Dear High School Me...

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Reflection is a healthy part of growth in life. When we look back to our pasts & take a close look at who we used to be, not only do we see how far we've come but we can recognize the most important parts of the journey. Reflection allows us to learn from everything that life has either handed us politely or thrown quite forcefully at us. With that in mind, here are two of the Choctawk bloggers' takes on their high school selves in the form of letters.

Emmy:

Dear high school me,
I want to first off say that I wouldn't change a thing about my life so far. Every little thing, good, bad, & in between, has made me who I am today. Each aspect of high school & college so far has shaped my character, personality, & identity in general. But even though I wouldn't change anything at all, there are a few things that I sometimes wish I had known back where you are now, things that may make life just a bit easier. Here are a couple of those things:

One of the most important things to remember is that it's never the end of the world when you make a mistake or mess up. It definitely isn't pleasant to forget about a test or play a terrible basketball game (both of which you will do before high school is over), but there is more to life than mistakes. Don't let your mistakes define you, but do allow them to grow you. Learn about yourself in the way you deal with the mistakes you make. Own them & they won't own you. 

On a lighter note, take care to live in the present. It may be near impossible to avoid looking forward to something in the future (the state track meet, prom, graduation, etc.), but do your best to fully be where you are. Everything comes at its own pace, so let it come when it comes. Don't miss out on the lives of the people around you & don't miss opportunities to glorify God in the specific moments He's given you in high school.

Speaking of the people around you, I know a lot of people say sometimes that the friends you make in college, not in high school, are your real life-long friends, but I don't believe that for a minute. Three years in college has introduced me to tons of new friends, but I still count some of my (& obviously your) classmates as some of my dearest friends. Don't neglect relationships in high school on the grounds that those relationships disappear. 

Here's one last simple tip, but one that takes a lot of work to apply: learn how to manage time. This will serve you well in all the sports & activities in which you participate, but it's also a life skill that translates over to everything imaginable. To be quite frank, I'm not sure if anyone could survive college without some elementary time management skills. You certainly won't be able to if you'd like to rush, work a job, be involved in church, take more than a 15-hour-semester, or anything of the sort. So then, take high school as an opportunity to learn how to balance your commitments, spend your free time, & get things done in a timely manner. You won't regret it.

I truly hope you enjoy the rest of your time in high school. Make it count because before you know it, you'll be sitting on a laptop, blogging for your university, writing a letter to your high school self. Time sure flies!

Tyler:

Dear ambitious and stressed out high schooler,
Chill out about thirty notches down.  Stop worrying about quizzes that don't affect your grades.  You're not going to die alone because things didn't work out with that girl who's not headed down a good path anyway.  College is only a year away, so look forward to it, but don't miss the memories you can make until then.

You're about to change a lot.  Your environment is going to force you to adapt to behavior that you deem comfortable in your own experience.  For one, those seemingly carefree high school students who had no aspirations yet got all the attention because of it are not the popular ones in college.  You connect better with those that have goals and want to succeed, or at least those friendships will mean more, since decision to attend college is based on future goals.

Even more so than ever, there will be unfair things happen to you that you will not be able to explain or circumstances in which you may be completely innocent, but days still won't seem to go your way.  Know this:  you can't do everything right, and neither can everyone else.  You will feel like a victim many times, but molding into a victim mindset gets you nowhere; instead, overcompensate with more passion and more positivity than these situations typically allow.

Your grades, your achievements, your athletic career, and your life in general before college doesn't matter.  People are evaluating you as a person at the moment they meet you, so view college as a clean slate.  Don't feel like the cynical, introverted person you are in high school should transfer to college automatically.  You actually can control your relationships in college.

For heaven's sake, stop trying to date in high school.  Yes, girls look good, but so does your date to the next Civitan function.  Did she go to your high school?  Exactly.  Treat them like the gentleman your father raised you to be, but not every girl you like needs to be dated because you will have plenty of opportunities in the long run.

Especially at the school you're attending, "relationships with professors" is not just a cliche selling point of the college to get you to attend.  Meet as many of the business school professors as you can; it encourages them to see you succeed, especially when consulting them with any problems you have.  Some of them may even be great friends of yours.

Despite what rumors you have heard, college is not difficult; it's different.  The system is set up to where your grades depend on how much work you put into them.  Some classes are surely harder than others, but generally, college is preparation for the workforce.  If you're willing to work in college, you will succeed, just like in a real world setting.  Thus, a 4.0 doesn't necessarily mean smart student, as much as it means good student.

Above all else, know that it's easy to lose track of your walk with Christ by getting involved elsewhere.  Your grades, activities outside of the classroom, and relationships divert you from opportunities to spend time with the Lord in prayer and in Scripture that you need to be using.  Focus on your spiritual life much more than you anticipate coming in.

Tyler,
Experienced college student with a lot of problems 

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