Learning to play nice is a lifelong skill.
Don’t miss your chance to work and associate with new and different people. The meaningful people in your life are going to come from the most unexpected places.
Following directions is working smarter not harder.
It might pay off to dig your heels in once in a while. But usually, the one giving directions knows why each direction is important. Do what you’re asked when you’re asked to do it.
Just because one girl has dangly earrings, doesn’t mean I need dangly earrings.
I loved those colorful earrings and they distracted me on the first day of school. But, her earrings that matched her new clothes wasn’t the most important thing about her; my clothes and bare earlobes weren’t the most important things about me.
It’s okay to feel special.
On my eighth birthday I was so excited because right after school I was going to be baptized as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But, I didn’t know if my teacher would care so I never said anything. During the school day, she brought up that it was a special day for me and it was okay to be excited! She knew! If you are celebrating something special or even happy with the way your coat matches your snow boots, BE HAPPY! It’s not going to hurt anyone else if you choose to be happy!
It’s okay to be smart.
My teacher would race me on the timed multiplication tests. I don’t know if she was slowing down for me but I really was pretty quick. After I beat her a few times, I started to slow down because I didn’t want her to think I was too smart because she might make my work harder and I didn’t know if I could learn anything else. When she saw my time change she saw right through me. She called me out on hiding what I was good at. Don’t hide the things your good at even if it’s just multiplication. That’s what makes you unique!
Appreciate others for their talents and skills.
Students were really developing their own skills and interests this year. My teacher didn’t lump us all as 25 fourth graders. I heard her say specific things to individual students about what she saw in them. She helped us identify our strengths and our weaknesses and showed us that it’s okay to have both.
It doesn’t make you stupid if others are smart.
I’m not sure how they chose the fifth grade students for our fifth and sixth split grade class. But I was left feeling challenged by the students I was surrounded by. I got a little confident in previous years and hadn’t ever had to try very hard to keep at the top of the class but this year was different. The teacher did not cut corners or take easy roads through curriculum. As an adult, I can see what a good teacher she was but, man, I struggled with my confidence that year. As I watched other student succeed, score higher, or get voted class president I felt like I was pushed down. I didn’t appreciate the idea that cheering others on doesn’t make them better than you. When others succeed it doesn’t mean you fail.
People change and you change. It’s not personal.
The closer we came to junior high the more noticeable the “groups” were. Boy/Girl parties were happening. Kids were “going out.” And, it mattered who was where and when. My social life changed. I didn’t realize I was changing just as much as the kids around me. And, we all continued to change throughout junior high and high school. The thing is, no one moved on or went different directions to personally hurt others. At some times, some friends will be closer to you than other times. It’s okay. Just make sure you’re not burning bridges or doing harm while you figure yourself out.
Pay attention and keep up. Don’t be lazy.
Oh my goodness! Seven classes, seven teachers, catching a bus, figuring out a locker, home-life, and the Young Womens church group was a lot to juggle for a twelve year old. (Today, a co-workers seventh grader brought back such a real memory of the smell of the junior high bus in August. Oh, the B.O.) There isn’t time to procrastinate or cut corners. Get someone to help you manage it all. You’ll get the hang of it. Life stays busy from here on out. Learning to prioritize now is going to pay off in the long run.
Everyone is dweeby sometimes.
That haircut. Those round glasses. P.E. My round little self. Girls worried about “becoming women.” Is there anyone who feels like junior high was the high point of their life? I can’t say I felt better about any of it until sometime around my senior year. Dweeby is okay. Figure out who you are and how to be you. We all gotta do it.
Be true to yourself even if you end up alone.
By now, you probably have a little idea about your personality, your values, and some of the things that are important to you. But being a teenager is hard because some of those things still feel a little fluid. And most of your day is spent at school with your friends who, you don’t realize, are figuring those things out too. Spend time deciding what is important to you and make it apart of who you are. Once in a while, you’re going to have to stand alone when you stand up for what you believe. That’s not something you’ll regret later. But, changing yourself to “fit in” in the moment of pressure from your friends is something you’ll wish you had done a little differently. Be true to yourself.
Pity parties only get you so far.
During the first year of high school an aunt, who I was very close to, got sick and passed away. I allowed this hard time to crush my motivation and ability to make any progress or succeed at school. Two quarters later, I was still unable to rebound what I had done to my grades earlier in the year. I couldn’t change my bad attendance and poor scores because I let it become too big of a problem. When I was feeling bad about myself, academically, I was feeling justified because I had suffered a great loss. If you are struggling and having a hard time, ask for help. If your behavior and personality changes it’s a sign that something isn’t going well. Sixteen year old girls aren’t qualified therapists. Ask for help. There are parents, siblings, teachers, and others who know how to help.
Teachers and mentors know what you are capable of. Trust them.
You are going to be blessed when a teacher or parent or mentor takes an interest in pushing you forward. I’m not talking about “pageant moms” but someone legitimately interested in helping you discover what you’re capable of. Seventeen year old kids aren’t well known for their interest in doing what adults tell them to do. Do it anyway. They know something you don’t know. Trust what they are telling you and try it. Even when it seems like they don’t understand how hard it is for you, let them help you through it. You’re going to find that you are powerful, capable, smart, talented, unique, and loved in many ways. You might not stick with what they teach you throughout your life but you’ll never forget or stop loving the person who walks through this part of life with you.
It feels good to do good.
Why did I wait until now to care about doing good at school? I found out that I could do it! I wasted so much time! This good feeling carried out of the school into volunteer work, my spirituality, planning for my future, with my family and with my friends. Having a hard time finding the motivation? Just do ONE thing RIGHT NOW. That’s right. Stand up and walk away if you need to and do the one thing you were thinking, “I should do that soon.” Go.
The easy way out of one thing is probably going to make the next thing more difficult.
Did someone ever give you an easy out? I had a teacher who let me slip through my computer literacy class because on the first day of school I wore a softball shirt (from Old Navy). I don’t like computers or computer classes. It’s foreign and hard for me. I didn’t keep up because I had no idea what the assignment meant or what I was actually supposed to turn in to prove that I could operate a computer. Don’t worry. If you’re unprepared, just turn in a sad story. Even better, that’s not just a pass to turn in late work when you figure it out. The sad story counts for the assignment. I’ll do you one better. Don’t write out the whole sad story. Just write the words “Sad Story.” Done. I got an A. Man, the rest of college and even going to work was a heck of a challenge with no computer skills.
Make choices that get you where you want to go.
I started school without a major but quickly found an interest in Political Communications. Two semesters later an English paper led me to Financial Education. I had to transfer schools, move, find out there was a better school for my goal, transfer again, and move again. When you have an idea or a goal, you can’t get there by staying put. Goals don’t come you. Do some research about what you want and, most importantly, GET GOING!
Push through hard times. They only last a minute.
There is a lot to do. There are a lot of things you can do and a lot of things you don’t have time to do. Be careful when you’re loading your schedule to prioritize what is good, what is better, and what is best. If you’ve committed yourself to something or someone, stick with it.
You’ll miss every opportunity you don’t ask for.
Business ideas, job opportunities, education, travel, etc. Go for it. What if I had applied for the internship in Denver? What if I had pursued the master’s and doctorate degree? “If if’s and but’s were candy and nuts….” Don’t chicken out. If there’s something you want to do, DO IT! I took a sort of easy path after college graduation because I don’t like hard things. I don’t like to be turned down. So, I stuck with what I knew. Looking back, I am happy with how things went but I wish I would have allowed myself to be more vulnerable. I might have had more opportunities to choose from if I would have thrown my hat in new places. Or, maybe I would have learned that being turned down is okay too. Your value doesn’t come from your transcripts, resume, or passport stamps. Get out there and try something new.