Saturday, 19 July 2014

Dear high school students

Having finished my school experience I actually found myself lacking closure. There were people who I had only just started to get to know, and the thought that I would probably never speak to them again did make me a little sad. What I realised is that I, and these many other people, had spent so long playing the high school social game. But do I regret my experience? No, not a bit. My experience has been invaluable. I'm glad for every low, because I've at least learnt from them. I know those who still are going to go through high school for years to come will probably ignore the plethora advice coming their way, but this is just my way of summing up my high school experience, particularly the last two years of sixth form, for mainly myself. Here goes nothing.

Don't be embarrassed to work hard and be keen
I was one of the most 'extra-curricular' girls during sixth form. I was part of a fund-raising group, intergenerational volunteering, maths tutoring, girls' choir, sixth form choir, the sixth form newspaper and the school musical. Needless to say, whilst my friends spent most of their time socialising, I spent a lot of my lunch times singing or organising a bake sale. Ultimately, being a keen bee served me well. I'm continually told that my work ethic makes me incredibly employable, but I also enjoyed the fact that my extra-curricular pursuits meant I socialised with people beyond my enclosed group of friends, and I found that they were some of the people I actually had most in common with.

Have passions
Please, just. Passions make a person. There is nothing more interesting than a person who can talk fervently about a topic, even if you have no idea what they're talking about yourself. Having passions, however, is not the same thing as boasting about those passions. I've always found myself far more drawn to the secret pianist, than the guy who introduces himself as, 'Hello, I'm a rower'. There's a perfect balance to strive for.

Your friends don't have to be friends with each other
Sounds obvious, but I entered sixth form with a group of friends from my previous school, and we ended up trying to fit our group with another group. What did I learn? Something I should have already known. In different environments, different groups of friends form. Just because your friend might not be in the same 'group' as you anymore, it doesn't make them less of a friend. Having your friend's back when they might be struggling to be as sociable as you is obviously commendable, but expecting them to find the people you have befriended as invigorating as you do is just absurd. Let groups form naturally. Let people go.

You don't have to drink
You really don't. For most of sixth form I just never had a desire to drink, nevermind the fact that the thought of a fake ID and trying to flirt with a dodgy corner shop guy seemed a lot more effort than it was worth. So I quite simply didn't. People obviously asked why I wasn't drinking sometimes. The reasons I offered? Firstly, the cold 'I don't drink'; secondly, the 'I like to be in control'; and lastly, my favourite one, the one offered by a friend: 'She's too cheap'. What I learnt was no one really cared. If you have a group of friends who are seriously pressuring you into drinking or anything else, they're seriously exhibiting destructive character traits and you should be re-evaluating the kind of people you're calling friends. 

Quit being petty
Someone is going to annoy you. More often than not, it will probably be your friend. But more often than that, you're probably over reacting. Quit with the days of ignoring the friend who was unecessarily rude to you. You'll find yourself with the a worse reputation than the person who gave you reason to be frustrated. 

Don't live off of gossip
There's a difference between enjoying a bit of a gossip, and being a gossip. What may seem contradictory is the fact that gossips seem to continually have gossip. Surely people will have learnt their lesson the first time their secret was out? What is rarely considered, however, is that gosssips tend to know a person in terms of their most definable and scandalous actions, as opposed to the person themselves, and a person's character is honestly a lot more interesting than what they may or may not have got up to on Saturday night. Learn the line between informative and plain destructive.

Wear whatever you want
Sounds ridiculous, but it's true. I spent so much of sixth form trying to abide by unspoken dress codes. I found myself denying myself something of my character, because my wardrobe is part of my identity. Turns out, wearing a flapper dress out clubbing or a Audrey Hepburn inspired dress to a Christmas party caused more comments coming my way than sticking with the crowd. Who would have thought? Sometimes it's the obvious things you forget. 

Don't try to be something you're not
The previous point leads nicely into this one. The ultimate conclusion to any high school student's experience: be yourself. Honestly, what's the point in trying to be something you're not? Not only does it tend to cause a stir in the social corridors, with people calling those people 'fakes' and 'desperate', but it's genuinely just exhausting. You shouldn't spend your whole school life expecting everyone will like you, or accept you. People are fickle, even the most charming and lovely people have their haters. Be the person you want to be for your own satisfaction, as opposed to the person you think other people would like you to be. Just do it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment