It probably seems like, from your parents to your neighbors to random passers-by on the street, someone is always reminding you that you should be enjoying every second…that high school will be the best four years of your life. But if you’re reading this in the school library because you’re avoiding the cafeteria where you have no friends to join, wondering why you haven’t been asked to the homecoming dance, freaking out about SAT scores and dreading work after school at the fast food joint, all while trying to figure out which college you should attend, you probably have your doubts.
Why then, must everyone insist on these four years being regarded as happy times accentuated and adorned with the highest points in life? Is it really all downhill after this? Are you the only one who feels like life cannot possibly be more awkward, stressful, confusing, and emotional? Alas, dear reader, the answer is a resounding no. The problem, you see, is that those adults who remember high school as rainbows and unicorns and think longingly about the experience with stars in their eyes have the benefit of hindsight, a benefit which, as you have probably heard, has 20/20 vision. And while it doesn’t feel that way now, you will probably look back on these four years with awe and amazement too: because you got through it. So, how can you make sure that you’ll graduate with fond memories to tell your grandchildren about? Easy. Give yourself a break.
1. Realize that everyone else is feeling awkward too.
Your peers, though they may seem confident and poised, are probably incredibly awkward kids who are just as skilled at hiding their insecurities as you. Everyone gets out alive, but nobody gets through high school unscathed. Just remember that everyone is fighting their own battle, and the only thing to do is go easy on each other. Don’t take my word for it, have a look.
2. Know that this isn’t actually all going on your ‘permanent record.’
Spend this time wisely. Take your SATs and do your best, but don’t fret if you don’t do as well as you had hoped. Study and get good grades, but if you’re not valedictorian, you’ll be okay. You’ll never be asked to present your SAT scores in a job interview. A few years from now, none of that will matter, but your ability to feel comfortable and confident in your own skin will.
3. Find out who you are and what makes you happy.
Right now, everything that seems vitally important to your success as a human in the future is coming at you with ferocity. Remind yourself every now and then that it’s not all as big of a deal as it seems. Use these four years to explore your options and become a well-rounded citizen, but don’t try to do it all–you can’t. Make time for fun every day and don’t sweat the small stuff. It really is much smaller than it seems.