My high school reunion is coming up on Saturday.  It doesn’t matter what year, and no, I don’t have to say my age.  I graduated from a small, rural high school in the south.  With the reunion fast approaching, I started thinking about high school and growing up in general.  As you grow, you change (hopefully).  At this point, high school seems like several lifetimes ago.  I wouldn’t recognize that girl from way back when that just wanted to get her diploma and get out of the fish bowl of a tiny town for life in the wild blue yonder.  I wouldn’t recognize her at all – she was so naive, so insecure, so impressionable, and so clueless.  I decided to make a list of some of the things that I wish my 17 year old self would have known.  Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda….

The hair!


1.  First of all, life is going to change, like a million times.  Nothing is going to turn out the way you think it is going to.  Learn today to roll with the punches and adapt.
2.  Don’t get stuck on one boy or one girl.  If this is the only piece of advice you take, TAKE IT.  Girls mature way faster than boys and 99% of boys (yep, boys) in high school are ridiculous.   Your entire life is ahead of you, the rest of your life; do you want to be strapped to like the very first one?  NO, YOU DON’T.  The percentage of people that marry someone they knew since they were young is 2%.  2%! (  There is plenty of time for serious relationships later.  Date occasionally and spend time with your friends and focus on your future.  Don’t get mired down in high school love shit (sorry, but the adults reading this know I’m right).
3.  On that same note, realize your worth as a person right now.  This minute.  Do not allow anyone you date to dictate your self esteem or what you think about yourself.  Do not allow them to project their feelings of inadequacy onto you.  YOU ARE WORTH SO MUCH MORE.  I see so many especially girls stay in dead end relationships with dead beats at young ages because they don’t know better and think this is what love is.  Love makes you feel happy.  At any point in a teenage relationship that you aren’t having fun, you are being abused, or the partner makes you feel anything but positive about yourself – WALK.  Actually, I mean RUN.  
4.  Life is going to be hard and it is full of disappointments.  It isn’t all disappointments, but they’re there.  The graduation speeches are full of such hope and promise.  Yeah, life is good, but don’t buy into the bubble gum and candy either.  People will die, you won’t get that job, or you may get sick.  It happens.  Be mentally ready to accept it.
5.  You will have to work very hard to get what you want.  Sometimes you will have to bleed.  Well, maybe not real blood, but work until you are completely exhausted and then get up the next day and do it again, for years.  But – your reward is knowing you earned something yourself.  Your reward is knowing you can. 
6.  If you’re a girl, double #5.  I’m not a raging feminist, but you have to work harder than the boys, especially if you want to earn the same and get the same promotions.  It’s just life.
7.  Surround yourself with people you can trust.  If you can’t trust the people closest to you, life is going to be very hard to navigate and sometimes very hard to bear.  Cut the people that are two-faced or backstabbing out of your life like nasty mold on cheese.  If you don’t immediately get rid of it, the entire block is going to be ruined.  Walk away. 
8.  Treasure your loved ones.  Listen to your parents and grandparents.  I mean listen to their stories, their advice, their experience.  Take what you will from what they say and apply it to your life and what works for you – but the lesson comes in the listening.  Maybe someone dealt with a situation you will face someday.  There will be small nuggets of wisdom given to you from the people you love.  The trick is in the listening to hear and apply the knowledge.  
9.  Your teens are just a cluster of insecurity and getting into college.  Your twenties are for figuring out who you really are and where you’re going.  Your thirties are for resting in the knowledge that you’re gonna be okay.  Nobody ever has it all together, so be sure to give yourself a break when the failures come.  
10.  Life will not adhere to the timeline in your mind.  If you think you’ll be married, working, have kids, etc. at a certain age – you probably won’t.  People, even your friends around you, may achieve certain milestones before you do.  It’s okay.  It doesn’t mean you’re a failure.  If anyone around you implies you’re a failure because of some bullshit imaginary timeline – see #7.  Cut them out….like North & South Korea…no more talking.
11.  Don’t be so hard on yourself.  You are an awesome being with significant worth.  Who you are is much more important than what you look like.  Spend more time worrying about how you treat others and being a person with integrity than working on your weight, your hair, or what you wear.  People are dying and starving every single day, living in war zones, or other horrible situtations – don’t be that plastic or superficial person.  Don’t be that girl.  Just don’t.

12.  You have almost no answers right now, you may think you do, but you don’t.  You will though.  You will figure it out.  You will find what works for you.  You will be happy.  You will!  Life is good and it will be good.  You so have this!

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