My first day of high school was daunting. I knew only a handful of other students, was wearing what I had deemed a ridiculous uniform for the first time in my life, and carried around all my textbooks because I did not realize that they were not needed every day. What I wanted to hear on that first day of high school was the reassurance that everything was going to be OK. And it was. High school was challenging academically, socially, and emotionally, but I not only got through it, but found new friendships and experiences along the way.
Your goal should include finding out what you like and want to do with your life. When you find something you enjoy in high school, delve into it. High school is a unique place where you have the opportunity to be a leader in your community. It is a place where you have enough time on your hands to get very involved in specific projects. It is also temporary, and each year -- even each season -- can bring new opportunities and experiences.
One project I was involved in during high school was an internship with a local newspaper. This job allowed me to test and grow in my love for journalism and writing. By delving into this project, I came out with clearly defined goals for myself and my future.
Practice the practical
Real-world experience during high school is so important for making decisions about what comes next. I encourage you to seek out situations that, if not real-life work or actual experience, greatly imitate the situations and decisions you will eventually need to make. This could be an engineering club where problems are solved or an acting group where people must work together. This experience will not only give you insight on whether you are the kind of person who likes problem solving over group work, but will make you successful as you begin to navigate the real world of college applications, applying to jobs, and becoming an adult.
Your time in high school is precious, so do not waste it spending hours online or watching television rather than doing schoolwork, tying yourself down further into an activity you do not enjoy or find no value in, or filling your time with so many events you become scattered and cannot properly focus on any of them.
Have a plan to keep yourself on track in school and in your other activities. Remember that high school is one of the only times when you are old enough to be given large responsibilities but still young enough to have the support of a family taking care of you.
Take advantage of your valuable time and prioritize what you do. The activities you involve yourself in largely contribute to who you are, so choose wisely. Usually, what seems so important at the time – whether it is a deadline for a school project, a relationship that does not develop as you would like, or success in athletics – is not the most important thing in the end. I have looked back on my high school career and wished I prioritized more time for my family and my own relaxation instead of the needs of others.
By graduation, that handful of people I knew had grown until I could not walk down the hallway without saying hello to someone. The uniform? It became like pajamas: comfortable and worn. And the textbooks (stored in my locker by senior year) became guides as I navigated the academic hallways toward the rest of my life.