By Sanjana Chadive & Kevin Genthert
High school. We laugh, we cry, and we learn. As the second semester of our senior year rapidly approaches, the two of us can’t help but reflect on some of the most important lessons we’ve learned over the last four years. Although the list is seemingly endless, here are the most important ones we’ve taken away:
- Sometimes, things won’t go your way—and that’s okay
From a young age, we are told that, “hard work always pays off”. In reality, this saying should be rephrased as, “hard work always pays off in the long run.” There are countless instances where you can put in 110% effort into something, yet the result won’t follow, whether it be a test you’ve spent weeks studying for or an audition/tryout you’ve poured liters of your blood, sweat, and tears into. After all, a thousand things can go wrong on the big day. What’s really important, however, is not losing your sense of perseverance. It’s okay to be upset for a little while, but don’t let a bump in the road bog you down. From personal experience, we can affirm that hard work and resilience can take you places you might never have imagined. Take every failure as a learning experience. Don’t let them bring you down, as there is something much bigger in store for you.
- All good things come to an end…but so do the bad
Building upon our first point, we are all bound to face some challenges in high school. While you may believe your situation will only worsen, just know that it will eventually end. It might take days, perhaps even months. No matter how much time passes, things will get better. We urge you to embrace adversity, as it is the greatest character builder. Conversely, don’t get too caught up in victories & become prideful and complacent. Life is a roller coaster, so you have to go through both the ups and downs.
- Stay true to yourself
While this proverb may seem obvious, many teenagers tend to forget about it in favor of fitting in with the ‘larger crowd’. Such insecurity often leads to neglecting key values. For example, if all of your friends are cheating on an assignment, you don’t have to—and shouldn’t. Once you start cheating, you can’t stop. Sure, you may earn some short-term reward, but not after you graduate. This idea applies to all forms of dishonesty, not just academic. All it takes is just a few lies for you to lose your sense of self. Believe us, it can be challenging restraining yourself from behavior you otherwise wouldn’t…but it’s well worth it in the end.
- Things will change
Change – the ever impending, doom-implying, fear-inducing, kryptonite to humanity. Change is never easy, but it is inevitable. You will drift away from friends, find new hobbies, witness the downfall of something you used to enjoy, and watch as the people around you struggle or don’t struggle with problems of their own. Not many times in your life will you experience as much change as in high school, but the best – and sometimes only – way to deal with it is to stay on your toes. Socrates put it best when he said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Rather than focusing on what could have been if things had stayed the same, it will be a better use of your time to get used to the situations you’re in and finding the best in them.
- People will always judge you
Judgement is many things, but at its worst, it is a cancer of society – a way for us as humans to put ourselves above others and choose to see only the worst parts of each other. We have all felt the eyes of other people on us in a hallway, at the lunch table, sitting at a desk, or just minding our own business. Whether people are actually looking at you and actually processing you is debatable, but regardless, we are consciously aware of how something we are doing could bring about harsh judgement from our peers. This could be a haircut you got, clothes you’re wearing, the way you walk, and just about anything. The best way to think of situations like this is to recognize how you handle yourself. Most people will say that they hardly notice these traits in other people, but are still so afraid others take notice of it for them. That dives more into the philosophical side of things, but without getting too far into it, you need to know that while judgement will always be prevalent in the world, it is also nonexistent at the same time. It is hard to judge someone who carries themself with confidence and acts like themself wherever they go. Theodore Roosevelt puts it best in his Citizenship in a Republic speech, where he talks about how the judgement of a person should not be through the eyes of a critic, but through the perspective of the person in the arena, the person who knows what they have been through to get where they are.
- Character is built through hard work
If you are reading this, chances are that you have been a student in a High School 101 class, or at least heard the messages that Coach Ricci and the other teachers give you. We can assure you that the things that you learned in that class are not just something repeated and talked about for a project. They are foundations of a successful person, and a successful person starts with hard work. Some people may take this the wrong way and think we mean that you should spend hours a night studying and doing homework, but that is not what this means at all. There comes a point where working hard turns into routine, and is no longer hard work. You have to continually find ways to challenge yourself in your education, mentally, and physically. You should not challenge yourself to goals people like your parents or teachers have for you. The challenge should lie in a path set out to reach your ideal future self, a path paved with grit. Intelligence and natural ability can only get you so far in life, but with hard work you are truly limitless in the things you are capable of.