I’ve been thinking for a while that it’d be fun to do a post about high school and what I’ve learned from it, now that I am officially graduated. What I didn’t realize is that it would be much harder than I expected. I initially planned to write some tips and tricks to help current students, but I realized nothing I had to say was of value. In order to really share some insight, I’d have to get personal. And vulnerable. Something I’ve never really done on the blog before (and that scares me). So without further ado, here are some honest reflections on the four “best years of your life” (psh, yeah right) that can still be applied long after graduation.
Learn to give second chances. I played soccer my freshman year, and during summer trainings I recognized a girl my age who would be attending the school. The reason I remembered her was because I had played her during club soccer in the past…and she was very good…and very intimidating. In my head, I already decided I didn’t like her—I guess just because her stern face and because I feared her as a player. But on the first day of school, she found me in the lunchroom with a big grin on her face. She asked if she could hang out with me because she didn’t know anyone else. Of course I let her, perhaps a bit begrudgingly, but I’m so glad I did. That girl and I are now best friends.
There was a different girl freshman year whom I got to know a little better before deciding I very strongly disliked her. And she felt the same about me. And we always made sure the other knew it. Ah, so long, petty high school drama. (It seems so laughable now.) What I didn’t expect was to be friends with that same girl by the end of senior year! It’s true what they say about people changing a lot during high school. Sometimes for the worse (ugh) and sometimes for the better. Just because you had a spat with someone in the early stages of your four years, doesn’t mean she–or YOU–are the same person now.
While those two stories have happy endings, I also had a lot of experiences where I gave people second chances and had it backfire. It’s like the box of chocolates Forrest Gump’s mamma used to talk about: you never know what you’re gonna get. Looking back, even on the times it didn’t work out so great, I’m glad I learned to give people second chances. I benefitted much more from forgiveness than from grudge-holding.
I was happier without social media. I didn’t create an Instagram account until late summer between my sophomore and junior year, when I started this blog. Before then, I thought it was silly, I felt it was a waste of time, I didn’t understand the craze, and my mom didn’t want me involved in any social media. However, I had done tons of research for my blog about marketing, and I knew I would have to start some form of media if I wanted any traffic on my site.
After creating my Instagram, I quickly noticed a change in myself. Even though my account held the sole purpose of promoting my blog, I still followed a bunch of people and spent far too much time scrolling through my feed (admittedly, not much has changed two years later). I found myself starting to compare myself to others, whether that be people at my school who went on extravagant trips or the gorgeous, picture-perfect lives of other fashion bloggers…I felt jealous. And when it came to my blog specifically, I experienced a lot of frustration that other teen bloggers just like me were growing their handles rapidly, while I was stuck at the same stagnant growth (something I still struggle with). I saw my friends post pictures of fun things they did together…Why wasn’t I invited to that? Why did you do a Happy Birthday post for that other girl and not me, your best friend?…I felt left out a lot. Hi, my name is Grace, and I suffer from FOMO…Even features on the direct messaging, like knowing when someone has read your message or when a person was last active on Instagram, makes you wonder: why didn’t they message me back? Why are they on Instagram but not responding to my texts? ‘Cause you know we all use social media to do a little stalking…;-)
Either way, I realized I was much happier before I got an Instagram account: for me, social media seemed to open a whole new realm of self-consciousness and doubt. At one point, I even created a separate personal account to post pictures of my friends and me. I felt the need to showcase the highlight reels of my own life because everyone else was doing it. Sad, I know. I have since deleted that account, but I continue to use my blog’s Instagram. It is my number one source of traffic, after all! The irony. 😉 You can read more about my complicated relationship with Instagram if you’re curious as to why I still use it.
But if you don’t have social media yet, I’d encourage you not to get it. Maybe I’d even encourage you to delete it if you do have it. I just haven’t found much good to gain from social media (especially when you’re already a procrastinator–I didn’t even mention how much my productivity and focus dropped once I signed up for Insta).
I never drank, went to parties, or did any other typical “high school student things”. I would say that I had a pretty unconventional high school career. While High School Musical and Disney Channel never showcased the real behind-the-scenes of those four years, most other movies did. And you probably know the sort of stuff I’m referring to (just think of the talks your principal gives you before prom—“Make good decisions” and stuff like that).
Because I chose to never participate in any of those activities, I felt very lonely during high school. I seemed so different from everyone else and like an outcast; sometimes I felt like I should give in to peer pressure just so I could fit in. Obviously, it’s difficult feeling alone, especially when you don’t match the high school norm. The hardest part for me is not being able to surround myself with like-minded individuals; it can be really hard to find people who share the same values as you, perhaps even impossible. And it hurts even more to learn that people you care about do things you don’t approve of. I think that’s the loneliest feeling of all.
My dad recently told me something really useful: you can’t change how other people act, you can only change your own feelings (I’m sure he stated it much more eloquently than that). I like spending time with people who are different from me—that’s what makes life interesting. But when it comes to the values and beliefs most important to me, I want to surround myself with people who share those same views. Unfortunately, I’m learning that just isn’t possible. I can’t change how other people act or what has happened in the past, so I have to change my own feelings. You should never give up on your beliefs to appease others. However, you can choose to not let it get to you. That’s what I’m trying so hard to learn. I’ve spent so much time feeling anxious, lonely, and really sad because people I care about choose to do things that make me really uncomfortable. But instead, I should really focus on myself and how to not feel that way, rather than granting so much power to other people’s actions and something out of my control.
It’s a work in progress. And I think it always will be, for the rest of my life. So just try really hard to remember next time something annoying happens, someone disappoints you, or you feel shitty because of someone else’s actions: you control how you react to the situation. You are in charge of your own happiness.
Learn to forgive your past fashion mistakes. Since this is such a heavy and serious post, I had to add a little humor! I had some bad fashion choices in the early stages of high school, and I’m guessing you have/will as well. Just be thankful you’ve come to your senses and can now put together a real outfit. There’s always hope for your style! 🙂
I used to want to keep my blog solely about light-hearted fashion, but I thought I’d try something new today. If sharing my experiences about high school could help just one person (even beyond high school–these lessons are universal), then I know this post would have been worth it (and not so embarrassing! Haha). If you want to talk about anything I wrote today or just anything at all, feel free to leave me a comment, DM me on Instagram, or head to the contact tab at the top of this website. Even though high school wasn’t quite like the movie musical, it certainly is fun if you make it. Have a wonderful weekend!
Miles of smiles,
P.S. Please excuse the random New York photos. Even though I’m not in school anymore, I still found a way to procrastinate and avoid taking pictures yesterday. At least the outfit seems high school appropriate—comfy and casual. 🙂
Hooded Grey Sweater: hand-me-down // Pleather Jacket: A.N.A. via JCPenney, $62 // Skinny Jeans: A.N.A. via JCPenney, $25 // Blush Quilted Sneakers: Steve Madden via DSW, $60 // Black and White Sunglasses: Charming Charlie, $7 // Elephant Crossbody: Francesca’s, $20