When I was younger—in elementary school, middle school, even junior high—high school seemed like a faraway fantasy land. Everything in the media screamed at me, “High school will be the best years of your life! Don’t waste it! Do crazy things! You’ll never be this young again!”
Now, as I’m in my second to last year of high school, I know better. Here’s everything I’ve learned so far.
1. High School is way overrated.
It didn’t take long for me to figure that out. It’s true that you’ll never be this young again, and it’s true that you should make the most of it. On the other hand, there’s not all that much to make the most of, depending on where you live and what school you go to. Most of the time you will be so overwhelmed by schoolwork that you won’t have time to make the most of anything. And when you’re not overwhelmed, you’ll just want to rest and have some alone time, so in the end you don’t even have all that much time to have fun. But if you do have that time, then please go out and make the most of it.
2. These are NOT the best years of your life.
...unless you’re one of the types that peak in high school. I’ve asked multiple people when the best years of their lives were, and out of so many, only a few of them said high school. The majority, on the other hand, said college. So if you don’t like high school so far, don’t stress it—you’ll have your time.
3. There are no cliques or labels.
Maybe it used to be different, but by this point in time, high school has done away with the social caste system. Sure, there are some people who are more popular than others. There are people who have more friends than others, just like there are people who have no friends. But the friendless aren’t labeled as losers, and the more popular people aren’t labeled as plastics. Everyone is just a person, as they should be. People are nothing more or less than people, and are not dehumanized as much as they are in movies—at least for the most part.
4. Don't ever believe rumors.
I have heard countless rumors throughout my journey in high school so far and I can firmly say that almost none of them have proven to be true. So that girl you’ve never spoken to that you’ve heard has a thing against you? Start up a conversation with her. Say hi to her in the halls. She could become your new best friend. That guy that you heard you should stay away from? Unless the reason is that he’s a psychopath, go talk to him. He could be the coolest guy you’ll ever meet. And truth be told, there are probably some rumors being made about you too that you don’t even know about! What if someone isn’t talking to you for the exact same reasons you’re not talking to them?
5. Try not to be influenced.
The reason I say try is because you probably will be greatly influenced by many things without even realizing, especially social media and your friends. This will most likely happen in your early high school years, like your freshman or even half of sophomore year. By your junior or senior year, you’ll look back on your younger self and cringe at the way you acted, no matter how cool you thought you were. Although it’s cheesy since it’s the theme of most high school movies, don’t try to fit in. If your personality doesn’t fit with certain people, then don’t change it. You are the way you are for a reason, and you are still growing. Don’t subject yourself to just one category. You were made to be loud, and to fill up as much space as you want in this world. Leave room for individual growth, without relying on others’ opinions.
6. It does get better.
Yeah, we’ve heard it all before. “It gets better.” This phrase has been said so much that it has lost its meaning by now. If you’re in your freshman or sophomore year and you’re not particularly enjoying yourself, don’t lose all hope yet. You have at least two years left. And if you’re about to graduate and all your high school years have sucked, then it still does get better out in the real world. You have more days to come—more quarters, more semesters, more days and weeks to count down. You still have happy days ahead of you.
In the end, High School Musical really is a big fat lie. There is no Sharpay with her bright pink locker, and there is no high school jock Troy Bolton, or nerdy, pretty girl Gabriella. In the end, you really are what you make yourself to be and how you present yourself. Nevertheless, it is true that you will never be this young again—and I’m not talking about just your high school years. As you read this, right this second, you will never be this young again. As you read this next sentence, you are seconds older than you were when you read the last sentence, and you will never get those seconds back. Every second not doing something for your future or something you love is a second thrown away. You don’t have an unlimited resource of time, so stop wasting it.