High School Doesn’t Have to Suck & Other Advice

High School Musical cast

From the day I entered elementary school, I was dreaming about being a teenager in high school. High School Musical and Hannah Montana made me believe that high school was all about driving to cool places, spending weekends with friends at the beach and living a fun, carefree life. Here’s the problem: gas is expensive, I don’t live near a beach and I care too much to be carefree. When I finally entered freshman year, my magical high school dream came to a sudden halt. It felt as though I went from a fun, bubbly kid to a self-conscious teen within seconds. The girls had nicer hair, they were thinner, they wore makeup and then there was me- a kid. Within a decent amount of time, I  made a group of friends and things started looking better (still no High School Musical though, where was all the lunchtime singing?).

Still no High School Musical though, where was all the lunchtime singing?

My AP Government teacher suggested I should join a club. A cute senior dragged me into speech and debate, and of course I agreed to join. Cute senior, remember? I went to the meetings and sat in the back thinking “oh god what do I do?” I thought the kids there were weird. The “speech” kids (students that focus on the speech events including dramatic interpretation) were loud and the debaters were scary. The cute senior told me to pick an event at random and try it out. I went to a tournament. I lost. I got last place. But wait! Losing was what drove me to keep going— I had something to prove, not only to the cute senior but also to myself. I was awkward, soft-spoken and shy at first, but once I found myself in the community, my voice spoke for itself and I made new friends that I have stayed with through high school. I tried other clubs including cross country, but I hated running; gastronomy, but I didn’t know the difference between a zucchini and a cucumber; and even club volleyball until I got hit in the face. The one thing I knew I could do was speak. Classes got harder and kids got ruder as the year progressed. Upperclassmen told me that I was just a freshman, hang in there, things change. Things didn’t change. I changed my perspective and that made a world of a difference.

I changed my perspective and that made a world of a difference.

Sophomore year hit me before I could even comprehend that freshman year was over. Days became shorter, classes got longer and sleep became ever so much more valuable. I made the questionable decision to take 6 advanced placement classes.  I quickly learned that stress was a thing. I chose the AP route because of this mysterious college application thing I figured I would one day have to do. I spent my days flustered over what I had to accomplish, yet typically achieving next to nothing. Had I simply sat myself down and made a list of all the things that need to be done, how they would be done, and when I needed to finish them, I likely would not have been a stressed mess. But hey, at least I was well dressed. Disorganization was my worst enemy,  but laziness became my best friend.

Junior year was by far the most difficult. However I learned more than I thought I possibly could, both about myself and the world. The ACT and SAT were creeping up on me and I still had no idea what they were good for. I had another absurd number of AP classes, proving the theory that we forget pain after it’s gone. I even played 2 competitive sports, but none of that mattered, I felt more  alone than ever. I put my grocery-list of activities ahead of my friends. If I could go back and change one thing, it’s sacrificing my friends for an impressive resume for a college application. The best moments from high school that I have made so far are the ones that involved my friends, even prom which was a whole new level of awkward (story for another time).

Take away? Here’s a quick list of tips, tricks and advice for all Metiza Girls headed to high school

Join a club and get involved with your school. It’s what everyone says, yet ironically it’s true. It helps you meet new people and connect with your school in a way that you’ll get to tell your kids about. You find your tribe, and that’s priceless.

1. Don’t gossip. I cannot stress this enough, rumors fly.

2. Manage your load in a way that you know you can handle. Don’t try to get one hundred things done in an hour.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If there is something you’re struggling with, you’re not alone and there is someone that will know how to help you.

4. Get a planner and USE IT. This helps you remember what’s on your mental to do list.

5. Make time for yourself. I used to neglect my needs because I thought I had something more important to do but frankly, you should always be in your list of priorities.

6. I complained about high school through every part. High school is a hard time in everyone’s life, but it’s what we make it. In the words of Hannah Montana, “life’s what you make it so let’s make it right.”

7. Wake up with a smile, knowing you can make a difference both within yourself and within your community.

Cover image via seventeen.com.