Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

Advice From A Senior

Posted 02/23/2023 by McKenzy Perkins

This doorway has been sentimental to me through high school; the doors never changed, but the advice I would have given did. photo by Shana Saint-Phard

High school, the worst years of your life, might be fixed with nine simple pieces of advice. 

Nothing can change my mind about what a challenge these past four years have been. Although it might not be the best, I have a lot of advice to give about high school issues. I do not know everything, but I now know the solutions to many problems that have suffocated me during my time at TJ.

Do not let the world consume you. You are so young and have so much more to learn. This point is important because the world can be a dangerous and sometimes horrible place. It is difficult to navigate, but do not spend all your time enduring that when you are fifteen years old. Endure it when you are older and better prepared for it. The world for me at fifteen meant friends and school. Those two things were the only world I knew about for years. But over time, problems with friends consumed me, and I began isolating myself. The problem was not that I cared, but that I cared too much and was hurting without saying anything. I often felt like my brain was attacking me from the inside out.

Do not procrastinate. Procrastination breeds laziness. I did not understand that until my junior year, when I learned that I never wanted to do anything, ever. (That included studying for the SAT.) However, I learned through procrastinating the value of turning in assignments on time. Due to waiting until the very last minute to get subpar work in, I never got bad grades. But the more I did it, the harder it was to keep up. I am still teaching myself not to procrastinate because it truly is not worth it.

Stay in your lane. Sometimes your business is yours, and other people’s business is not. It took me a long time to understand that the world does not revolve around me and that I need to focus on myself rather than others. Many problems arose from involving myself in things that did not concern me, which did more harm than good in the long run. In my freshman year, no one’s business was their own, which is never how it should be. People are entitled to their privacy. If you mind your own business, everything will work out.

It is okay to cry, especially when you know how stressed you are. No one should judge, but generally, people do, especially when you feel the need to let it out in a public setting. Never feel guilty or ashamed for needing a good cry. Everyone needs to cry sometimes, especially if you feel emotions that do not impact you regularly. Stress is a constant factor in high school, and it teaches you how to “manage” your emotions. Sometimes not in the best ways, but it does. You can cry, it is allowed, and sometimes you will feel better if you do.

Do not hide your personality to make friends. Making friends is important and can help you endure the high school experience, but you cannot boil yourself down to fit in with a group. You are unique and special and deserve a place in this world. Turning yourself into someone you do not recognize can cause so much harm to your mental health. To those who stay themselves through every challenge thrown at them, I am proud of you because I know how hard it can be. It is also important to remember that if you have true friends, they would never expect you to be someone you are not.

Do not talk about people behind their backs.I have learned that talking badly about another person always comes back to bite you later on. I am no stranger to talking about someone behind their back, but I am also no stranger to hearing things people have said about me. Some people have the maturity to breathe and talk through their issues rather than causing more problems by talking about others. If someone were to make things up when they aren’t there, that is a huge red flag. Unfortunately, saying this will not stop everyone but may teach you the consequences of talking slyly. When you gossip, you have no idea who will hear you and who may spill the beans. It may be hard to realize, but there will always be someone braver than you who will tell the other person that you were talking about them. It always causes more problems. Just try to avoid it.

Learn to move on from things you cannot control. I have realized over these past four years that there are several things I cannot change in my life. I cannot control who likes me or who wants to be my friend, but I can control my reactions to those things. The Narcotics Anonymous handbook has a mantra stating, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Despite the negative biases some have against NA, this quote applies to everything. Knowing what I can and cannot control has changed my outlook on life. Anything can happen, but we can always control our responses.

Learn how to stand up for yourself. As someone with a loud mouth, standing up for myself has never been a difficult task, but I have not always done it properly. Some people despise confrontation, but we all need to speak up when something is wrong. When something offends you, it makes sense to say something. When something is hurting you (either mentally or physically), you have to say something. Nothing changes unless things are made to change. You must gather the courage to ensure you are treated the right way. This goes for experiences with teachers, friends, significant others, and even family. I believe in you if you have difficulty discussing the things that bother you.

Take accountability. Taking accountability for your actions is the hardest piece of advice that you will probably ever receive. But it creates more problems to force yourself out of a situation you caused. Taking responsibility for what you have done can foster a level of trust with the people your actions have hurt that you may have never experienced. They may be upset, but accepting responsibility shows maturity that some people have difficulty achieving.

Throughout my four years of high school, I have learned what to do and what not to do, but I still have so much more to learn. Even college will not teach me everything I need to know to become a successful member of society. But if I had this advice when I came in as a freshman, I would have made different decisions. I hope this helps someone because these nine things are essential. High school is hard, keeping friends is hard, and it only works if you listen to advice from people who have gone through it. My mom has told me these nine things since I was in elementary school, but I never had the heart to listen until I went through it. Sometimes the most important thing in life is realizing where you went wrong and knowing how to fix it.