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3 Things I Wish I Knew Before High School

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

As I concluded my first year of college, I began reflecting on where I was exactly one year ago. I was almost done with my senior year and ecstatic to finally leave high school behind and begin a new chapter in my life. What I did not know was that I’d have many regrets about my high school experience. 

Your Grades Don’t Define You

I know that this is something we hear all the time, especially on social media. Though it’s something that too many people, including myself, have not fully accepted. 

Being someone who maintained a 4.0 GPA from sophomore to senior year and graduated top of the class, I certainly prioritized academic success over mental health. Constantly putting pressure on myself to be the best academically was my way of hiding the insecurities I had deep down. In a 2018 TEDx Talk, speaker Valeria Hernandez shared a similar experience. “I easily hid behind my resume and extracurriculars, my own form of antidepressants,” said Hernandez, “hiding behind accomplishments, social media likes, and smiles surprisingly easy.” 

Putting your entire self-worth into your grades, even as a means to conceal other deeply-rooted issues, will only lead you to poorer self-esteem. To me, one bad grade would lead me down a negative spiral full of feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. Rather than using my academic performance to determine my worth, I now write down and remind myself of the qualities I possess outside of school.

I am resilient and compassionate towards others. 

High School Drama Will Not Matter In College or Adult Life 

My high school experience was a quite turbulent four years. In addition to transferring twice, I experienced very low points in my mental health due to drama at school. I even found myself crying in my school’s Wellness Center on a regular basis. 

We all know the saying “hindsight is 20/20.” I can now confidently say that it is very true. Having experienced a full year of college, I learned that, in the grand scheme of things, high school conflicts are miniscule and will not matter in the future. We, young people, unfortunately, do not have the life experience to be able to fully realize this. Something to remember, though, is that more likely than not, you will not see the majority of your classmates after graduation. You may go to a different city or state for school or to a school that most of your classmates do not attend. This offers a great opportunity to start fresh. 

My advice is to stay out of drama as best as you can. Of course, some scenarios cannot be avoided, but it is best to not go actively seeking or starting drama. 

You Are Only a Teenager Once, So Enjoy It While You Can

Throughout all of high school, I was constantly looking forward to college and longing to be an adult, to the point that I did not allow myself to fully enjoy high school. I tried my absolute best to fit in and even lost sight of my own personal core values. I distinctly remember engaging in harmful self-deprecating humor and sacrificing my self-esteem to appear “cool” and “relatable” to my peers. 

Reporter Jonathan Wolfe of the New York Times asked readers about some of their high school regrets. One reader, a 25-year-old named Lindsey Dartsch, said “I would have been bolder with my fashion and my ability to just be myself. Something about teenagers being close to each other makes them hypersensitive to judgment. I wish I hadn’t cared!” 

Dartsch is right, tight-knit communities of young people who are figuring out who they are and what they stand for is bound to make them feel extremely self-conscious. Despite this, it is vital to live by your own values and not change for anyone. Doing things you do not want to do for others’ validation and approval will never truly feel right. 

Take it from me, remaining true to yourself will always be much more fulfilling in the long run. 

Hello! My name is Eliza Roach and I am a Design Major at the University of San Francisco. In my free time, I enjoy reading, writing, and coding as well as spending time with my family and friends. I am a huge foodie and have a weak spot for Japanese food. I have two pets, a mini Labradoodle named Aki and a Betta fish named Chad.
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