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6 Tips from a Reflective High School Senior

Student Life

It may be hard to believe that the pure blast that is high school is only what precedes all the amazing things to come. In the UK, secondary school begins at age 11, then, depending on what one chooses to do, ends at 18, allowing us to pursue more in our lives: exciting careers, meeting new people, learning new skills, and, perhaps, running into the one.

I am going into my senior year, and it has honestly been an absolute rollercoaster: unpredictable, emotional, educative, and hormonal, but never boring. I've learnt many lessons in my years at secondary school and sixth form, and there are definitely things I wish I'd known when I was younger. Here are a few of them.

1. Know your worth and never let anyone question it

In school and, by extension, life, you're the No. 1 priority. Your happiness and satisfaction should always outweigh anyone else's opinions or feelings towards you.

I recently had a conversation with an elderly woman wherein we discussed my future plans, and she offered me some invaluable advice. She spoke about her family and the pressures she felt being a woman, then raised the point that, when in a marriage or relationship, as much as you might love that other person, you should always love yourself that little bit more.

And that stuck with me, because I spent so much time putting other people before myself and brushing my own emotions aside for the sake of others. Don't. Be kind to people, but kinder to yourself. So put yourself first, and don't let anyone make you feel selfish for doing so. Pick yourself every time, because in the long run, you will be the only constant. I can never stress this enough— do not let anyone else make you compromise your satisfaction.

2. Have confidence in yourself

It's simple: if you don't believe in yourself, no one else will. I can definitely say that I'm not as confident as I used to be, resulting in my passing up incredible opportunities, doubting myself, and dimming my light. For example, in class, I frequently hesitate before answering a question, or, better yet, I don't say anything at all. I think the most important thing is an unwavering sense of self-belief— knowing how incredible you are, radiating boss energy, and being brave enough to make mistakes. Because it is these mistakes that allow us to grow, to improve, and to learn. Truly, the biggest favour you can do yourself is to back yourself up, no matter what.

But if there's one thing watching Barbie throughout my childhood taught me, it's that confidence without character is dangerous. Love and prioritise yourself, but do not dismiss the needs, thoughts, and feelings of others. Because then that's no longer confidence— it's dismissiveness. Just because you're the main character in your own story doesn't mean you're the same in everyone else's; be considerate of others.

3. Have fun

This is one thing I wish I had done much more of. I spent all my years cooped up in my bedroom, working, reading, and researching, and whilst it did pay off, it also meant I spent a lot of time in emotional and physical burnout (which is not fun, I can assure you).

It doesn't hurt to go out and have fun from time to time; you can even have fun on your own sofa, bingeing a series or spending time with those you love. Relaxation is essential, so allocate some time for it. You're only young once; make beautiful memories that will last a lifetime.

4. Stay organised

Pack your bags the night before; otherwise, it's a mad scramble to find things the next morning. Get your outfits sorted well in advance. Keep your workspaces organised such that you can find anything without much difficulty.

One thing I did that helped me manage my workload was get assignments out of the way as soon as they were set. Rather spend a few hours or even the day doing the work you've been set properly and mastering the subject, than scramble at the last minute to avoid detention.

To overcome procrastination, push yourself to get things done. It's always worked for me. Learning is about doing a little, often. Consistency is key if you want to improve, and you can't rely on motivation. Stay on top of your work and don't cast things aside when you can do it now.

5. Don't take the easy route

Challenge yourself. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. If you're comfortable, if you're not struggling to some degree, you're not approaching your full potential. Growing up should be all about seeking opportunities to better yourself, to learn new lessons, to experience new things, and to meet new people.

So pick that challenging task your teacher set. Embark on projects for extra credit. Join that new club. Sit at the front of the class. Make an effort to be kind to everyone. These tasks may seem difficult at first, but they're crucial to our growth and betterment.

If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you.

6. Don't be afraid to be different

"The same" is boring. Just because it's a popular choice doesn't mean it's the right one. No one gets rich by being the same as those who preceded them. The key to making your mark is to bring something new, something fresh, something original to the table.

Celebrate difference. Be proud of difference. Embrace difference. These are what make us beautiful.

Personally, secondary school was a great time. I met new people, encountered new challenges, tried new activities, made mistakes, and left a legacy. I will leave a better human.

I hope you take these tips to heart to make your high school experience even more beautiful. Always please yourself and surround yourself with those who cherish your uniqueness, urge you to improve as a person, and encourage you to make positive life choices. Make high school the best time of your life, because you deserve it. Lots of love.

Olaronke Bamiduro
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Olaronke "Ronke" Bamiduro is a 17 year old sixth-form student from London, UK and is in her senior year at sixth form. She is passionate about the power of the voice and the importance of expression. Olaronke enjoys reading, writing, yoga, cooking, netball, sharing her experiences and self-reflection.