It’s finally here. The day we’ve all been anticipating. After 13 years of earsplitting alarm clocks, uncomfortable desks and chairs, repulsive cafeteria lunches, looming finals and exams, missing mechanical pencils and invigorating group projects – it’s time for graduation.
Before you get caught up in the whirlwind of excitement and nervousness surrounding the big day, it’s good to take some time and reflect on the past four years of your life. After you walk across that stage in June, everything is going to change. Nothing will ever be the same… and that’s terrifying. A good reflection of high school ought to do you good. You’ll be reminded of how you got here, what you learned, and what experiences were most meaningful to you.
As another fellow graduating senior, here’s what these past four years of high school have taught me. Hopefully you can relate to some of these or be reminded of something else that’ll cause a smile or grimace to cross your face.
High school is what you make it.
Kind of stating the obvious, right? But if you really take those seven words to heart, they can really change your perspective on high school (or whatever stage of education you’re in).
Growing up, I’ve heard adults say, “High school was the best
four years of my life!” Because of that, I expected to have a blast when I entered freshman year. However, I didn’t realize high school was the best four years of their lives because they made
it the best years of their lives. I didn’t realize that if I also wanted to have the best four years of my life, I needed to do things I actually enjoyed doing.
Even right now, all my classes are extremely rigorous, time consuming, somewhat distasteful and just all around stressful. I definitely haven’t been having the best time of my life these past four years. But I also know people who are in every extracurricular in existence, who are also taking amazing and interactive classes – they seem to be really enjoying their high school experience. While I don’t regret taking the classes I’m taking, I do wish I could have had the chance to make more meaningful memories rather than make more flashcards for my next chemistry test.
So if you want to make high school the best four years of your life, do the things that you enjoy. But if you’re like me and also want to have a good academic standing, then unfortunately, those enjoyable activities may have to be put aside. That’s why finding a balance is an important skill to master.
You are who you hang out with.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gone into the bathroom and spotted a couple kids cutting class in the stalls. I also can’t recall how many times I’ve seen a pickup truck full of football players screeching against the pavement as they blasted out of the parking lot the second school ended. In other words, high schoolers are more inclined to do things if their friends are also doing it. This isn’t meant to put a bad reputation on doing things with friends. Why else are study groups so common in preparation for finals?
If high school has taught me something, it’s that our friends and the people we surround ourselves with have a tremendous influence on our own beliefs and actions. It is absolutely imperative, then, that we exercise extreme caution with the people we allow to enter our lives. I’m proud to say the friend group I’ve been with throughout my high school experience has been one that has taught me great skills, encouraged me to learn from my mistakes, and been perceptive to my flaws.
Unfortunately, I also know many who have fallen victim to the negative side of peer pressure – herd mentality – whatever you want to call it. I’ve seen grades drop, relationships tear apart – all in the span of a couple of months. It’s crazy how quickly you can be assimilated into a group and how your lifestyle reflects that.
Having like-minded individuals around you is a major component in a great high school experience. This, of course, entails great risk. Ultimately, it’s all a matter of staying true to what you believe personally and following your moral compass, even in the foggiest conditions.
Procrastination trumps preparation…sometimes.
It’s an all too familiar scene. You’re hunched over your notes, knuckles white and shaky from too much Red Bull, eyeballs rereading the words over and over, with the hopes that your brain will retain enough information to regurgitate out tomorrow and get a passing grade on that final your teacher had been reminding you about since Day One. This can either end in one of two ways – you pass out from pure exhaustion and wake up to the sun’s morning rays gleaming beams of disappointment on your face, or you manage to cram everything into your mind before passing out, only to wake up and realize you’ve forgotten pretty much everything except some useless fact that won’t even help you on the extra credit question. Procrastination at its finest.
There’s no need to feel ashamed for your ways. Everyone procrastinates. It’s basically a social norm to wait until the last minute to do something you’ve had weeks or even months to complete. So is it possible for a student to succeed despite their egregious work ethic? What I’ve learned is that yes, it’s okay to procrastinate every now and then – okay, pretty much all the time. It just depends on how you procrastinate.
First and foremost, if you’re going to procrastinate, you better be doing something worthwhile. If not, then you probably deserve the consequences! When I was supposed to be studying for the ACT, I put off all my studying and instead worked on my latest story. Even though I regretted my lack of preparation on test day, I still had some comfort in knowing I was using my abilities in a different outlet, with different benefits. But this is in no way discouraging you from studying!
Secondly, if you’re going to procrastinate, you need to let yourself know you’re going to have to get to work eventually. You need to gradually ease yourself into a hustling mode. This could be leaving your homework on top of your phone, so when you reach over for it in the morning, you’ll get a handful of science homework rather than your Snapchat notifications. While you may not be motivated to get to work right away, you’ll be reminded that you need to. Eventually, you need to face the reality that you can’t slack forever. The sting is less harsh when you take baby steps to get there.
Procrastination is looked lowly upon, but if done correctly, it can actually be more effective than preparing ahead of time. Some people work better under pressure, after all.
The last important lesson high school taught me is that…
…You are your greatest ally.
No matter how many friends you have, at the end of the day, there’s only one person who really knows the real you: and that’s you, dear Fastweb reader. Many people think that being alone and introverted is an abnormal behavior, but it’s actually one of the greatest assets you can achieve. If you can be alone and introverted and enjoy some quality time with yourself, if you can learn to befriend who you are and learn to love yourself for your faults, then you’re already ahead of most people in life. It’s in your best interest to become your own best friend, because only then can you really improve and become a better person.
Had I known this at the beginning of freshman year, my high school experience would have been completely different. I wouldn’t have been as intimidated of all the new challenges. I would’ve been more excited for the variety of opportunities. I wouldn’t have been so harsh on myself. I would’ve been more willing to learn.
With that being said, high school teaches you a lot of things – academically, emotionally, socially and realistically. If you’re graduating in these next few months, take some time to reflect on what you’ve learned. You’d be surprised at what lessons you’ll keep coming back to in your future endeavors.