This year marks my 25 year high school reunion. For some reason, I have thought more about my high school experience this year than I have in previous years. I appreciate how the choices I’ve made throughout my life have shaped me into the person I am today but as I think about the person I was in high school, I realize there are somethings I could have done differently. I didn’t participate, I didn’t take things seriously, and I honestly don’t have many memories about it. Given the opportunity, I don’t think I’d go back and change anything but it would be interesting to see how things would have turned out had I made some different choices. Regardless, I’d like to share some advice with my high school self:
Dear High School Self,
You only get to go to high school once so it is important to take full advantage of the experience. One day you will look back at yourself through a different lens and reflect on how your decisions and actions impacted where you stand today. High school can be difficult. Take my advice, make it better, make it matter, make it something worth remembering…
Get involved in SOMETHING at school. Join a club or sport, volunteer, do something outside of the classroom. These are opportunities to make friendships and connections that you wouldn’t have otherwise made.
Go to a football game. In fact, go to ANY game.
Attend a pep rally. Experience the excitement and camaraderie–become part of the school–that sense of pride is important.
Go to prom…or any dance. By yourself, with a group, with a date, with your best friend. Get dressed up, be yourself, and don’t worry about what others think. You do YOU!
Find out who your counselor is and meet with them regularly. Consult with them about your classes and your future. Don’t wait for them to find you.
Visit a college and know that you CAN make it there. Don’t listen to anyone that tells you should settle for something that is not your passion. If you want to go, it is attainable. Explore financial aid and scholarship options, don’t just assume you can’t afford it.
Stop trying to be “cool.” Stop trying to prove yourself to others. Not everyone is as worried about you as you are and you would probably be “cooler” if you were just yourself.
Don’t be desperate. You will have many opportunities in the future, don’t cling to the first guy that shows you some attention.
Get to know some of your teachers. They are there to help you….ask for help, meet with them and find at least one that you can go to for advice. Remember their names and stay connected. Someday you will want to reach out to say thank you.
Eat better. A frosted cookie and soda are not a lunch. You’ll be a better student if you are better nourished.
Take the ACT (or SAT) seriously. You will score better if you don’t have a hangover and those scores DO matter if you want to go to college.
Go to graduation! If not for yourself, do it for your parents.
It’s okay if you don’t know what you want to be. But don’t sell yourself short, be something until you figure out something different.
My most important piece of advice….realize that you are worth something, you are important, you have potential, you can do amazing things, people care about you and want you to succeed. To anyone that doubts you….prove them wrong. Have a plan and try to make it happen. If it doesn’t work, at least you’ll have tried. You don’t want to look back 25 years later, wondering why you wasted so much time.
This list isn’t complete. There are more things I could tell you but I don’t want embarrass or disappoint your mother. Maybe someday but for now, hear me loud and clear….YOU WILL DO BIG THINGS!
Your Adult Self