5 Things I Wish I Knew in High School

Oh, adolescence. So easy, comforting and devoid of awkwardness. #SaidNoOneEver

The consensus that high school is always full of fun, friends and forever-in-our-hearts memories exists for a select few. For the rest of us, there are ups and there are downs, mistakes and mishaps. We learn in the classroom (to this day, I have never used Calculus in the 'real world'), but mostly, it's the things we pick up outside of hallways, at football games and, if you're any bit as nerdy as I am, literary magazine club meetings, that stick with us.

Despite my strict inability to memorize the vocabulary words assigned weekly in Spanish class, I somehow managed to effortlessly recall every lyric to the most obnoxious top 40 hits of my youth. With that said, there are more important things I wish I knew before I left the world of cafeterias, pep rallies and advanced placement classes:

1. Your Yearbook Presence Does Not Define You
Did your hair look like Mufasa from The Lion King ('80s ladies)? or perhaps you decided to dye it bleach blonde, like Eminem or Pamela Anderson? (I'm looking at you, millennium and '90s grads.) Maybe you even sported patchy facial hair in attempt to grow a full beard. If so, that's OK. In fact, I can appreciate the symbolism. Hair grows out -- it changes styles, as will you once you are years removed from graduation and your peers. Maybe you are a Playboy bombshell, a Cacausian rapper from Detroit or an animated jungle creature -- but probably not. Thankfully, you can change your image, your attitude and everything else (and you will), because you're young. That's what happens.

Furthermore, from a personal standpoint, as the Editor In Chief of my high school's Yearbook, I would like to utilize this space to formally apologize for the typos or misspellings found in between the pages. That's right -- I make living as a writer, and I too, have embarrassed myself in the Yearbook. Are my editing skills perfect? It's debatable. Is my hair? Probably not. There's always room for improvement... but I'd say both have evolved since.

2. The World is Not Coming to an End Because You Say It Is
If I remember correctly, I never uttered such words during the four years between middle school and college. My parents, however, might slightly disagree. Yes, sometimes you will run into roadblocks. I still have days, hours and moments where I feel out of control and helpless. Unfortunately, there will be more embarrassing and uncomfortable episodes to come. Fortunately, you will learn that there are things far worse than not getting gifted a car upon passing a driver's test. I am living proof. It's tough, but you will survive.

Other fun phrases of equal value:
  • AP Art History is ruining my life
  • I'm going to die if [insert absurd request here] happens! (Ex: Urbanears stops selling coral-colored headphones)
  • I'm quitting high school, because the boy I like is going to homecoming with her (I would actually love to know if this coping method ever worked out well for anyone, ever.)
3. SAT Scores May Determine Your Immediate Future, but Certainly Not Your Potential
Some people (yours truly) are terrible test takers. Obviously, standardized tests do not measure athleticism, charisma, creativity or juggling skills. You are not a number. Getting a perfect score does not guarantee a life of health, happiness, wealth or tightrope skills. Alternatively, it's important to try, because fire breathing and circus life isn't for everyone. So, study. Learn those obnoxious words you'll never utter in casual conversations and develop methods for maneuvering math madness. Instead of stressing over scores, realize that the bubbles you fill on your scantron are not who you are, but simply a reflection of 4-plus hours on an early, early Saturday morning after months of preparation (which is just as scary as a car full of clowns).

4. If At First You Are Rejected, There's Always the Second Half
College acceptance is the goal for many high school graduates, but we can't all go to the same place for undergrad (there are simply not enough desks. Also, not everyone can pull off certain schools' set colors), never mind surviving an institution without a football program. Maybe you like The University of Amazingness more than their admissions people liked you; it doesn't mean you're any less awesome or incapable of succeeding there. Sometimes, it just isn't a fit at that moment in time. Rejection happens, and it's heartbreaking. But, as stated in lesson 2, the world will not end. In fact, most four-year universities accept transfer students like me. Is this a coveted secret? No. Did I think this was an option for moi in high school? Not really. But I did it, and if you still think your first choice school is the best option (or you'd be happier somewhere else), you have the choice make moves.

5. All of the Above
One thing I did know (when I was in high school) is that it would all be over one day. I knew that I would attend college, continue sucking at math and ultimately move to New York, where I would consistently ponder why people subject big dogs to small apartments. I knew that the four years following high school graduation would bring change and growth, and the following four years would be completely different as well (read: Vita Liberata tanning rather than sunbathing in South Florida... thank you, Northeast winters).

The best part of high school (for me) is looking back on it and realizing how much I've learned since and how much knowledge there is still to absorb in the world... without using a calculator, protractor or a No. 2 pencil. There are things I wish I had known in college, too. Like how to actually study in the library without the distraction of Facebook. Today, I'm still figuring out my strengths and weaknesses (and how to avoid social media A.D.D). It's a real-life, on-going science experiment of trial and error, without a bell curve.