TEN THINGS I WISH SOMEONE TOLD ME IN HIGH SCHOOL
by Abbigale Kernya,
Youth Editor, KBI Inspire Magazine
Our Youth Editor, Abbigale Kernya, is a second- year University student with a passion for music, art, reading, and film.
"as someone who chose an art degree against her family's wishes, I am here to remind you that somebody else’s plans have no right to influence your own. By plans, I simply mean what gives you joy, what gets you out of bed, and what inspires you. Please, please, follow your passions because I promise you will find your footing even if you have no idea what you want to do with your life. I’ll let you in on a little secret - nobody has any clue what they’re doing, so you may as well go your own way while you’re at it."
1. It goes so fast - make the most of it
I still remember walking down the halls in ninth grade and thinking, wow, this is it. It seemed like this was my forever, an array of soft-toned metal lockers and linoleum floors. And even though I knew I would graduate and move on, I didn’t actually think it would ever really happen. High school feels like forever, but once you’re out, you begin to realize how fast everything went. Make the most of the precious last few years you will spend as a kid - join clubs, take that art class, take way too many pictures, and remember how it feels to have the whole world waiting for you outside those walls. I promise regret will follow you as closely as it follows me, I promise that it's normal, and I also promise you can ease this burden by taking every advantage this stage in your life offers you.
2. This is such a small part of your life (life is so much bigger, but your feelings are valid)
It would be lost on me if I did not assure you, dear reader, that I have also felt that soul-crushing pain obligatory in high school. I know, I’ve been there too. And as someone who survived, I’m here to tell you that the pain that follows you around the halls doesn’t last forever. In fact, it almost disappears completely once you leave. Of course, I am biassed as I had two years at home due to that thing known as a pandemic, but I can assure you that all those problems I lost sleep over all those years ago aren’t even a distant memory. Yes, you have every right to feel the way you do. High school is unbelievably tough, but just know it doesn’t last. This is such an astronomically small part of your life. In fact, I am going to be bold here and tell you that life doesn’t even begin until after high school, everything else is simply the preface.
3. Please, please, follow your passions.
I know that you have probably met those people who have had their life plan mapped out since the fourth grade. And as someone who chose an art degree against her family's wishes, I am here to remind you that somebody else’s plans have no right to influence your own. By plans, I simply mean what gives you joy, what gets you out of bed, and what inspires you. Please, please, follow your passions because I promise you will find your footing even if you have no idea what you want to do with your life. I’ll let you in on a little secret - nobody has any clue what they’re doing, so you may as well go your own way while you’re at it. I knew there was nothing else I wanted to study in high school other than literature. My room is my own personal overflowing library. I was constantly thinking about writing and reading, so why not make it my career? If you’re going to be imprisoned by capitalism for the rest of your life, you better be doing something you actually enjoy - even if it looks different than everyone else’s.
4. It's normal to lose friends
I can’t remember where I first heard this, but it has always stuck with me: part of growing up is outgrowing people. No truer statement holds merit such as this for the trials and tribulations of high school friendships. Especially going to school in a rural community, we have all known each other since we were basically babies, we all grew up together and spent every waking minute of school crammed in the same small classroom. Then when I headed off to high school, suddenly my tight-knit friend group was put to the test as other kids came into the picture and we slowly began to drift apart. Yes, it's hard, I won’t sit here and tell you it's not. But, I will sit here and tell you that it's okay to stop talking, it's normal to want to branch out.
5. Everyone is just as insecure as you
Believe me, everyone else is also faking it.
6. When you express yourself, you are going to attract others like you
This is one that I wish more than anything someone told me when I was in high school. Towards the end, I found people that matched my energy but I spent the first half of this very short world pretending to be someone I didn’t like. Yes, that is normal, especially when you’re thrown into a new environment and the thought of letting go of your childhood friends who acted as your crutch during this transition is scary. However, I wish I was brave enough to start wearing the clothes I liked, the movies, the music - I would have found those people much sooner. When you express yourself, you are going to attract others like you and it's the most beautiful feeling.
7. There is a lesson in that breakup
Oh boy. I struggle to look back at my high school relationships without swallowing down my cringe but however unhealthy and awkward they were, I learned so much from those painful breakups. Mainly, I learned exactly what I don’t want in a partner. This was a monumental awakening for me, and I promise once the pain ends and you look back at everything, you will uncover parts of yourself. Specifically, who you are as a partner and who you want in a partner–making the daunting thought of dating again a little less challenging. In other words: been there, done that, never again.
8. Your body is changing, learn to love it
I feel that when talking about diet culture, something I have spent oh so many years dissecting, it all comes down to one simple thing: life is too short to spend it worrying about your body. And yes I recognize that this is easier said than done, believe me, I do. However, repeating this sentiment to yourself especially when confidence is at an all-time low in high school is the start of acceptance. Bodies will continue to change, how you look now is different than how you looked before and how you will look in the future. Trust me when I tell you life is a lot less stressful when you accept that your body has always been beautiful no matter what you think of it, and there is so much more beauty to be found outside of a body.
9. “Fitting in” only matters now
Whether you choose to continue on with education, take some time off, or jump straight into the workforce, I can promise you will find that the urge to be liked by everyone around you simply vanishes - for the most part. I can only speak to my university experience when I say that when I walk around campus, sit in a lecture hall, or speak in my seminars, I really could not care less about if people think I’m cool, if I’m wearing the right brand, or whatever else used to plague my mind. Blame this newfound freedom on being a double aries or experience it yourself because I promise you, once you’re out of high school everything shifts. A lot of this comes from understanding that all these strangers around you don't care about you - and it's so liberating.
10. Yes, your grades actually do matter…but not in the way you think
I don't know about you but I was also told in high school that grades don’t matter– I have something else to add to this discussion. The physical grade makes an astronomical difference when it comes to your scholarships and can make a significant difference in your soon-to-be debt. However, as someone who chose an art degree and cannot remember the first thing about algebra or cells, I can tell you with confidence that the gruelling study routine that was ingrained in my head is so beneficial. Learning how to properly study and understand time management is arguably more important than the grade you got on your biology test (granted you’re not looking to become a biologist. If you are, stop reading this and go study for all our sakes)