Things I would tell myself if I could do high school over again

Everybody knows that high school is awkward.
Between learning to make new friends, share your old friends, or deal with not having any friends, this period of time in a young adolescent’s life can be totally and unpredictably amazing, terrifying, exciting, intimidating, shocking, insulting–you name it–all within a day.

If every person who had a chance to put high school behind them and move on to bigger and better things wrote a manual titled How to Get Through, or Surviving the Chaos, or Rumor-ridding 101, I’m sure we would all do it.
…and then send it back in time.

But where would you begin?
Without some of the experiences we go through in that treachery of an establishment, it’s safe to admit we would not be who we are today.  That being said, there are some things that you simply can not change after the fact, and maybe you would’ve turned out even better had you known the consequences down the road.

I will start with this: You are who your friends are.
When you are a naive freshman, diving into a school where you know pretty-much nobody, and nobody knows you, it is only normal to want to be liked.  So you hang out with the big-chested girls who get the most attention.  Or the funny football players that are always disrupting class, “but they’re, like, SO silly,” and you become friends with them.  The behind-the-scenes fact that nobody tells you is the following:  Guys don’t respect that girl, and teachers aren’t in the least bit humored by those guys.

[[Translation–] Guys will assume you have “slutty” tendencies when you hang out with the attention-driven girls; Teachers will assume you’re a nuisance if you continue to egg-on the disruptive class clown.  Therefore, no respect and bad grades.]  Moving on.

Stupidity isn’t cute.  Self-explanatory.

Looking back on looking ahead:
I loved my college experience, but my options were limited.  Mostly, I screwed myself over by only applying to one school that I knew without a doubt I would get accepted to.  Don’t do that.
Secondly, I didn’t really apply myself academically until the end of my sophomore year, when my dad told me he’d buy me a car if I made High Honors for four consecutive semesters.

What I’m getting at here is that you need to apply yourself from the very first day until the day you graduate.  Had I done that, maybe I could’ve gotten those three more points on my ACT that would’ve allowed me to consider bigger and better schools.  Maybe my cumulative GPA would have been a half a point higher.  Maybe having more “drive” would have helped me get through writing essays for all of those colleges I wish, in retrospect, that I would have gone to.  Next.

If you have a skill or talent you love, go for it! I love writing.  I wish I had joined the Newspaper Club or Yearbook Committee.  I wish I had paid more attention in British Literature and applied myself to the fullest in Creative Writing.  Don’t plan your future based on job security and desired salary.  If I had known that back then, I would have been writing my third or fourth novel right now.

Just because a boy tells you he loves you, it doesn’t mean he knows the depth of what he is saying. Boys think with their hormones, at least at that age.  (Hopefully, by now, they know the difference.)

Take guitar lessons. (What? I wish I could play…)

Do NOT start rumors about people. Do not believe rumors told to you about people.  What I’m getting at is, you really should never believe something is true unless you were there, you saw and heard it for yourself, and you know with true certainty that what you saw and what you heard was not taken out of context.
Some of the nicest people are ruined by rumors.  They don’t know how to defend themselves against such a rapidly growing virus.  It’s bad enough to be the victim of a rumor, but it’s once friends start believing and spreading that rumor that the victim gives up fighting and starts believing in what was said, taking a turn for the worse.

Don’t quit your extracurriculars. I quit track and cross-country after freshman year.  After I ran a varsity race and took 2nd.  My coach tried to persuade me every day in class to join the team again.  She told me I had potential, that I was apparently “scholarship material” when it came to certain races.  Lying, I told her I had a bad knee.  I quit poms halfway through senior year, right before they performed the unforgettable “bag” routine (that routine was AWESOME).  When I went to college and everybody talked about which sports they played, or which competitions they danced in, it sucked when I had to say, “Yeah I did that too, but I quit.”

Lastly, go to EVERY football, soccer, basketball game you can.  Go to all the dances– you never know what you might miss out on if you don’t.

Don’t drink, don’t smoke. None of it really is what it’s cracked up to be.  Plus it makes you a slacker.  It ruins your potential.
…not to mention your liver.
…and your tolerance.

These are only a few of the guidelines I wish I could tell my 15 year-old self.  If you would like to add others, feel free.


3 thoughts on “Things I would tell myself if I could do high school over again

  1. I love this post Caitlin! I was actually just thinking about this. I have a couple of my own to add.

    1. Pick your battles.
    Your grades are good, you’ve done all your chores, and you’ve been on your best behavior then it’s ok to try to negotiate a later curfew.
    That bikini in the mall your mom wouldn’t buy because it was too revealing? Not worth the argument.

    2. Keep a diary or journal.
    It’s interesting to see what 13-18 year old you was thinking.

    3. 9 times out of 10 your parents know you’re lying.
    No, the dent on the roof of the car did not come from the Jewel parking lot. No, Gracie’s parents won’t be home, and yes there will be boys there. No, you did not catch the stomach flu the morning after Gracie’s party. No, that is not a curling iron burn. Your parents were young once too. They’ll respect and trust you a whole lot more if you’re just honest.

    4. Use your teachers.
    Whether they offer to read your paper and give you feed back, went to a college you’re considering, or are just generally nice people, use their knowledge and experience. They want to help you.

    5. Sometimes your parents are right.
    Looking back at pictures I wish I would have listened to my mom when she told me that my jeans weren’t very flattering or to go easy on the blue eyeshadow….essh. While you may not always agree with them, they have your best interest at heart. Just remember that. Plus, they generally won’t let you leave the house looking like a fool.


  2. Too funny and so true.

    1. Your parents understand what is going on in your life more than you think they do.
    If you think your parents were innocent angels growing up and not in touch with reality whatsoever, you are completely wrong. Chances are they were wilder and crazier than you were. Wonder why there were so many rules growing up? Because when they were growing up, they either didn’t have them and should have or had them and broke every single one.

    2. Get a job and save money asap.
    Not only will you learn responsibility, networking skills, self-discipline, etc… You will also be able to put some cash in the piggybank which will help TREMENDOUSLY once you get out in the real world. Plus, you will probably just blow it on stupid shit that you would never in a million years be caught dead in post-high school.

    3. Enjoy every minute with your true, true friends.
    Remember those nights cruising around town, dancing to the newest ‘hot’ song with the volume turned up and the windows rolled down? Remember just sitting up all night gossiping and giggling? Remember romantic movie and pizza girls nights? Cherish every second of them. Truth is, as you grow up you gain more responsibilities and it is harder to find time for those simplistic joys. Then you throw husbands and kids into the mix… don’t get me started.

    There are plenty more I am sure. We sure would have been smart 15 year olds had we known what we know now. Oh, to be young and naive…


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