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Dear High School Self,

So you’re in high school and there are a million things going on.  Trying to figure out how to balance a social life, academics and relationships while also trying to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life.  No one said it was easy, but if I could go back in time and tell myself then what I know now, here’s what I would say…

        Don’t worry about what other people think about you.  If people want to judge you, they’ll find a way.  Those mean girls that you overheard talking about you sophomore year?  They just wanted to make themselves feel better.  Don’t stress out over making sure you have the perfect outfit or hair everyday because other people will either like you or not, no matter what you are wearing.  In hindsight, approval of others isn’t such a big deal.  Do what makes you happy, don’t base your decisions on another person’s judgment.

        Be more confident!  We live in an age where people are constantly degrading each other for no reason at all.  You will be so much happier if you have confidence in yourself and your abilities.  It may seem like you aren’t as smart, athletic, creative or likable as other people in you high school, but we all have our area to shine and someday very soon you’ll find yours.  During high school, you are constantly worrying about making a good impression on everyone else.  Stop telling yourself they don’t like you.  Stop telling yourself you aren’t good enough or that people don’t like you.  Your teachers are impressed with you and that boy you can’t stop thinking about probably can’t stop thinking about you either.  Yes, he noticed you even though you didn’t think he did because when you talked to him yesterday “you didn’t look good.”  Someday you’ll know.     

        It’s high school… You’re dating now.  Yes, there are some people that marry their high school sweetheart, but that’s no for everyone and that’s not for you.  Be independent and don’t let a guy control your every move.  It may seem like everyone has a boyfriend or girlfriend in high school, but that doesn’t mean you need to, too.  Take the extra time you have and spend it with your family and friends because in a few months when that relationship is over, you’ll wish you had.  Relationships are good, but don’t be in one just so you have someone like everyone else and don’t settle for less than you know you deserve.

        Give everything your all.  Right now, you aren’t so focused on school because you don’t think it’s important.  And realistically when you look back on it, your grades still won’t matter because you will still get into your first choice of college, but it’s more than that.  Part of getting good grades is proving to yourself that you were capable all along.  No, you may not be getting 100’s on every test like the kid you try and compare yourself too, but the harder you try, the more you know you can do it.  Don’t just give it your all for your grades; give it your all in clubs and extracurriculars.  Make time for those, not just because they look good on an application, but because you want to… because they are fun… because they teach you so much about yourself.  So, try hard now so that once you get to college you already know a strong work ethic. 

        Realize that all the little things mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.  It’s all over and done with now.  Looking back, it doesn’t even matter what all those people thought of you or how many friends you had, because either way you were destined to end up right where you are today- killing it at college, getting A’s on the hardest exams, having close to a 4.0 GPA, staying up late nights to study to prove to yourself you can do it… not because you have to, but because you want to.  Seeing how far you have come since the day you stood on the football field for the last time with your class, nobody would have bet that you, the girl in high school who didn’t have the highest grades and wasn’t the most popular throughout the years, would be so successful in college.  If you could see yourself now, you would never believe it.  You didn’t know that back then, but you do now… So, plan for the best, aim to be successful and don’t let the judgment of others determine your happiness.  Let yourself determine your happiness based on what you want to become and aim to become nothing less than that.

With love,

My wiser, college self 


Image from: https://drshefali.com/tag/fitting-in/ 

My name is Adrienne Crist and I am a junior psychology and art major at Clarion University. In the future, I aspire to be an Art Therapist to make a difference in the lives of many people.
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