Hindsight is 2020, and I’m still saying it 3 years later (hardy har har).
We all know that it’s much easier to understand what’s happened to you once you’ve already experienced it, and having the guidance written in this article would’ve really helped me back then, especially since I didn’t grow up with guidance of my own.
While 10 years ago for me was when I was just starting high school, I’ve tried to make the advice in this article applicable to both kids and teens in school as well as adults.
Without further ado, here are 10 things I wish I knew before walking through the doors of high school.
1. If your friends don’t act like friends, they’re not your friends.
Plain and simple. Actions speak louder than words.
Most people knew my name and face in school, and there was a point where I had pretty solid bonds with a number of my peers. I had some friends at some point.
But over time, I tried to cling to these friendships as these people drifted away from me and started to act “too cool” and “too popular” to hang out with the likes of me.
If they don’t show appreciation for your company, and if they don’t treat you like a friend, don’t hold onto them. They’re not your friends.
2. If your friends hurt you or betray your trust, there’s a chance they’ll do it again.
Stay wary and cautious. Once bitten, twice as shy.
Some people don’t intentionally cause you harm, and sometimes, people lie without meaning to hurt you.
However, true and meaningful friendships should not have unusually rocky or frequent obstacles. More importantly, healthy relationships are built on a foundation of trust.
If someone doesn’t have your back now, how do you know they’ll have it when you need them the most?
If someone hurts you and they’re aware of it but they don’t seek to make amends with you, find new people to have in your corner.
3. Stay in constant “edit mode” of your social circle.
People come and go in your life. The only permanence is impermanence.
Fights happen. Breakups happen. Wonderful people bump into you after you spill your coffee on them. Your newest classmate ends up being best man at your wedding.
The human beings you share this planet with can arrive and depart from your life in a myriad of ways. Some people should have a spot to stay in your life while others should go. You need to be open to both outcomes for every person you encounter.
You are the boss of who you surround yourself with. Hire, fire, and promote people accordingly.
4. Your academic performance isn’t everything.
Let’s take a break from people and talk about school.
Be aware of the fact that society still tends to bottleneck people down this path of academic achievement, and if you’re growing up in a culture that’s similar to the one I grew up in, you’re probably brainwashed into thinking that if you fail at school, you’ll fail in life.
I’m not saying to not care about your education and to do poorly just because academic performance isn’t everything, but you should also understand that if calculus and chemistry are not your fortes, that doesn’t make you a lost cause.
There are plenty of people out there who don’t do well in or drop out of school like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg who still went on to accomplish great things.
How well or poorly you do in school isn’t everything. Success has an infinite amount of definitions and acing school is only one of them.
5. Hard times don’t last forever.
Hold onto your hope no matter how bleak things may seem.
I know what it’s like to feel like there’s no way out and that a bad situation is never going to end. I know what it feels like to not even think there will ever be a way out, or that you won’t make it to the end.
The last two years of high school were the roughest in my youth, and I didn’t think I’d be able to make it to the other end of it. Sheer willpower and believing I owed a good ending to myself fueled me to press onward, but I wish I had someone who could reassure me with utmost confidence that everything was going to be okay in the end.
It is my hope that these words can help convince you that your hard times only last forever if you let them.
Ghosts from your past don’t have to haunt you. Look for the light at the end of the tunnel and don’t lose sight of it.
Your future self will be thanking your present self for not giving up.
6. Not everything you ever lose is bound to be a loss.
This is a quote from one of my favorite poems ever written, courtesy of Erin Hanson.
It was her poems that got me through my aforementioned rough period of high school, and this line from one of the poems will stick with me for the rest of my life.
Some things in your life, especially people, remove themselves from your life no matter how much you want them to stay.
Be open to the concept that certain things and people in your life do not need to stick around if they no longer serve you. And I don’t mean that in a “use people like tools” kind of sense.
This is similar to #3, but I really want to drive the point home that you should be aware of when you’re latching onto things that drain you and hurt you, so make sure you have the ability to let go of them when that happens.
7. Get in the habit of saving and investing your money early.
I’m no financial expert, but what I do know is that I was a pretty enthusiastic spender and a bad saver in my younger years.
I made some terrible financial choices as a young adult and almost ended up homeless at one point. It would’ve been good to have some savings to fall back on.
To the youngsters out there, I know you’re exposed to a lot of stuff these days that glorifies spending money and posing like you’re rich, but being financially responsible, as well as having the humility to not have to pretend like you have it all, is far more important.
Save up for your future and always have a backup plan if sudden financial disaster strikes. You’ll thank yourself later for building a safety net.
8. Don’t prioritize short-term gratification over long-term gratification.
Another bad choice I made when I was younger was that I wasted a lot of time on activities like playing video games instead of developing and producing tangible progress in my real life.
This applies to a variety of things, such as:
- Blowing your paycheck on material goods that will make you happy for the next couple of weeks at most.
- Playing video games day after day while doing nothing else.
- Scrolling through social media for hours instead of starting that side hustle you’ve always thought about starting.
On the other hand, if you sacrifice your present to build your future, you’ll have something going for you down the road, and depending on what it is you spend your time building, this could mean something like achieving financial freedom to travel.
9. Don’t give up on a long-term project or endeavor too soon.
I produced content on and off for six years.
I feel like if I stuck with it more consistently and honed my craft even more so during that time and afterward (instead of taking my indefinite hiatus), I would be in quite a different place right now.
Most things take a long time before they produce the kind of results you’re looking for. Whether you’re building a business, starting a blog, or launching a podcast, you can’t expect success immediately.
Even if you go at it for a year or two and you don’t see much growth, this doesn’t mean it’s a sign you should give up.
Don’t let yours be one of them.
10. Make your intentions clear and don’t be afraid to shoot your shot.
When it comes to dating, this isn’t easy to do right off the bat, but you gotta do it enough times to where you don’t fear rejection.
Starting out in my young adult life, I had pretty much zero dating experience. I would chicken out with cute girls by asking them to “hang out” instead of making my intentions clear from the get-go by asking if I could take them on a date.
Even after I spent a good amount of time with them, I was always too afraid to ever make a move.
Sometimes, people are more comfortable if they get to hang out with you first before they go on a real date with you and you should respect that, but my recommendation still stands that you should let somebody know that there’s a chance you want to be more than friends.
If you’re too scared to do this either from the start or very early on, you’re only serving to friend-zone yourself. Then you won’t get where you want to be.
Obviously, not everyone you’re romantically interested in is going to feel the same way about you, so maybe you’ll end up being just friends anyway.
But you won’t know that for a fact unless you shoot your shot.