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April 30, 2022

What I Wish I Knew in High School: Advice from a Graduating Senior

By Wyatt S.
, 12th grade
, from Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Graduation Cap

I can’t believe I’ll be graduating high school in less than a month, and as I finish up my classes and think about moving on to college, I’ve also been thinking about how much I’ve learned about myself over the past four years.

If I could give advice to my former self (and to you, if you’re in high school), here’s what I would say:

  • You overestimate how much other people care about whatever your insecurity is. If you don’t like your body or skin or height, believe me, nobody is scrutinizing it the way you are. If you’re having a bad hair day, nobody cares or even notices. If you didn’t know the answer to something in class or keep thinking about the thing you said at lunch that sounded awkward, nobody else is thinking about it. If you embarrassed yourself in front of the person you have a crush on, nobody else is thinking about it. Basically, everyone is so busy worrying about themselves that they don’t have the time or interest to think about you as much as you do.
  • What seems like the most important thing in the world right now won’t matter that much (or at all) later. Junior year, I became completely freaked out about college. I felt like everything was riding on every quiz, test, paper, etc. and it got to the point that my mental health was suffering. College pressure is real, but what’s also real is that you’ll probably end up going to an amazing college. I was so fixated on one college that I lost all perspective and thought I could only be happy if I got into that college. Now that I know where I’m going (and it’s not that one college), I couldn’t be more excited. I realized that getting into that one particular college was much less important than I thought it would be. I did this a lot in high school, thinking that one thing (one person, one leadership position, one invitation to a party) meant everything and I’d be devastated if I didn’t have it. It turns out there are plenty of people, opportunities, and parties and no one thing should take on that much importance or cause that much anxiety.
  • Reach out, be real, and talk to people. It wasn’t until senior year when I realized that most people were going through the same things I was.aBy senior year, everyone becomes more real and open and supportive of each other and much more comfortable with who we are. But before senior year, we were all pretending we had it together and then felt like we were the only ones who didn’t. I wish we could have been this open and supportive earlier, because it would have made high school so much better.
  • Don’t take your parents for granted. One thing I would definitely change is I would be nicer to my parents. I realize now that while it’s normal to separate from them and become more independent, one day you’ll leave home and all of a sudden you’ll want to be around your parents. As graduation approaches and I think about how soon I’ll be living in another state, I wish I hadn’t gone straight to my room and closed the door when they wanted to see how my day was or have a quick conversation, because there are so many reasons I’ll miss them and I wish I had appreciated them more. (Cheesy, but true.) 

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