Here’s the thing, high school SUCKS. It wasn’t all bad, but it wasn’t all that great either…
I was never one of the cool kids (shocking, I know), and I didn’t aspire to be (even more shocking). I was quite happy marching to the beat of my own drum.
Unfortunately, high school is a place where you’re expected to conform, and if you don’t, you can guarantee there will be a whole host of people waiting in the wings, ready to make sure you fall into line, as I discovered at my second high school. Differences are not celebrated in high school, and I was branded an “eccentric hippie”. (Yes, someone actually called me this.) If anyone said this to me now, I would probably slow clap and roll my eyes, but when you’re an insecure 16-year-old at a new school, it makes you even more painfully aware of the fact you don’t fit in.
Isolated from my previous school friends, this was not a good time for me. One lunchtime, I came back from the bathroom to find my lunchbox up a tree. Yeah… Kids are great.
By the end of Year 11, I’d well and truly had enough. This resulted in me having a mini meltdown about going back to school during a family holiday in Hawaii. “I just want to graduate!” I wailed during dinner one night. “Why can’t it be over? I hate that school!”
To this day, I maintain it was two of the worst years of my life. I went from a Catholic all-girls school with liquid soap in the bathrooms to a co-ed public school with the layout of Alcatraz. I had to pack a bar of soap in my backpack! This princess was not loving life.
I question anyone who tells kids to enjoy school because it’s “the best years of your life”. Either they’ve never been or their life has sucked beyond belief since they left.
Also, I’m pretty sure they call it high school because you need to be high just to get through it. (I wasn’t, but I’m sure it would’ve helped…)
Having said all that, here is some useful advice for getting through it (you know, just in case you’re planning on going back, in which case, my advice is DON’T)…
You’re Not Alone!
High school is a shit time… but it’s a shit time for everyone! I guarantee it – no matter how put together someone might look on the outside, they’re dealing with their share of problems too. The good news is, it ends and then you’re free! (SPOILER ALERT: Life gets sooo much better!)
Give EVERYONE a Chance
Also file under “never judge”. While all the other kids headed to the back of the school bus (it was kind of an unspoken rule that the cool kids occupied the backseat), I saw a girl sitting by herself in a seat at the very front. She had her head down and she looked so sad. I sat down next to her and introduced myself. Her name was Sarah and she was in Year Seven, just like me. I’m so glad I decided to sit down next to her, because 20 years later, Sarah is still one of my best friends. She recently confessed that in those early days of high school, she used to cry at night because she was having such a shitty time. It broke my heart because Sarah is one of the best people I know.
Choose Your Friends Wisely
They can raise you up or tear you down. In my first week of high school, my only friend, Amie got sick and I somehow ended up sitting with the popular girls. They were nice enough, but I quickly realised we didn’t have that much in common. That was when I found Lea. At first it was just the two of us, but our friendship group slowly grew. And grew and grew… (By the time we were in Year 10, there were around 20 of us!) To this day, Lea is still one of my best friends. Sometimes I feel like she knows me better than I know myself.
Nurture Those Friendships
The day will come – sooner rather than later – when boys and life will get in the way, and you won’t see those friends nearly as often as you used to. Some of you will drift apart, but the people who are meant to stay in your life will still be there, and if you nurture those friendships, they’ll only continue to strengthen. Never take your friendships for granted!
Always Be Kind
There’s a great phrase: “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” I’m an expert at hiding behind a smile, but at my lowest, I’ve been curled up in a foetal position on my bedroom floor, sobbing uncontrollably and unable to pick myself up.
Stand Up to Bullies
It may sound harsh, but if you see somebody being bullied and you stand by and let it happen, you’re just as bad as the bully. It takes courage to stand up to them, but it shows strength and integrity. If you find yourself being bullied, try to have pity. Bullies are just people in pain, and they’re projecting this onto you. While it’s not an excuse, and it definitely shouldn’t be tolerated, it’s worth remembering that it’s not you, it’s them.
Don’t Worry Too Much About Dating
Despite what Glee and every second teen movie tells you, the popular kids are never going to date the nerds. It’s never going to happen. They stick to their own. Generally speaking, the popular kids tend to peak in high school anyway, so let them have their moment. Aim for a trombone player instead. In fact, don’t worry too much about dating at all – all that will come later. Your main aim is to make it out of high school without a teen pregnancy.
Finally, while I know it’s easy to cave into peer pressure, always stay true to yourself. Stand confident in who you are and what you believe – just being you is enough.