1) Don’t save things for last minute.
As a pro-procrastinator, this was one hard lesson for me to learn. I was someone who took “join everything” to heart, and that’s kinda what I did… or tried to do. I was also an ambitious student, so I signed up for those AP classes with heavy homework load. I stretched myself really thin my freshman and sophomore year, and if there’s anything I learned- it would be to get things done ASAP. Especially with so much going on, it’s so easy to let things slide to “tomorrow”, but after a few “tomorrows”, the to-do list piles up very quickly. It gets super duper scary when there’s so much to do and so little time to do it. I’ve always just sacrificed sleep to try to make time for it all, but that’s definitely not the way to go. As a programmer on my robotics team who has had to stay up till 3:00 or later the night before the tournament to get autonomous working, I’ve learned that there’s just not enough “tomorrows". I know it’s wayyyyyyy easier to just rationalize with yourself and procrastinate, but trust me, you will thank yourself later when you aren’t scrambling at 3:00 in the morning. My APUSH teacher told our class “if you don’t do your homework, you’re one step away from the college of your dreams”.
2) Don’t be afraid to experiment.
High school is forgiving. Hear me out on this, despite how the movies make it, high school is not the end-all-be-all by any means. It’s just four short years of your life in the scheme of like 80 years. I know that drama can hurt, and high school students can be mean, but high school is 1000000000X more forgiving than the real world. It’s better to experiment and try new things in high school than when you’re out in the real world. For example, if you wanted to dye your hair, but you weren’t sure how it would go, or if the color would even look good on you, try it in high school. Every new school year is basically a fresh start and everything in the past years have been washed away with summer break. Try experimenting with different clubs and activities- you’ll never know what you’ll find till you try. Try experimenting with different social situations- maybe try making small talk with an upperclassman. Whatever you want to try, now is the time.
3) Be kind to everyone you meet.
Do yourself a favor and please please please be nice to everyone. Unless you know their whole life story, please be careful to judge. I know it’s human nature to judge, but please be careful about voicing these judgments. Everyone is fighting a different battle. Everyone is so different, with different personalities, values, and experiences, that it’s hard for everyone to see eye to eye on everything. Just understand that different people have different ways of handing situations, so acceptance or friendly debate is better than harsh judgment. It’s super cliché, but it’s so true when people say even a smile can brighten someone's day. The least you could do is at least smile and say hi to someone in the halls. A wise person once told me “life is fair because it’s unfair to everyone.”
4) Your passion is all that matters.
In the long run, trying to juggle like 8 different activities and sacrificing time and sleep for it is just not worth it. There should only be one or two activities that matter. And those are the ones that get you into your college program. There’s a huge myth about being the “well rounded” student, so a lot of people at my high school think they need to be in a ton of clubs. One of my friends who ended up getting accepted to Yale (yes, that Yale) told me the opposite. She only did one activity her high school career, and she got accepted into Yale. She said that you only need to fully commit to one activity that makes you feel passionate, than to commit to so many that waste your time. Think about it, in the long run, will all these extra clubs help you, or are they wasting your time that could be spent on that most important one? You only really need one or two degrees to find a job, and the farther you go in college, you’re mostly focusing on those core classes that is your major, so why waste all this time now on those extra clubs? If they’re fun, and is an escape from the hard classes and hard stress of life, then by all means you can keep it, but trying to balance having eight or nine different clubs is creating tedious work for yourself. In the long run, the only thing that matters is your passion.
5)Enjoy it while it lasts.
High school is very short, and that’s very bittersweet. The four years, though at points seem never ending, flies by. In a blink of an eye, you’re tossing your graduation cap into the air and kissing high school goodbye. I’m sure you’ve at least once in your life heard adults say “I wish I was back in high school” or “High school was so much fun”, so instead of being one of those adults who regret not enjoying high school…. Enjoy it while it lasts! There will definitely be ups and downs, but a day passes whether you’re sad or happy, so why not be happy and enjoy it?
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