High school. You either love it, or you hate it, but once you get your diploma, none of the teenage drama that haunted you before will matter. You get to graduation, toss your cap in the air, and then what? Some of your friends are going to their dream schools. Others are traveling the world. Teachers continuously ask you what your plans are, but you do not quite have an answer. Is this you? If so, it is totally okay. You are not a failure, nor a disappointment. You are simply a teenager fresh out of high school trying to figure things out. I remember being bummed out my summer before college because I did not live up to the “expectations” of my high school. I was not going to college on a scholarship and continuing my athletic career. Instead, I was stressing over how to pay for school, and what people thought of me. I wish someone told me that life is not so black and white, and encouraged me to explore other paths. I promised myself that I would help the students I mentor to embrace the gray area of life, and here I present ten things I wish I knew when graduating high school.
1. College is not for everyone.
You do not have to go straight to college after high school, or ever, honestly. School just is not meant for everyone. Different people require different learning environments. However, if you do want to try higher education on a smaller scale, try community college. The first two years of university is nothing but high school 2.0. Going to a community college will allow you to take those prerequisite classes and transfer later if you decide to, and at a cheaper cost. Just make sure to research what credits and programs transfer to bigger schools.
2. “What is your major?”
“Ummm…” For those who decide to go to college, please know it is almost rare that students enter school knowing what they want to study and stick with it. It is okay not to know what you want your major to be. I have plenty of friends who started as bio majors and ended with history. It does not have to make sense to others as long as it makes sense to you and your goals.
3. Working is cool.
Finding a job does not take you away from your schooling and other goals. In fact, you are building and gaining experience that a lot of other young adults will not get until after college. Technically, you are ahead of the curve. Take all you can, soak it in, and apply it to your studies. We also have this ideology that we have to get bigger, more “adult” jobs, but that does not matter. Keep waitressing, delivering pizza and bagging groceries. Your minimum wage job will be just fine.
4. Learn a trade.
Going to trade school and becoming a craftsman will give you hands-on training for whatever field you decide upon. Basically, it is guaranteed money. I am a firm believer that everyone should do something, so if you are one that wants to go directly into a field, look more into trade schools.
5. Stop comparing yourself to others.
This is one of the hardest things to do. I mean, how could I not compare myself to the next person? We get lost in the transition, and never accomplish our goals because we are too busy trying to achieve someone else’s. Unfortunately, our generation competes for what social media portrays and what people want to show us. Just focus on you and finding yourself. Take breaks from social media, and see how much your point of view changes.
Everyone says to do it while you are young, and they are right. Travel before you are bound by adulthood and what comes with it – family, jobs, etc. You would be amazed at what is out there, which is why you have to immerse yourself in all the world fully has to offer. No Instagram, Twitter or taking photos of every little thing. Put the phone down and learn. Many times, people do not go to school, but instead, use the world as their classroom. There are quite a few programs that help students/young adults travel the world and go to schools around the world.
7. Be involved.
Whether you are in school or just working a 9-to-5, get out and have a presence in your community. Take your passion and try to meet the needs of those around you through community service or extracurricular activities.
8. Be inquisitive.
It is okay to ask questions. It does not make you any less intelligent. Instead, you seem more interested in others. Ask, and you shall receive.
9. Save your money, honey. I cannot stress this enough.
Learn how to budget and save. If you do this while you have no extra responsibilities, it will help when you want to start investing in homes and businesses. You will thank me in the long run.
10. Relationships come and go.
That is just the way life goes, and some relationships are not worth saving. Losing friends is not the end of the world. You will create new relationships before you know it. On the other end, there are friendships that will never end but will look different. Not being able to see that person or talk 24/7 does not take anything away from your relationship, people are just growing up now.
There is so much to live for once you graduate high school, but do not rush whatever path you are on because you think you “want to be an adult” (this should be bonus tip #11). Explore all that life has to offer. No matter what, anything can be accomplished with hard work and passion. Your journey to your final stages is uniquely yours, and that is fine.