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Thins I wish I Had Realized in High School

Updated on September 21, 2016

1. High School Does Not Last Forever

I loved seeing my friends every morning. I looked forward to catching up in the halls, inside jokes during classes and the camaraderie that stems from sharing feelings about boys, homework, and dreams. But that was just it...the dreams were somewhere out in the cloudy future and not based on a solid understanding of life int eh "real world."

Graduation itself was off in the hazy future and it seemed as those the familiar monotony would go on forever. When I did start thinking about graduation, I felt deep sadness. Loneliness. All of these people would head off in different directions to chase different goals. Now, it was not for a lack of encouragement from the adults in my life. I had been given a full-ride scholarship to the local community college. I was part of a program that would go on field trips to visit any state college you were interested in. The fault was my own. I did not want to accept that the world I had become familiar with would change.

High School does not last forever,so enjoy by all means the sports games, band concerts, the jokes, the comedies, the bad hair days, but know that there is a future that will come whether you are ready for it or not.

2. Prepare for Life After the Diploma

In middle school we had to write a paper on what we wanted to do with our lives. It was an excellent exercise to get students to think about what they could see themselves doing in society. I can't even remember what career I chose. I did not know where to begin. I felt I did not know enough about jobs to choose a lifestyle from one. What did an office job look like? Was I adventurous to work out in the mountains? Did I want to study other cultures? Was a nine-to-five job the right atmosphere for me?

My advice is this: Any experience you can get is pivotal. Job shadow your parents. Try summer jobs at fast food and retail shoppes. If you hate something, cross it off your list of possibilities. Elimination is progress.What skills do I possess? What environments do I feel most comfortable in? Get out there and try things and talk to people who have done things and narrow it down. The world is a big place and there will be something out there that will be a good fit for you. But it won't likely just come right to you, you have to put in the legwork. You have to do research and seek it out.

If the job is in a career that requires further education, research what colleges that are as close to or as far from home as you want to go, in your budget, (really look at the numbers and decide how long you want to be paying this off, or what financial help is available.) and have a good program for what you want to get into. Tip: Most scholarships out there are for freshman students who have just graduated. The older you get, the more difficult it will be to find help paying for your degree. Then visit it. Familiarize yourself with where you would live, on-campus or off, how far a drive it would be to go home for holidays, what type of environment is it? If you could see yourself here, apply. Do not apply to just one college, though. Research several, rank them according to which ones you want to get into most and prepare to not get accepted into all of them. Tip: If you can begin this process earlier than senior year, your chances are all the greater for finding scholarships, and learning about all your options.

Not only does this set you up for the next step in your career and life goals, but it gives some sunshine to the sadness of leaving all your friends.

3. Give the Gift of Youself

I can be a bit of an introvert. Often, I would enjoy people watching in my classes and analyzing why people acted the way they did. This was excellent for helping me later with my psychology minor, but not so great at getting me to socialize and flex my social muscles in class. With my friends, I let my hair down, but I kept more to myself within a larger group. I wish that back then I would have gotten more involved with a purpose. sure, I was a part of band, choir, figure skating team, I did a few things here and there but nothing that I could really invest in. I was a participant, but I was just along for the ride.

My challenge to my high school self would be to talk to all people, branch out from what I knew and was comfortable with. Learn about different perspectives, develop some ideas about the world and then become a part of them. join the student counsel and make a difference for your peers' high school experience. Have a voice in things. Own your high school years and become comfortable with yourself. Volunteer. Meet new people. Do things out in the community that will make a lasting difference for others. It is so much more meaningful than going home and napping or watching television. Play a role in your life by seizing opportunities and share yourself-your hands, your ears, your lips with the world.

4. Take Care of Yourself

In high school you tend to feel invincible-or close to it. You have energy, health, zeal. One day you will start to wake up sore, you will not have so much energy, your brain will move more slowly. Invest in the care of these things. You have one brain-keep it sharp. Read. Do math. Listen to Mozart. Challenge someone to a game of Scrabble. You only have two knees. They support your body so take care of them. Wear good shoes. Tennis shoes with good support, not clogs or flip-flops or those slipper boots that have no support in them whatsoever.

Wear a winter coat. And a hat. cover your body in clothing that keeps you comfortably warm. Eat vegetables and drink water. Stay healthy and give your body every fighting chance to avoid sicknesses that will weaken it.

Don't read in dim light. Your eyes are a bigger asset than you realize. Unless you want glasses, or to mess with contacts or to be told ten years down the road that your eyes are failing you...invest in those polarized sunglasses and cherish the lenses you have to see the w

5. Read to Travel and Travel to Read

Everyone is born with a certain level of smarts. You can't change your genes, but you can change your smarts. There is a type of intelligence that grows through reading and travel.

Read stories. Read the classics. Discover places you want to see. The grand Canyon. The Redwood Trees. Learn about some really cool places and then go there. While you are young and single with few responsibilities, go take a look at this amazing, awesome planet we live on. Look at how other people do things, how they eat, how they dress, why they behave the way they do. Not only will this make you a smarter and more interesting person, you will have endless experiences to talk about when you meet people.

6. Cherish History

Future self: you end up marrying a History buff/teacher and he will teach you about the incredible significance of history. Stop falling asleep in History class, even if it is first hour. Move closer than the back row and listen.

You live in a country that did not always behave the way it does. It has taken decades of people trying new things, failing, and succeeding to get you to where you live now. Know why this country functions the way it does rather than in a different manner. Know that that could change and you may not always have the freedoms and the rights you now have. Go to old places that have a rich history to them. Believe that you are a part of something that is bigger than yourself. Listen to the stories about people that may or may not have been related to you. Learn the ways that fought to survive harsh winters without the modern devices and knowledge we have now. Learn gratitude for things that make our lives more pleasant so we can continue to push the envelope and cultivate our world.

Visit old well-made buildings with unique architecture that someone spent their lifetime working on. Look at a world that is vastly larger than you. Learn why we cannot repeat some of our previous mistakes. Learn at what it would cost us if we did.Learn that your ancestry is important. You are not a single individual. You are somebody's daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter. Somebody came to America to give you a better life before you were even a semblance of existing. Learn to live for more than just you. Live to make them proud. Make them glad for what sacrifices they made.

7. Offer Respect

Everyone brings something to the table, even if its just their presence at a desk. Why not offer something more than a sleepy face? Offer some respect. What do I mean?

Get dressed. Don't show up in pajamas. Don't wear slippers. Don't wear sweatpants. Your teachers show up as professionals for YOU. Well-fitting clothes, appropriate to the weather. Modest. Out of respect. Other people have to look at you. Portray that you are here to learn, you are capable and prepared to excel. You will not be able to show up to your job in a baggy t-shirt, practice now. You are the future of America. You are the next generation of employees citizens. Just by having been born you REPRESENT your family name, your school, your church, your country, anything you are apart of. People look to you to see how you define the groups you are a part of. Make them look good.

Getting dressed shows that you care enough about where you are, what you are doing,m and who you're with to want to look presentable. You would not show up to a job interview and expect to get a job looking like a slob, you would want to impress. Show respect.

8. Listen and Ask.

At no other time in your life will you have the plethora of resources you now have. Not just the school, library, teachers, peers, but you have family members that may not be around forever. Ask them questions. Not just about academics. Ask about sewing on a button, cooking a meal, changing a flat tire. Learn from people who have done life, how to do life. Or you could just stumble along trying things your own way until you get it right. The first way will go much better for you. While your relatives are around find out about your great-uncle, life on the farm, and family traditions. This is YOUR story. Now is the best time to learn about why you do the things you do.

9. Plan to Attend Your Reunion

Or plan your reunion. High school is a wonderful time in one's life, but greater still i seeing all those friends you were saddened to leave so many ears ago. Look again into the lives of the people you influenced, shared inside jokes with, and ate lunch with five days a week. Invest in these people. These could be lifelong friendships you created here. Friends are support adn support makes life worth living.

10. Don't slack off

Give it everything you have: your wit, your cleverness, your love for words, your laughter. Don't be afraid to fail. Often, you will learn more through failure and you will see where you really measure up. Learn to use failure to show you what you need to improve. Then improve upon what you have already done. Homework is important. Reading assignments are important. Tests are important. Make your work something you want to be proud of. Start now building a legacy of how you want people to remember you. Seize every golden opportunity (and some that make you uncomfortable.) Never ever give up. And if, in the end, you find yourself years past high school, wishing you had done these things. Wishing you had saved for a house instead of buying clothes. Wishing you had taken those spontaneous trips with friends. It is not too late. Keep learning. Assess your growth. Seize the opportunities. Plan for the future. Be respectful, read and travel, get involved, listen and ask questions, attend your reunions, or non-reunions, un-birthday parties and whatever else comes up.Make lifelong friends and pro-actively chase down your dreams. Mostly, live in such a way so that when you look back you smile with pride and when you look forward, you beam with joy.

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