Advice for the High School Me

High school: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Most people agree it was one or the other. If I could Marty McFly this, if I could go back in time, here are a few things I might tell my High School Self and others:

  • If you know the answer, raise your hand. It’s cool to be smart.
  • We become like the people we spend the most time with. Choose your friends wisely.
  • Stop obsessing over your pimple, everyone is too worried about their own to notice yours.
  • Slow down, enjoy your youth. Adulthood will come and it’s overrated.
  • Get organized. Where possible, get ahead of assignments. The last minute is when other things may come up. (I.e., teachers don’t always know, or care, what other teachers have also assigned.)
  • Be selective in who you confide in. NOTHING remains a secret in high school.
  • Be the friend you’d like to have.
  • Avoid choosing one clique—mix it up. Life is more interesting with a variety of friends, and that way you will always have someone to sit with.
  • Never peak in high school. This is just a chapter in your life, it will end and a new one will begin. Believe me, no one at the office or neighborhood bar-b-que will even care if you were President of the Glee Club.
  • You will outgrow some friendships. That’s okay. It’s hard, but you’re making room for new ones.
  • EVERYONE is WEIRD, and we all think we’re normal.
  • Spend more time with your family, even if they annoy you. You will miss them later and wish that you had.
  • Believe it or not, your parents DO remember high school, and they will understand. Talk to them.
  • Ease up on the make-up and NEVER “try something new” with your hair on picture day. Trust me on this one, it was the 80’s; it wasn’t pretty.
  • Don’t trust friends who trash others. If they can trash others, you can be sure they can trash you.
  • Be true to yourself. The opinions of others do not define you, it’s your words and actions that do. It’s called character.
  • Keep a positive attitude. People like to be around positive people. If you don’t think your group has a Debbie Downer, it could be you.
  • Blaze your own trail. Protect your integrity. That means doing what is right because it is right, not because it’s popular. As hard as this may sometimes be, you will earn the trust and respect of others.
  • Smile more. You never know when a smile or kind word from you could make all the difference to someone. Years later they will thank you; it has happened to me more than once.
  • Never give in to peer pressure. Seriously, what do they know, anyway? Trust your instincts, you will be held accountable for your own judgment.
  • Treat others with respect and compassion, not judgment. We never truly know what another person may be going through.
  • Your body, your choice! It’s worth protecting.
  • If you don’t understand an assignment or are worried about your class progress, don’t be afraid to talk to your teacher. That’s what they are there for.
  • You know that boy who won’t notice you? The one with great hair? In a few years, you won’t care. And a few more? He may not even have hair!
  • Homework half done? Turn it in! It is better to get partial credit than no credit at all.
  • Lighten up. There is life after high school. And it’s even better.
  • Be kind to the nerds. They will become your boss.
  • Beauty on the inside ALWAYS shows on the outside. Likewise, UGLY on the inside will eventually show on the outside.
  • Take a breath and think before you speak. Some thoughts are better kept to yourself.
  • Set and protect your boundaries. You teach others how to treat you.
  • Be kind yourself, you are exactly as you should be.
  • And remember, if all else fails, this, too, shall pass.

Bonus round for today’s high schooler:

  • Posts, Tweets, and Instagrams are neither secure nor temporary. Be careful what you share.
  • Speak up when your friends want to text or drink and drive. They may not like it, but you could be saving lives.
  • Life is not Facebook—friends should be valued for their quality, not quantity.