A new chapter begins. High school. I know you are feeling a mix of nervousness and excitement. High school is the only thing that stands between you and true independence. These next four years are going to be a period of rapid growth, change, memory-making, trial and error. You will sift through all of the noise and pick out the pieces of who you are, and who you will become begins to really take shape.
Adulthood is coming at you fast and you are caught in the middle of the safety of a home base and the lure of freedom and independence. As you move into this new phase, here is some wisdom for you to pack into the backpack of who you are and take along with you.
1. You know who you are. When someone tells untruths about you, stand strong in who you know yourself to be. The people who really know you, know, and the rest don’t really matter.
2. Make everyone feel seen. Every human deserves respect. Don’t make anyone feel invisible or as if they don’t matter. Go out of your way to look for the invisible ones. Acknowledge them. Smile. Say hi. Ask them a question. Invite them to sit with you. Something so easy and simple for you can truly change someone’s entire life.
3. When making decisions, always listen to your intuition. If it feels icky, it’s not in alignment with who you are.
4. You will make mistakes. When you do, don’t waste them. Take them and grow and use them to make a different choice next time.
5. The way you look on the outside feels so big and important right now. Your clothes, your skin, your hair, your size. Eventually, it will be one of the least important things about you. Take care of your body and take pride in your appearance, but don’t waste too much energy on it. We all age, and I can promise you the best-looking dude in high school will soon just be a beer-bellied, balding middle-aged dad. What will matter most at your 15-year reunion is how you treated people.
6. When someone is cruel, it almost always comes from insecurity and pain. That doesn’t excuse meanness, but it is a reminder that when someone is mean, it’s almost never about you.
7. No one’s acceptance of you is worth being someone you’re not. If you have to step outside of your values to be accepted, you’re betraying yourself. No one is worth giving up who you are.
8. Your words are powerful and can affect someone (good or bad) for a lifetime. Choose your words thoughtfully.
9. Always try to add good everywhere you go. Give out compliments, be helpful, use your manners, smile at someone. The world has enough bad and there’s not much you can do about that, but you do have the power to make your corner of the world a little brighter.
10. Someone will always be smarter, stronger, better looking, richer, and more talented than you. You can’t control that. But you can be the person in the room who is the kindest, most authentic, and hardest working.
11. When you find yourself feeling jealous of someone else, look a little deeper. What is it, at the core, that they have that you envy? Use that as motivation and fuel to move you closer to what it is that you want.
12. Choose people who bring out the best version of you. The people you choose to surround yourself with have a huge impact on your choices and your experiences. You are not required to have a relationship with anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself, puts you in uncomfortable situations, invalidates you, or hurts you.
13. Be willing to listen to the adults in your life. I know you think we just “don’t get it,” but we do. We have life experiences that you don’t have yet, and our goal is to try to protect you from making the mistakes we made. You don’t have to agree with or buy into everything we say, but be open to at least be curious enough to hear us, and we will try to do the same for you.
14. Don’t let fear keep you from pursuing something new. Do the things you’re a little scared to do. That’s where the growth happens.
15. Even though it might not feel like it, these are some of your freest years. You have room to experiment, make mistakes, and try new things with the buffer of home and your parents’ guidance. Use these carefree years to find out who you are and make lots of memories.
16. You don’t have to have your whole life figured out right now. You’re still developing who you are. Most adults don’t even have it all figured out.
17. It’s okay to change your mind and your opinions. It’s okay to question what you have been taught. You’re still developing into the person you will become. Part of growth is challenging your own thoughts and beliefs.
18. Nothing lasts forever. Heartbreak is so raw during this time in your life. You probably haven’t walked through many truly painful experiences, so your love is wide open and you hurt as big as you cared. No matter how much something hurts or how bad it feels, it won’t feel this way forever. Life ebbs and flows. You aren’t stuck in hurt forever. Move through it the best you can. You have so much love and life ahead of you.
19. You haven’t lived the best days of your life yet. You still have so many people to meet. You probably haven’t had the happiest day of your life or even the saddest day. You have so many people yet to know, so many places to see, so many memories left to make. Your world will expand and the life ahead is just waiting for you.
20. Spend time with your family. I know you’d rather hang out with your friends or in your room with your AirPods in, but these four years pass by in a heartbeat. These are the last four years you will have at home the way you have it now. You will always be able to come back home, but it won’t exist the way it does now.
21. You are enough. You are worthy and loved just the way you are, just because you are you.