As I reflect on almost two years of writing for Fastweb, I’ve written a lot about a variety of school related topics. There are several things I wish I could tell my high-school self (and my college, freshman-self, for that matter). I hope that by reading what I would say now to my past self, in various life phases, you can glean some academic and life advice from my experiences!
Dear Past High-School Self,
I believe in looking back that you worried about a lot of things that were out of your control, like your friends. They will still be there when you graduate, don’t worry! They are an awesome bunch of people that you can rely on so don’t worry when some people fall out of your “group” and others come in; THIS is how you’ll meet some of your best friends!
As for all of that hard work you put in towards your grades, let me tell you, it was worth it! You studied hard, did all of your work, and graduated regardless of that physics class—that you barely understood (Hint: It’s not going to be your future career, so try not to worry too much about the less-than-A grade you achieved). Try not to lose hope as you step away from this chapter of your life, and head toward a new one: college.
Take advantage of those days when you don’t have a lot to do and you are able to step away from the kitchen table. You’re going to miss Mom and Dad (Who would have thought it?) and some of the time you should have spent with them was spent studying or working on papers for too long. Go and sit with them because you will miss this later!
Learn to fail a bit. It’s important! You don’t need perfect grades, although they help your GPA. Don’t worry so much over forgetting a method to solve that calculus problem on the final (Hint: It won’t matter, although you thought that it was a ,i>huge disappointment).
Going back to your friends for a second: take any chance you can get to see them outside of school. Grab some lunch or dinner with them, plan weekend or Friday night adventures to the bowling alley or the local Dairy Queen. You’ll miss them a lot when you go away to college, and you’ll wish that you could have spent more time hanging out with them (Even though you are allergic to their pets…push through it so you can have some more memories of your friends).
You need to hear several other important things in high school…Like spending mornings in the library with friends will be some of your fondest memories. So, don’t waste that time; eating lunch in the library is the best thing you could do (Grabbing new books on my lunch hour to add to my already full backpack...totally worth it!). Enjoy high school instead of plowing through it at breakneck speed taking those honors classes.
Dear Past College-Freshman Self,
Whew, you had a great—maybe a bit stressful—first year. New people, new environment, new material to learn. It was a doozy, that’s for sure. Did you burn some microwave popcorn?
Yes, you did. Did you hate Biology?
Yep, you did. Was it all worth it at the end of your first year?
You’ve gained some wonderful friends, despite your worries that you would only have your roommate and your sister for company—in the middle of nowhere. You’ve figured out that people don’t care about how much you drag to class every day, that Public Speaking is nerve-wracking but manageable, and that your dorm room is too small to function in (Hint: Sometimes the library will be a great resource).
Enjoy the movie nights you have in that weird lounge at the end of your hall. Enjoy the trees and sunlight that ground you when you feel like the only thing you do is study indoors. Try to enjoy the first couple of weeks despite the awkwardness and anxiety you feel. Yes, it’s stressful trying to manage it on your own, but you have the means to get through it. Mom and Dad are only a phone call away, and so is your sister if you need some advice or an ear to listen. Although you won’t know it now, you’ll feel better about your roommate once the summer hits; you’ll realize that some of the issues you thought were big, were actually really small. Deal with those friendly but obnoxious suite mates, together-you and your roommate. Don’t stress too much about perfect grades. B’s are great, even though you feel like this is the end of the world.
You ended up picking your college major. That was a big step in the right direction. You’re still second guessing this choice a year later. But this decision it helps to keep your peace of mind now that you’ve figured it out. Why didn’t you make the decision when you entered college to declare for English? It would have saved you a lot of time! As everyone will tell you, don’t worry too much about your major. It’s not set in stone!
Don’t worry too much about your classes, either—you’ll enjoy some and not enjoy others. It might be the professor, or it might be the content matter. The best thing to do is learn as much as you can, prepare for the tests, and get through the class! On the positive side, you’ll find classmates in each class that you can gravitate towards for help, which will serve as your guide in the long run—you don’t want to do it alone.
You like functioning during daylight hours, and if you stay up late one night—or two—it’ll be fine! Enjoy that extra book chapter, movie night, or hour of studying.
My last bit of advice for past, freshmen year you…Treasure the hugs that come from family and friends! They help reduce stress and they let you know you are loved by people.
What would you say to your past self?
This is just a small portion of the advice I would give to my past self. It’s fantastic to pass this along all of this to you!