As a senior in high school I remember feeling more stressed than I have ever felt before. More worried about what others thought of me. More overwhelmed by decisions I had to make. There were all these events that I needed to have a date, the best dress, the best hair, be the most outgoing, be in the popular group. Or there was the pressure of going to the best college with the biggest football team or best sororities/fraternities. Or just the day to day of having to have a nice car, designer clothes, always having your hair done, always being ‘okay’. As you read that, does it hit home?
Maybe you have those same feelings or a variation of them. Maybe you just feel overwhelmed, anxious, excited. Whatever feelings you have, I get it and I empathize with you. I’ve been there. There are so many things I wish I could tell my senior self to help her through this time. Here’s some advice from past graduates of what they would tell themselves as a senior. I hope they help ease some of the emotions you might be feeling right now.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
There's so many things that get thrown in your face now. You have social media showing you what your friends and famous people are doing, wearing, expressing. Then you have influencers that share how you could be like them by doing x,y, and z. All these areas place doubt in your head and you start comparing yourself to them. That comparison then starts to eat at your confidence and you start feeling like you aren’t good enough. You lose your joy of life. Comparison truly robs your joy. Each person has their own strengths and weaknesses. Things that work for them and things that don’t. Find your strengths, what makes you happy, and what works for you and hold onto those. Try not to compare yourself!
You don’t have to be ‘perfect’. BE YOU.
Daily you put so much pressure on yourself to be perfect. Not to show emotions. To always be put together. To have the most friends. That pressure you feel takes away from the real you. Being vulnerable and showing others your true colors actually brings you closer to them. Trust that the right people will accept you for you. And know that there is no such thing as perfect. There is just you and you are enough just the way you are.
Don’t sweat the small things, trust the path you're on.
It’s okay to make mistakes. You are learning the world and where you want to be in this world. Those mistakes help you grow into the strong, independent, beautiful women you become. The mistake you might be caught up on, in the long run, doesn't matter. You learn from it, grow, and trust that you needed that to catapult you further in life.
You have more to live for than just high school.
Right now, high school feels like your world. You are constantly trying to find out who you are as your own person, but are concerned about fitting in as well. The worry of what your friends think of you weighs heavy on you. If you have a bad hair day, it probably feels like the end of the world. But, once you graduate none of that will matter. There is more to life than high school! You have so much more life to live. And this life gets better, I promise.
Say hello or smile at someone new each day.
With a big high school you might feel like your name or face gets lost in the crowds. That people don't know who you are or care about you. That feeling impacts the mental game you play with yourself. So, please say hi or smile at someone new each day. You never know how that simple action can impact someone’s day. Treat others how you want to be treated. Those actions will one day come back to you and you never know, you might just make your new best friend along the way.
You will get knocked down, but you will always find a way back up.
Each time you get knocked down, you will find yourself stronger than you were before. You’ll fight heartbreaks, injuries, loss of friends, event changes, the list could go on. But after you encounter these, you'll be on the other side stronger, more wise, more empowered. Know that these knock downs all have a greater purpose and are only going to help you down the road.