please press 1.” And it’s lost all genuineness and meaning to you. But, it’s true, you are beautiful, inside and out. And you have to promise me you’ll remember this, because one day you’ll be walking down the hall and you’ll see a girl who has nicer hair than you do, or tanner skin, or greener eyes, or a prettier smile, and for a moment, you’ll doubt that you’re beautiful. And although it may last for only a moment, the next day you will wake up and realize your makeup doesn’t quite cover those things you don’t like about yourself. And suddenly, that momentary doubt has become an eternity. And you’re worth so much more than the amount of likes you get on Instagram or the amount of time you spend straightening your hair or perfecting your eyeliner. So, never forget to tell yourself that you’re beautiful every morning while you stare at yourself in the mirror, because eventually, if you say it enough, you will begin to believe it.

2.Choose your friends wisely. I know, it sounds cliché, but it is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Choose friends who encourage you, support you, love you, and care for you. And don’t be afraid to end friendships with those friends who don’t. Remember, that sometimes the best friends are not those you spend the most time with, have known the longest, or talk to the most. Sometimes the ones you rarely see and barely speak to are the ones that care the most. So be friends with someone whose love is overwhelming and whose heart is caring. And make sure you are that friend to those around you.

3.Have confidence in your abilities and challenge yourself, but know your limits. Take that AP class you’re afraid might be too difficult. Take that class that everyone says is a lot of work. Believe in yourself. Challenge yourself. Work hard. Persevere. And if you can’t do it? Don’t. Don’t push yourself so far you can’t see an end. And don’t ever do anything to prove yourself to others. The college credit you may earn or the respect you may gain are not worth your health and sanity. Trust me, I have been there and done that. And in a year from now, you won’t regret that extra two hours of sleep a night, or that time you spent with your family or friends instead of with homework, but you will regret the sleepless nights you had and the stress you caused yourself. So believe in yourself, but know when you’ve had enough.

4.That cute boy in your English class, on the school’s soccer team, at your lunch table, or in your youth group might break your heart. Or he might not. And I pray every day that he doesn’t. But if he does, it will hurt, and that’s okay for a while. So cry, get angry, rip up his picture, call your friends to complain about boys, eat a gallon of ice cream, watch that romantic movie for the 100th time; it’s okay. But, eventually you have to get over it and move on. Because if you don’t, you’re letting him hurt you all over again. And no guy should hurt you that much for that long. And no guy should ever be allowed to make you feel bad about yourself. So don’t let him. You will survive, and one day you’ll
learn to forgive him. And if he doesn’t break your heart, please make sure that he is kind, caring, gentle, loving, and that he treats you as you deserve to be treated. Make sure that he helps you grow, and that, above all, he loves Jesus with his whole heart. Because if he doesn’t, he can’t love you as you deserve to be loved.(Actually, you’ll probably break his heart. Because any guy would be heart broken if you broke up with him. But, if you do have to break his heart, let him down easy. Be kind. )

5.You will have teachers you don’t agree with, or who can’t teach, or who you just don’t like. And they will make going to class every day miserable. And you won’t want to show up, and you’ll complain about them to anyone who will listen. But please remember that teachers are people too. They make mistakes; they have bad days, and they need grace and forgiveness just as much as you do. So please treat them with respect and kindness. You will learn lessons from these teachers that are far more valuable than any math formula, French verb, or chemistry term. You will learn how to get along with and respect those you disagree with. You will learn how to acquire knowledge independently without the intervention of others.You will learn that sometimes in life you have to deal with people that you don’t like. You’ll learn forgiveness and gentleness. It may not seem like it now, but these teachers are the ones you’ll learn the most from.

6.Respect your parents, and be kind to your brothers. Give your mom a hug. Tell your dad you love him. You’re their little girl, and you’re growing up faster than they could imagine. I know it may seem like they are unfair, or embarrassing, or that they never want you to have any fun, but they love you, and they just want what’s best for you. You’re growing up before their eyes, and they are afraid that one day you won’t need them at all. So let them embarrass you, and hug you, and tell you what to do. Because one day they won’t need to, or they won’t be able to, and you’ll want nothing more than for your mom to tell you what to do or for your dad to give you a hug. And be kind to your brothers. Because they love you. And your younger brothers are afraid you’ll leave and won’t want to talk to them again. And your older brother cares for you and wants to make sure you’re okay. So play that childish game with them, watch that stupid Youtube video they wanted to show you, help them with their homework, listen to them talking about the latest game or app, and at least pretend to care. Because one day, you’ll miss all that time with them.

7.Popularity isn’t everything. I know, at the age of 14, the most important thing is how many friends you have or if that super popular girl likes you. But in a few years, none of that will matter. As soon as you graduate, people will remember the way you treated others, and not the number of people you knew. So treat everyone kindly and with respect, and don’t worry about who likes you and who doesn’t. Because if you are kind, people will love you, and those who don’t will be missing out on an opportunity to know an amazing person. So you may not be liked by everyone, but you’ll be loved by those that are important, and the number of friends you have does not determine your worth.

8.Don’t form your opinions based on the beliefs of those around you. Don’t choose your favorite subject because of what your friends like. Don’t choose your favorite football team based on who your family cheers for. Don’t form an opinion on that book because of what your English teacher or classmates think. Don’t ever feel a certain way about anything simply because your family, pastor, friend, teacher, or coach told you you should. Explore things for yourself, absorb information, listen to others’ thoughts, become informed, and make your own decisions. And don’t be afraid to change it later. You’ll gain more knowledge and experience more things, and those will shape your thoughts and opinions, and that’s okay. And don’t worry if it is different than everyone else’s, but keep in mind that others have opinions too, and theirs’ is just as valid and as important to them as yours’ is to you.

9.You will have bad days. You will have days when you will want to shut yourself off from the world and just forget about your life for a while. And you know what? That’s okay. Go home, shut yourself in your room, cry, blast your music, read a book, take a nap, drink some tea, and ignore the world for a while. But wake up tomorrow and remember that it’s a new day.

10.You will get a bad grade, or two, or twenty. Don’t let some bad grades get you down. You’re smart and talented and one bad grade doesn’t change that. Yeah, it may hurt, at least the first time, and it may make you feel like a failure. But, don’t dwell on it. Forget about it and move on. However you need to do it, do it. Cry, get upset, hide it from your parents. Whatever. Just get over it, and the second time it won’t hurt as much. And remember that your worth is not measured by a number on a page.

11.Don’t bother your brother too much. When you see him in the hallway, smile and say hi. But don’t run up to him with all your friends. Don’t bother him when he is with his friends. Don’t give him a hard time about that girl, or that friend, or that whatever. Don’t annoy his friends when you pass by them. He needs his space, just like you do, and guys are weird, and they don’t seem to like their younger sisters hanging around. But don’t ever doubt that he loves you, because, despite what he may say, he does. And he will always be there for you to help you or protect you. So ask him about how to deal with that teacher. Tell him about that mean kid. Talk to him when you need help. Because he will help you and protect you, just as you would protect your younger brothers. You’re his younger sister, and whether you need his help or not, he will help you because he loves you.

12.Always have snacks. Keep some in your purse, your locker, your backpack, your soccer bag, wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just have some. Because one day you will forget your lunch, you won’t have time to pack it, you won’t like whatever the school is serving, you’ll forget you have practice after school, or you’ll have to stay after for a last minute study session. And you will be hungry. And always have a bottle of water.

13.Be helpful, but don’t let people use you. Help your friends with homework if they need it. Offer to proof read that essay for them. But don’t let them take advantage of your helpfulness. Don’t do their work for them, and know when you need to say no. And most importantly, know that it’s okay to say no.

14.Don’t ever offer to do all of the work for a group project. Even if you think it is the only way it will get done right, or done at all. Your sanity is more important than a good grade on a project. And teachers are smarter than you think; they notice when one person is doing all the work. And if they don’t notice, then don’t be afraid to tell them.

15.You don’t always have to work in groups with your friends. In fact, sometimes it is better not to work with your friends. It’s less distracting, and you are more likely to get things done and less likely to talk about that cute guy in your Biology class.

16.Find out what you’re good at and what you enjoy. Explore your interests. Discover your talents. Find your passions. And don’t do or not do something just because your friends are. Take that science class, even if all your friends are taking music. Don’t stop taking French just because all your friends did. Be your own person, explore all the possibilities, find out what you love and what you’re good at, and pour your heart into it.

17.You will never want to do your homework. Some days even less than others. You’ll always want to take a nap, or read a book, or play a game, or watch Netflix, or go to the mall. And there will be days when you would rather read the dictionary than do your homework. But don’t put it off. Just get it done so you can relax, watch Netflix, sleep, or hang out with your friends. Also, please don’t ever read the dictionary.

18.Sometimes you will need to get away. Get away from your homework, your stress, your parents, your brothers, your house, your friends. Pick up your phone and text one of us. We’ll come get you and buy you some coffee, or ice cream, or milkshakes. We’ll even let you just come over and hang out for a while. Or call grandma. You know she is always up for seeing her grand kids, and plus, she has food, lots of food.

19.High school is nothing like the movies. People don’t suddenly burst out into song and dance in the middle of class or while walking down the hallway. The social strata in your school and the barriers that separate the classes of people are not easily broken. Teachers are not stupid, and hardly any are that lenient. The perfect makeover won’t suddenly make you popular. The dress code is enforced. And being different is, unfortunately, not celebrated. It’s difficult and scary and at times it can feel like the worse thing in the world. But, just like in the movies, you’ll survive it.

20.Prom is not all it’s cracked up to be. Your junior year will come and you’ll want to go to prom. Your senior year will come and you’ll dream of going to ball. But you’ll worry that you’ll be the only one without a date. You’ll wonder if that boy you like will ask you. And someone might ask you, and then you’ll constantly call, text, and send photos of your hair, makeup, and dress to him just to make sure his shirt color perfectly matches your dress. Which you spent hours picking out. You’ll spend money on your ticket, your dress, your accessories, and your hair and makeup. And then you’ll show up to prom. Where you’ll spend hours standing against the wall talking to your friends, waiting for the moment you feel comfortable enough to dance. You’ll want it to be the best night of your life, but it won’t be. It will be fun, but to say it’s the best night of your life would be lying. So don’t worry about having the perfect date, because boys have cooties, and it’s much better to spend the night with your friends anyway. And don’t stress over finding the perfect dress, because you’ll wear it once and then put it in your closet and never touch it again, except to move it out of the way. In fact, you don’t have to go to prom at all. You could stay home and have a Harry Potter movie marathon instead.

21.Eventually, people will start to ask you what you want to do with your life. And it’s okay if you don’t know the answer. It’s okay if you have no idea where you want to go college or what you want to study or what you want to do with the rest of your life. You’re not the only one. You’ll figure it out. Consider what you like to do, explore your interests, investigate the possibilities, and devote yourself to praying about your future. Lean on God and trust Him. And if you do know what you want to do, don’t be too surprised if He suddenly changes your plans. It just means He has something better in mind for you.

22.Read that book for English. Don’t spark note it or ask a friend what happened, or completely skip over it altogether. I know, sometimes they are long and boring and dull. I am an avid reader and have never read a book I didn’t enjoy, or at least appreciate. But, I have seen many great books ruined by countless essays and over analysis. I have read books that I never would have picked up on my own. I have questioned my English teachers’ decisions and opinions about certain books. But, I have never regretted reading them. And it may be because I have an uncontrollable love for literature and a passion for words, but I think it’s more than that. Those books are classics for a reason. And the ones that haven’t been around that long, your teacher chose for a reason. Even if you don’t enjoy the book, you’ll never regret reading it. Because it may be the only book you read that year. Or you may be able to connect to someone or something on a whole different level because of it. Or you may fall in love with the main character, or find your new favorite book. You may be changed as a person or your may be transformed in your way of thinking. And if all else fails, you might be able to use it on your Regents exam or SAT.

23.Always have your headphones and a phone charger. Riding the bus without headphones and some great tunes is like eating an ice cream sundae without sprinkles. It’s possible, sure, but it’s just not right. People will try to talk to you, and you just don’t feel like talking at 6:30 in the morning, and you certainly don’t want to talk at 2:15 in the afternoon after talking to people all day. And how do you expect to do your math homework in study hall without your Pandora stations and Spotify playlists? And nothing is worse than picking up your phone to Snapchat your friends before practice or to call your parents after and realizing your phone is dead. So, headphones and a phone charger. And, of course, some Taylor Swift.

24.Don’t ask your friends how they did on an assignment. In fact, don’t ask anyone. Don’t ask your neighbor, or your friend, or that kid you don’t really like, or that really smart kid, or your brother who did that exact same assignment years ago. Because one of you did better than the other one. And you’re only asking because you want to feel validated. You want to be sure everyone else did as bad as you did, or you need to make sure that you did better than everyone else. And it might work for a short time, but eventually you will find someone who did better than you. And you’ll be left with a feeling of failure or anger or sadness or disappointment. So don’t ask, because in a week from now you won’t remember, and it won’t matter even if you did. If you ever get asked how you did, you can tell them no. And if they won’t take no for an answer, tell them
your grade is equal to the number you got right divided by the total number of questions. Then they’ll leave you alone because you’re annoying, and you totally just told a dad joke.

25.High school is not going to be the best four years of your life. People always say it is, but the truth is, it’s not. And the sooner you realize this, the better these four years will be. Because, the truth is, they will be filled with stress, emotions, lack of sleep, drama, hormones, tests, obligations, pressure, and so many other scary things. But they will also be filled with love, happiness, beauty, laughter, joy, and so many other wonderful things. They will certainly not be the best four years of your life. Sure, there will be unforgettable moments, but there will also be ones you will pray every day you can forget. By the time you graduate, you will have lived on this planet for 18 years, and to claim that these four are the best you will ever have is to say that the next 40, 50, 60, 70, years will be uneventful and boring. And that’s just not true. Because one day you’ll graduate, go to college, get your dream job, marry your best friend, start a family, live in your favorite place on earth, travel the world, reach your dreams, and be unbelievably happy. And you will forget most of what happened to you in these four short years. And that’s okay, because you will have moved on to bigger and better things, and you’ll look back and wonder where the time went. Someday you will have to leave, and you will be happy, sad, and scared all at once. You’ll want to stop time and recede back into the comfort and familiarity of it all. But you can’t. So, live every day with happiness, enjoy every moment, and embrace every new opportunity and adventure with the curiosity and wonder of a child. Chase your dreams, discover who you are, be yourself, make mistakes, take risks, explore, create, and live.

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