Saturday, January 4, 2014

Thoughts for my future high schooler

Having L. as a toddler right now, she's very happy with the world in general, I think. It's difficult to understand tantrums that come from things like not wanting to get dressed or not being able to fit a toy potato into a toy tea kettle because, in my head, if that's the worst part of your day, life's pretty damn good.

Me circa 1999 before our Sadie
Hawkins dance. Oh, the extreme
awkwardness of having to
ask a boy out!
It's difficult to imagine this child getting older and becoming immersed in a world of technology and dealing with social pressures that come with it. I can't imagine that added to the stress and anxiety that happens during the awkward high school years.

Even though it was more than 10 years ago, I still cringe a bit when I think of how every little thing that happened was so extreme within my own mind back then.

I wish I could impart to her what I wish I could have told my high school self. I'm pretty sure most, if not all of these, will still be relevant when L. is old enough to have to worry about such things:

  • Nobody is paying as much attention to what you're wearing or how you do your hair as you think. (However, if the photo above is any indication, just know you'll question what you were thinking later in life while looking through old photographs.)
  • Wearing baggy clothes does not hide your body. Wearing tight clothes doesn't make you a size smaller than you are. And if your butt crack or nipples show, you are not leaving the house.
  • Smile more.
  • Teachers are smarter than you give them credit for.
  • Not everybody is having sex, drinking, doing drugs, partying.
  • Saying "no" to things you aren't ready for doesn't make you a bad friend.
  • Sometimes you need to disengage so you can realign your priorities.
  • You're allowed to be wrong. And you should be big enough to admit mistakes.
  • Keep your promises. People remember, despite them not saying anything.
  • There's nothing wrong with being a late bloomer. Those in your grade who look much older and perfect have already peaked, believe it or not. 
  • You will not believe the last piece of advice until your high school reunions, which you should go to because they are a lot of fun.
  • Don't hold grudges. They're not worth it.
  • Don't be afraid to try new things. You never know what may really grab you and fascinate you.
  • My friend Rachel and I knew each other since our
    freshman year, when this weird photo was taken.
    Like all friendships, we had disagreements and even
    periods in which we weren't on speaking terms.
    We remained friends after high school and college,
    then became pregnant within weeks of each other.
    She is not my maid of honor and I can't imagine
    my life without her.
    Focus on those who like you, as opposed to wasting energy on those who don't.
  • Have a healthy outlet. Something creative, something physical, something mental, anything. Between all the hormones and the stress, keeping everything inside is a recipe for disaster.
  • My expectations are only that you put in your best effort.
  • Don't become a walking billboard for brand names and cheaply-made clothing.
  • I will stay up waiting for you, I will worry about you, I will ask you questions about your life. It's not because I want to judge, it's because I care about you.
  • You're going to have to fight a lot of your own battles. You're going to win some and you're going to lose some. That's not always as important as how you handle yourself in those battles.
  • If it wasn't said to you, if it didn't happen to you, if you weren't involved in it, it's not your problem. You can still be a good friend and a sympathetic listener, but once you involve yourself in matters that don't pertain to you, you're only making it worse.
  • An online or phone conversation cannot take the place of a real face-to-face interaction.
  • You won't need to remember every single thing you learn in high school, but having a working knowledge of a lot of things does help out in the future in ways you might not think.
  • You can always use me as an excuse if you don't want to do something your friends are doing. I don't mind being the "bad guy," as long as you feel you're making the right decision for you.
  • If you must succumb to using trendy slang, whatever the 2020s-versions of "totes," "feels," "OMG," "lol," "jk," "syke," and using "like" after, like, every other, like, word, be cognizant of when the right times are to use this vernacular and, more importantly, when it is not the right time. Your slang is not, for example, appropriate for professional emails, school work, thank you cards to your family or when you're trying to win an argument with your copy editor mother.
I saw a Pinterest post a few days ago with the phrase, "parent your child today with the person she's going to be in the future in mind." So, if I can keep these lessons I want her to know before even setting foot in the door on her first day of high school, I would consider that an accomplishment.