5 Lessons I Learned in High School That Weren't on The Syllabus
One recent grad shares her most important lessons. Spoiler: They didn't come from a biology textbook.
Friends are your lifeline.
I’m very lucky to have an amazing family who have been extremely loving and supportive throughout my life. But high school means that there are just some things that your family will never understand. That’s how I learned the value of having an incredible group of friends who are there for me whenever I need them. We’ve cried together after exams that went wrong, complained about teachers together, traveled together, and spent hours sending silly memes back and forth when the stress of school is getting to us. I know that I can call them any time of the day or night and they will always be there for me. It’s definitely the most clichéd lesson I’ve learned in high school—but thanks to my friends, the road ahead will be so much easier.
Your life is not a movie (or a music video).
When I was still in elementary school, I had this idea that high school was going to be just like it is in Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” music video. I was going to go to a really amazing school and watch sports in the bleachers with all my friends. And at some point, an amazing Prince Charming kind of guy would come and sweep me off my feet. Obviously, it didn’t happen like that. Instead of a music video, I got braces, untameable hair, some mean girls, and a lot of tears. But I also got the chance to travel the world; I had some amazing teachers and I met the best friends I could possibly imagine. High school taught me that there’s no formula for life. It can’t be cast, costumed and choreographed like a music video. Life is more like a movie set—it’s chaotic, loud, and confusing (with a lot of people watching you). But that’s the beauty of it. Now I wouldn’t trade my years in high school for a three-minute music video for anything.
You are your own worst enemy.
The biggest mistakes I made in high school happened because I didn’t have the courage to believe in myself. High school is hard; I can’t deny that. But the people I knew who were the happiest come graduation are the ones who chose to ignore the crowd. They were the ones who stayed true to themselves and didn’t hide in their comfort zones. They didn’t worry about what others would say about them. Instead, they knew what they wanted and they stuck with it, knowing it would pay off. If you believe in yourself, people take notice, and it’ll open up so many amazing opportunities that will help you reach your goals.
You don’t always have to follow the rules.
I’m not saying that you should go and break some laws (that’s almost always a bad idea). But sometimes, authority is wrong! We should all challenge the process. I’ve never been a very rebellious person (you could almost describe me as shy). But throughout high school, I’ve participated in what I affectionately call “little acts of rebellion.” Some of them are very insignificant, like writing a whole essay that argues against the question rather than for it. But the way I see it, those little acts of rebellion build up my courage. One day, when I have to stand up for something big—something I really believe in, but that authority disagrees with me about—I’ll know what to do. If our whole generation is just a little bit rebellious, we could change the world. We could achieve equal pay for men and women. We could achieve marriage equality for people everywhere. We could stop the inhumane detention of asylum seekers. Young people really do have the ability to make this world a better place.
You are not the center of the universe.
A lot of the time, the worries that we have about ourselves are completely irrational. We get anxious about inconsequential things like bad hair days, failing a test or messing up a speech. But what we don’t realize is that at the end of the day, people have better things to do than notice that your hair is extra frizzy or care that you failed a test. No one is critiquing every minute of your life, even if it sometimes feels like it. And really, the only people that you should care about impressing in high school are the people who truly care about you.
By Zoe Victoria, 18