Inspired by Therese Borchard’s 11 Things I Learned in High School, I wanted to share a few things I learned from my own high school experiences. I had many good times while in school, as well as my share of bad. But so many of the learning experiences we have in high school really can stick with us for years to come, teaching us about the ways of the world, life, friends and relationships.
1. Believe in your own abilities.
So many times, we’re led to believe we’re not as good as we should or could be. And yet each and every one of us has unique abilities, talent and skills. No matter what others might tell you, believe in your own abilities, even when you feel unsure of yourself.
2. Things aren’t as bad as they seem.
Things often seem worse than you’ve ever felt in your life. But hindsight inevitably shows us that even when we were feeling at our lowest, life wasn’t nearly as bad as we had imagined. Those painful feelings led to new insights, appreciations, or if nothing else, experience in how to handle a situation better in the future.
3. Good friends can last forever.
We make a lot of friends over our lifetime, but good friends can really withstand the test of time. A good friend forgives, and you forgive them. A good friend respects, appreciates, and returns the favor. And a good friendship is a balance between giving and taking (just like any relationship).
4. Know what you’re good at.
Although related to #1, knowing what you’re good at is often a trial and error process throughout your entire life. If you don’t try, however, you’ll never know. Try things out, even if you’re not certain about what you’re good at, and figure out things where you seem to have a knack in doing them. Such knowledge reflects the ancient wisdom of “Know thyself.” Because if you know yourself, others’ negativity will never have the same power to hurt.
5. Enjoy the good times, every time, starting right now.
We can get so swept up in life, deadlines, tests and reports that we sometimes worry ourselves out of enjoying the life we’re living, so focused are we on the life we want to be living sometime down the road. The reality is, though, that this, right here, right now is your life. It’s not just about stopping to smell some flowers, but to start living in the moment as much as you can. Get out of the thinking trap, “I’ll enjoy this a year from now,” or “I’ll have time to do that later.” No, you won’t. Do it now.
6. Take responsibility seriously.
I watched a news program last night about Taylor Swift, who started to become a superstar singer when she was around 17. At 19, she’s a multi-millionaire and takes her responsibilities seriously, because if she doesn’t, nobody will take her seriously (“I have to take orders from a teen?!”). She does everything — writes the songs, sings and performs them, designs her own stage, and ensures she has input on every decision related to her young career (all the while still having fun). You’re probably not a multi-millionaire, but that doesn’t mean other people’s impressions won’t be influenced by your own attitude toward your responsibilities. Act responsibly and people will respect you. Act irresponsibly, and people will dismiss you.
7. But don’t take yourself too seriously.
It’s easy to take oneself too seriously and actually believe half the stuff you tell yourself. Don’t. Life is too short to be too serious, and not to take time out and enjoy yourself and have fun. There’s a balance to be reached, but it’s a balance you can achieve if you keep it in mind.
8. Nobody likes someone who’s selfish.
Selfish people may get their way sometimes, but they are inevitably never happy. The more selfish you are, the less happy you’re likely to be. That doesn’t mean forget to take care of yourself, but you should learn the power of giving without ever expecting anything in return. Be thankful for what you have, not what you don’t.
9. Nurture your own personal weirdness.
High school often teaches us to try and be like others, to try and fit in, and society reinforces the message subtly (and not so subtly) with its marketing and advertising to teens. Just don’t lose your own unique identity and personal weirdness in your efforts to be like everyone else. But also don’t let such weirdness become your sole identity. Individuality is good, but too much of any good thing is also bad. Embrace your own individuality every day.