It’s one of those weird realizations that you’ve actually hit adult status when you get an invitation to your 10-year high school reunion. I think I honestly forgot that I even went to high school but there the reminder was in the form of an invitation on Facebook that the people I went to school with were conjugating.
What I felt, though, when I got that invite was even more weird. I didn’t care. I don’t feel like I want to roll in there and tell people I haven’t talked to in 10 years what was going on with me. I also don’t want to waste their time making them pretend to care. I try to keep up with a select few people that I went to high school with and that’s good enough for me. There are people who will go to those things and be so happy to see each other. That’s what high school reunions are for, after all.
But since I left high school, I have learned so many amazing things and how really little impact your high school career has on the rest of your life.
One: Being creative or different doesn’t mean you’re weird
But you can be weird and creative and different if you want to. All I wanted to do in high school was fit in and have people think I was cool. Literally, it was all I wanted. Even now, sometimes I think I revert back to trying to be cool till I remember it doesn’t fucking matter. Not even a little bit. Be creative. Be different. Be you.
Two: You can redefine yourself after high school
I couldn’t really tell you who I was in high school, but I sure as hell can tell you who I am after it. I think when I was 15 I thought I had to be something I wasn’t in order to fit in. This goes back to my point of trying to be ‘cool.’ But after high school, I stopped with all of that shit. I was mean for no reason and thanks to a crippling anxiety disorder, I had verbal diarrhea. As an adult, I’ve realized how much more important it is to be a good person than it is to be ‘cool’ but I definitely still have the anxiety disorder and verbal diarrhea. I mean some things you can’t change.
Three: Sometimes karma doesn’t come
Let’s be honest, at some point in our high school career, we’re all fucking jerks. It’s because we’re all filled with these confusing hormones and stuck in a building with people we don’t like. The thing is, though, there are people who go above and beyond to make other people’s lives difficult. There are people who will try to inflict harm or not understand the use of the word ‘no.’ I wish I could stand here and tell you that those people get what’s coming to them, but sometimes they just don’t.
Four: High school is NOT the best years of your life
Not even fucking close. There are so many things coming your way that you will not even believe. When I was 16, I don’t think I envisioned the life I have now. I don’t think I would have ever seen myself as graduating college or living in three different countries or writing books or owning a business and a dog. I don’t think I saw a way out of high school, to be honest. I thought I was going to be stuck there forever and all of the choices I made back then would follow me forever. They didn’t. I thought the people who hated me would follow me around in life and still make fun of me. They don’t. Because high school is not the best years of your life, my dear, the best is on its way. I promise.
Five: Getting good grades matters for post-secondary life
I was the ultimate ringleader in blowing off classes. Partially thanks to my parents for living across the street from my school and the other part would be the fact that I really did not give a fuck about academics. I just wanted to hang out with the few friends I had and party. That’s all. But there are times I wish I had taken math past grade 11 and that I had paid a little more attention when I was in science class. I was lucky to get into university with the grades I got in high school. It’s just a lot easier to put in some effort while in high school so you don’t pay for it if you plan on attending post-secondary.
Six: Good friends will get you through anything
I did not have a lot of friends in high school. I had a few really amazing ones though. Even though I drifted apart from a lot of them, it doesn’t discount how fantastic of a person they were in my life back then. I’m sure they’re still amazing people. That small or big group of people who help get you through the toughest coming of age years of your life are important. Good friends are hard to find and when you find them, just focus on them and not the friends you don’t have.
Seven: Being pretty or smart or another adjective doesn’t define you
I wish I could get this through my head as an adult well into my 20s. I wish I could remember that just because people often refer to me as funny doesn’t mean that that’s all I am. I am a whole hell of a lot of other things but we tend to dwell on basic labels and let them rule everything. You can be pretty AND smart AND funny AND successful AND whatever the fuck else you want to be. Just don’t let yourself be defined by one thing; be every label you want.
Eight: Some people really do peak in high school, some people flourish after
I feel I have given a pretty accurate description as to who I was in high school; partier, kind of a jerk, trying to be cool, not that cool though. There were people in high school who were SUPER cool. They always looked good, had the best clothes, and definitely had parents who had money. They were also blessed genetically and somehow, they all found each other in the hallways and became a group. That’s just how I imagine gorgeous people find each other, but I could be wrong. Anyways, some people have the best years in high school and then after they find themselves lost. They had a well-defined role and breaking out of that into a new situation is scary. That fear holds people back so they don’t do much. After high school, the person I became was nicer, less self-conscious, successful, and loving. Some people find themselves outside of the walls of high school while others get stuck there.
Nine: Most people don’t marry the person they dated in high school
I know people who got married to their high school sweetheart and they are the happiest people I know. But it was weird in the first year of university when I kept hearing about couples I thought would get married, just break up. Suddenly the realization that most people don’t marry the person they dated in high school was incredibly accurate. Dating is one of those adventures that is exactly like whitewater rafting; sometimes it’s fun and sometimes it’s not. As an adult (as adult an 18-year-old is I guess), dating is a completely different ballgame. Our interests change and that means that we also change. This often leads to breakups when couples realize they’re not on the same page anymore. It’s sad but unfortunately the way it is.
10: High school does not matter
It doesn’t. It really, really doesn’t. If that’s one thing I could stress to any high school student out there struggling to get by and feel a purpose, it’s that. Life begins when high school ends. Period. High school is such a short period of time in your life even though it doesn’t feel like it when you’re in it. I used to laugh my parents off when they told me that high school doesn’t matter but now I fully agree. It does not matter. Remember that when you’re having a hard time. You will find you and people you love and everything else in between. Just get to graduation and never look back.
I sure as hell didn’t.