As you know (because I haven’t shut up about it), I graduated from high school a few months ago. That’s a weird sentence to type, because it feels like it’s been both a much longer and a much shorter time than that. I’m leaving for college in a little less than a month and while I’m not moving out in the technical sense, I’ll be spending my weekdays and, hopefully, some awesome weekends, an hour away from my house.
I’m nervous, of course. I’m sure my parents are as well, but they’ve done a great job of not stressing me out about it and I have to hand it to them there. But I’m also excited. Cue the cheesy “new beginning” theme music here. I can’t say I miss most of high school, and I don’t mean that in a “haha, good riddance!” way so much as an “I’m ready to move forward” way. But there was a lot of fun to be had, and there are a few (well, more than a few, but that list would take up the entire paper) things I wish I’d known sooner.
Maybe I’ll find myself writing an equally long list about what I wish I’d known before college four or five years from now. Only time will tell, but chances are I probably will. I do enjoy a good list, after all. So without further ado, here are my tips, my advice, and my “wisdom” for the younger crowd. Enjoy!
1: Don’t worry too much about what other people are wearing. By that, I mean don’t write someone off as a “prep” (and I cringe at the frequency with which I tossed that word around in middle school) or a “jock” or a “basket case” or a “princess” or a “person who shamelessly shoehorns Breakfast Club references into her articles.” All in all, don’t worry about other people’s style too much. Trust me, I missed out on a lot of great friendships that way and I’m glad I figured this out when I did.
2: Do outlandish things with your clothes or hair, if you want to. Sure, you might look back at your yearbook photos and think you look ridiculous, but I can almost guarantee you won’t regret the fun you had putting that outfit together.
3: Don’t act like you’re too good for things. Say yes to things you wouldn’t normally do. Even if you realize they’re not for you, at least you tried.
4: Do not turn down any opportunities for extra credit. Just don’t. I mean it.
5: Go out of your way to be especially nice to different people at least a few times a week. It matters, it really does.
6: Don’t get caught up on people who try to hurt you. You’re better than that.
7: Don’t say things about people if you think you might regret it (am I sounding like your mom yet?).
8: Study for tests, work hard, and don’t act like school doesn’t matter, but it’s 1,000 percent okay to take a break. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Don’t worry too much about being perfect.
9: Don’t procrastinate unless American Horror Story is on. Then it’s fine.
10: Finally, be true to yourself no matter what. There’s nothing wrong with trying to impress people (and in some cases, it’s a very good idea), but don’t, don’t, don’t let your happiness depend on someone else’s approval. I’m definitely sounding like your mom now.
Hannah Barger is a recent Wilson Central High School graduate and plans to attend Tennessee Tech University in the fall and major in journalism.