As “Riverdale’s” Archie Andrews would say, “You haven’t known the triumphs and defeats, the epic highs and lows of high school football,” except replace high school football with post-graduation life. Since leaving behind the brick walls and (untucked) polo shirts, the two of us bleached our hair, drifted apart from some friends, found new ones and made our fair share of mistakes. Based on things we’ve learned from completing these post-high school rites of passage, here are four pieces of advice we would give to our high school selves:
- Plans change and that’s okay
As the saying goes, man plans, God laughs. The last few months of high school especially seem brim-ful of plans, from college majors and career paths to friendships and relationships. You might start college knowing exactly what you want to study, which clubs you want to join or which sorority you want to rush. If you’re lucky, maybe half of those plans will come to fruition no matter how well-thought your plans may be. You might take a class in a different department from your intended major to satisfy a requirement and end up switching from pre-med to history. Maybe you’ll realize playing the violin was only something you did for college applications and decide to forgo college orchestra. As post-high school life upends your plans, try to keep an open mind, and most importantly, be kind to yourself.
- Self-care means more than just face masks
Learn to prioritize yourself and your health, both physical and mental. College can make that seem difficult given the constant pressure to study, go out with friends, work or fulfill other obligations on a seemingly endless list. This lifestyle can devolve into burnout unless you actively make time for self-care. Eat food that makes you feel good. Carve out time in your day to move around, which could mean anything from spending time at the gym to going for a quick walk. Sleep for at least 8 hours whenever possible. In doing so, however, remember that self-care also means prioritizing your mental health. Learn to say no to others when you need a break, and check in with your support network whenever you need to. The world will demand a lot from you, but to fulfill those demands, make sure you take care of yourself first.
- Literally no one cares about your PSAT score
Back in our day, we spent almost 3 hours 4 times a week after school sitting in classrooms doing hundreds of practice tests. It was quite a lot of effort to put into 1 test score; one that felt like it determined our lives. Now looking back, it seemed quite ridiculous how many of us spent nights doubting ourselves and freaking out over not making a perfect score. Don’t put yourself down if you don’t end up making the National Merit threshold. It may be a lot of pressure as Heritage produces so many national merit scholars each year; but, remember that you are not your PSAT score. The amount of work you’ve done to maintain grades and commit to different clubs on campus shape you into an individual that stands out to colleges. PSAT scores are great for scholarships, but there are also so many scholarships colleges offer regardless of PSAT scores. In reality, the PSAT doesn’t define you, and at freshman orientation, if you introduce yourself by mentioning your PSAT score, you might find yourself short of friends.
- Relationships are a two-way street
You would never think that the last time you’d see some of your friends would be at your high school graduation. It’s a reality you don’t really imagine until you’re a year into college and you realize you haven’t talked to one of your closest friends from high school in months. It’s important to put in the work to maintain friendships that are dear to you; however, make sure it’s reciprocated. We’ve learned in college that some relationships aren’t meant to last, and that’s ok. You and your friends will probably change and grow as people in college and gain new interests. Upholding a friendship where you are the only one trying to communicate and make plans can be mentally draining and exhausting. Learn to let go of relationships that don’t service you anymore.
The two of us never expected to write another article for The Patriot Post, and predictably we’re submitting this late. We’ll take our own advice, however, and go easy on ourselves. Ultimately, we hope that if readers take anything from this article, it’s to be kind to yourself, keep your mind open and try not to take yourself too seriously.
Signing off for (probably) the last time,
Amber and Angela