Are you one of those Belle of the Balls, the school champions, the Benjamin Franklins of your high school? Well, kudos to you, because you make up about a 0.0001% of the population.
The rest of us, the Button Gwinnetts, the Salieris- you have no idea who I'm talking about, do you? Exactly my point- the underdogs of the high school, have marched through our high school years with the exact amount of excitement that we'll be putting into walking through our own funeral processions.
Is High School ≠ Fun?
Why, you ask, does high school suck so much for so many of us?
It is actually a great myth that the popular kids enjoy high school experience more than your average Joes do. They're just better at tackling the social pressure, or better yet, pretending to know how to tackle the social pressure. Most of the popular kids´ chickens will come home to roost sooner or later in life, which is significantly worse than if they started dealing with their problems back in high school.
The reason for that is simple — It is much easier to learn about your emotional, physical and sexual needs during the time in your life when you don't have to worry about paying rent than dealing with it when life comes at you with its full force during adulthood.
Here is the list of five valuable lessons I have learned in high school.
1. The Learning Never Ends
Does this sound like a bummer upon the first glance? Absolutely. But it is a lesson within a lesson. I am not talking about academic learning, the crystal intelligence your education armors you with. I am talking about learning in general. The teenage years are hard for everyone because they just are. It is your first introduction into the somewhat real world, you don't play with mock pianos and Barbies anymore, you are in the process of discovering the values your community holds high above all others.
You learn more about the responsibilities your parents have towards you, and the ones you have towards them. You are beginning to come to terms with your sexuality, you are getting to know your body that seems to be having some sort of breakdown every two days or so, whether that means emotionally or physically, and on top of that, you are deciding your future.
The good and the bad news are, the learning never ends. There will always be a new co-worker that you will have to cooperate with in order for your job to be functional and enjoyable. There will always be a new boyfriend or a girlfriend you will be embedding on a journey with, and even when you settle down and get married, your partner, just like yourself, is an endless enigma of the beautiful and the ugly to study, to understand, and to love.
The journey never ends until it truly ends. You learn until the very last breath you take in this life. When you actually come to terms with the fact that high school is not a phase but rather an incredibly useful preparation camp for what’s to come next, you will step into a unique understanding of life, you mature much faster, and maybe even start enjoying high school for what it is — a learning experience.
2. It Gets Better
It is a profound cliché to say this but there is a bit of truth in every stereotype.
Why am I so sure that it gets better? Not only because I have already been through this, but mainly because I see evidence of it every day of my life. It is hard to see a wider perspective when you're surrounded by your peers, your siblings, your parents, and your specific group of friends, and only them. But there are tones of successful people around you, who didn't´t have a good time in high school, yet came on top of it.
We human beings are creative, curious minds, and we demand scientific proof for every statement. Well, I bet your mom sometimes has her friends over for a cup of coffee. However insane and lame it sounds, talking to people outside your circle of acquaintances might be the magical ingredients for your high school experience to get better. Ask mom’s friend Lena who works as a marketing director how she managed to overcome bullying.
Ask your dad’s friend John who’s a manager at a local mattress store where he learned the leadership skills to govern an entire store when just fifteen years ago or so, his math teacher claimed he would end up destitute on the streets. Then, you can truly start believing that it gets better.
3. Your Identity Evolves Throughout Your Twenties
Do yourself a favor, and give yourself a break.
Although they make you choose a career path fairly early on, unless you are strongly passionate about becoming a doctor, or dedicated to your art as a graphic novel designer, you probably won't end up doing the job you set your heart on in high school. It is a tremendous pressure to put on a sixteen-year old to begin with, choosing AP classes so early on, sending out college application without having a clue whether you like blueberries on pancakes better than chocolate chips, much less embarking on a life journey you're supposed to follow for the rest of your life.
The good news is, you don't have to. Take your time to think about your passions but don't beat yourself up about it. The majority of the people don't work in an industry they got a college diploma from. It is not a waste of time or money to invest in your education, though.
The reason being, college is an ideal birthing place for your career choices. You will most likely meet people of similar mind in college who will share your interests. It opens up your mind, clears the mess that high school leaves behind, and helps you navigate your life. The most valuable skill you can learn in college is discipline.
So no worries, take it easy, choosing a college major in high school is not a life sentence, it's a starting point — a springboard of sorts.
4. Chances Are — Everyone Around You Is Just As Miserable (Or ecstatic)
Not to sound too emo, or to generalize, and we sort of touched upon previously — not everything is as it seems.
To drive the point home, imagine your high school halls as your Facebook wall, or your Instagram Feed. No one is posting about their failures, their bad hair days, their period cramps, or how their grandpa went on a slightly racist tangent at Wendy’s last Saturday.
People are made of different cloths, and some of us are more sensitive than others. You might publicly show disinterest in classes and roam the halls annoyed, and other might even agree with you yet choose not to show it and save face. The most important thing is to be kind to everyone, you never know, a simple good morning wave might brighten someone else’s day.
5. Everything Is Temporary
If nothing else gives you consolation, know this, everything comes to an end, even high school. There will be moments in life that you despise, and the moments you cherish. The beauty of moving forward with an open heart is to recognize that all those moments are temporary. However bittersweet, or comforting, or devastating, or accommodating — life is temporary.