As a teenager, you get a lot of things shouted at you from all different directions and it's often overwhelming. I've learned a lot over the last few years of high school and often find myself wishing so badly to be able to go back in time and talk to 14-year-old me. Here are some things I wish someone would have informed me in my naive, dreamer girl days.
1. High school is never like it is in the movies.
While we may already know this, it's hard not to map out your last four years of education as something based straight out of a Disney flick. Having a Troy Bolton of my own probably crossed my imagination when I was younger. As a freshman, everything is so new and you're dealing with the constant feeling of apathy all while caring way too much. It's a delicate balance that I think only teenagers alone ever understand fully. To put things in more cynical terms: lower your expectations. Don't expect your knight in shining armor to pick you up for a magical time at the school dance. Don't map out a crazy romance soiree that belongs in a Nicholas Sparks novel. Expect change, but don't try so hard to fantasize it. Romanticizing things will only lead you on a deluded pathway to empty cartons of ice cream.
2. Make friends with your teachers.
I regret any major attitude I had in the beginning of high school because it definitely tampers with the relationships you have with your teachers. Not all of them will be fair, or even tolerable, and while that may inspire you to want to take your first dignified stand against today's education system, it won't prevent you from failing. At certain times it is going to matter whether you get that extra two percent, and if you're not on good terms with your instructor, that number probably won't budge. Respect your teachers and pay attention in class because no, you're not "too cool for school." Personally, that kid who drags everyone down with their reluctance isn't someone I'm going to remember fondly after I graduate. In fact, I probably won't remember him or her at all. Don't waste your energy on trying to seem above your assignments because it'll just come back to bite you. Plus, who do you think is in charge of writing your recommendation letters for college? Exactly. In general, you want to be nice to all of your peers as well. Trust me, there will be times when it'll seem impossible but think of a few years when you graduate; do you really want to leave knowing you're entitled to more apologies than goodbyes?
3. Be the kind of friend you would want.
You're going to meet people who are dealing with all kinds of problems. Things like eating disorders and mental illnesses are rampant in today's youth and while you may not want to believe it, chances are you'll get to know someone who suffers from one. In times like this, you have to be that friend that's going to pick up the phone at 3 a.m. when someone needs to talk. Maybe you'll be the one experiencing these things, and in that case, what would you want your friend to do for you? Sometimes you won't feel like being there, maybe you'll be too tired to listen, but it'll be worth it in the end if you really just make yourself reliable. These people you call your friends are going to be the very ones who are going to get you through your toughest times in high school.
4. Do not wallow in self-pity.
As humans, we're naturally self-centered creatures. We want to focus on all that we've done right, and, unfortunately, all that we've done wrong. Of course, feeling sorry for yourself is okay, it's even healthy! But when you're the person who's always complaining about yourself and your life and questioning all the bad things that happen to you, no one is going to want to talk to you. Nobody is going to feel sorry for you. Wallowing in self-pity is gross and only makes you feel worse in the long run. You are amazing and talented and have all the right to own those moments that make you smile, so focus on that. No one is going to feel like running to dry you with a towel when you're the one pouring water on yourself.
5. You are beautiful, intelligent, and worth it.
It's cliche, it's all over inspirational magazines and, when overused, it's even cringe worthy. But it's true! Most teenagers experience a very common thing called low self-esteem. You're surrounded by hundreds of other people who are even better at the things you thought you were best at. While it took you forty minutes to do your hair this morning, she just rolled out of bed looking like the cover of Vogue. This afternoon you just hit your personal best in sports and you feel great, that is, until that guy over there zips past you on his first try doubling your standards. Stop comparing yourself. You're not stupid because you failed a history test. Memorizing dates isn't my forte either. Don't beat yourself up because you don't look like someone because, in reality, you never will. You are yourself and that's all you ever will be. It's both mentally and physically exhausting to hate yourself and stand in the mirror picking out everything you want to change. Think of yourself at your proudest moments and then pat yourself on the shoulder because that is exactly who you are. If you have countless problems with yourself, do something about it. You're the only one who picks yourself up after a long day to keep going, even when you simply feel like sleeping through it all. That's a pretty impressive feat, and don't let yourself be convinced otherwise.