Let me just start this article off by saying that I was in no way “popular” in high school. I went in to it after graduating 8th grade with only 14 other people in my class, almost all of whom I had known since Pre-K, so the transformation into a public school with suddenly hundreds of people in my class who I’d never met was nerve wracking to say the least. My hope is that at least one of the tips below can help in some way or form to whoever is reading it. So I’ll give you a few quick little tips on not only how to make it through high school, but also how to get the most out of it that you can. I’m not about to say anything you that you haven’t heard before, but maybe coming from someone who was in the same spot as you are not too long ago, it’ll give you some reassurance that everything is going to be okay - I promise!
1. Go To Sporting Events
Try to make it to at least one big sporting event! There are a ton of people who make it through all four years of high school without attending a single game, but I highly suggest going to one. I went to maybe one football game my freshman year, then was in driver’s ed Friday nights my sophomore year, and I remember wishing I had made time to go to more of the football games. All you need to do is plan on meeting one friend there (I even brought my younger brother with me to one of my first games as backup) and you’re set for a night of fun. Being there in a hyped-up student section is one of those amazing feelings that you can’t really put into words and should try to experience at least once, even if it’s not usually your forté. But football isn’t your only option; in my senior year, I went to a swim meet with a few friends, tagged along with my sister to watch my close friend in her last varsity volleyball tournament, and attended several boys basketball games. You never know for sure what your path after high school is going to be, and if you never have the chance to be in a college student section, at least you know you got to experience it in HS.
2. Get Involved
It may sound hard to get involved for some people, and that’s totally okay, but there’s so many little things you can do to build up your comfort with it! I was in basketball and track for all four years of school, and I met every single one of my best friends on one of those teams or at least through someone I’d met on one of the teams. But you don’t need to be athletic or in something like theatre to expand your horizons. There’s everything from student government and national honor society, to clubs like Spanish club or spirit club, that only meet for 30 minutes every month or so. Those types of clubs meet for such short periods of time and ask nothing of you in return, but can open up so many opportunities for you to meet new people and do new, fun things.
3. Outside School Property
You do NOT have to go to every single “party” that you hear about in order to feel like you’re not missing out, believe me. But putting in a little bit of effort outside of the classroom will result in some of the best memories you’ll have when looking back post-graduation. Things like bonfires, birthday parties, a small get together after a school dance, they are all examples of a non-pressure situation on you to show up and not have to be extra outgoing, but rather slowly adjust to the situation and get comfort and open up to the people around you and have an amazing time on your own terms.
4. School Spirit
It seems like the whole school is divided 50/50. Half the school doesn’t care about and even think that it’s lame or pointless to care about things like spirit week or pep assemblies or how well your school is ranked in certain sporting events compared to your rival schools, but I swear to you that you will have so much more fun if you show some spirit and feel passionate about those type of things. Be a little bit weird and outgoing and show that you love your school colors! If anything, it’s better, more positive, and more fun for you to over-care about your school than to ignore it altogether.
5. Stick With What You Love
Yes, it is beneficial for you to experiment and try as many different things and experiences as you can, but at the end of the day, find what it is that you really love to do and don’t turn your back on it. Faking it till you make it shouldn’t be the answer in situations that make you uncomfortable or that you know isn’t really “you.” Keep your friends close and don’t put any less value on your personal interests even if you’re one of the only people who finds it interesting. Don’t change who you are for anyone! Don’t lose a good friend to try to climb up the popularity ladder! Be you, and stick with what you love to do. Anyone who looks down on that isn’t worth your time or your worries.
6. Go to Dances
Just like sporting events, I recommend trying to go to at least a dance or two. Dances are something that kinda seem important in the beginning of your high school years, then a thing you start to not really care about near the end of sophomore year through your junior year, and then you come full circle and have some of your most fun dances in the world during senior year. It’s all sorts of awkward and it’s tiring and your feet get filthy, but that post-dance feeling when you get home and crawl into bed is that of so much content. I remember that I went to my freshmen dance which was the first week of school, and I knew nobody, just sort of randomly slipped into the group that looked like it was having the most fun; I didn’t even realize it until like three years later looking back, but some of the girls I met that night ended up being my closest friends later into sophomore year. It just goes to show that you don’t need to know a bunch of people in order to find people and have a good time with them. At some point, you will most likely stop caring about and stop going to the various dances during your time in high school, but going to dances in your senior year with your best friends is a blast and you won’t regret it, especially now that they aren’t put up on the pedestal that they may have been back when you were a freshmen.
7. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
This one is short n sweet and you have heard it said so many times and by so many different people that at this point it just goes in one ear and out the other, but step outside of your comfort zone! You’re young and everyone around you is still discovering themselves and most of them probably still won’t really know who they are until a few years after they leave high school anyway, so don’t restrict yourself to just what you know and what you’re comfortable with. Try new things, go through phases, don’t get embarrassed. This is the best time to be adventurous!
8. Boys Aren’t Everything
Just in case you haven’t figured it out yet, you do not have to find the love of your life in high school. “High School Sweethearts” are a cute concept, but don’t have high expectations or feel pressured to meet your soulmate just because you’re in your teens and a lot of people around you are dating now. Odds are, you’re not going to find the guy of your dreams at 16, so have fun and if you do get into a relationship, try to get your boyfriend to do cute and nice things for you and get the most out of it as both of you can, but as hard as it might be, don’t let yourself get a broken heart. I can’t stress enough how much of your life is still ahead of you after high school, and unfortunately most boys you fall for at this point in your life are not going to be mature enough to handle a real long term relationship. That’s not an insult, it’s just true. Your brains are still developing, and you’re all still growing and learning and discovering yourselves. You don’t need to have a good relationship to have a good time. You’ll likely discover at some point in your college years that you didn’t really even know what love was when you were back in high school!
9. Keep Your Real Friends Close
Sadly, a lot, lot, lot of the people you get close to in high school are not going to be that important once you get further into college or start your careers. My younger sister just graduated HS last year, and she was one of the most popular girls in school, and you know who she hangs out with more than anyone now that she’s out of high school? Someone who she randomly rekindled a friendship with from 7th grade. She was actually relieved to move on from all the friends and drama she went through in those four years of school. So while you are in high school, keep your good friends as close to you as you can, but don’t change for them for any reason. Surround yourself with people who are going to lift you up and support and motivate you. It’s not worth the time or effort to deal with anything else. Friendships can cause just as much heartbreak as relationships can, so be mindful of who you choose to spend your time with.
10. Enjoy It
It’s such a cliche thing to say, but this is all going to be over before you know it. Week to week may seem like an eternity sometimes, but when you look back at it all you’ll realize that high school really did pass by in the blink of an eye. Try to get the most out of the four years you have there and don’t stress too much about it. These are some of the very last years you have to be a kid, and at the end of the day, high school is going to be such a small, insignificant period of time compared with the whole of your life. You don’t have to know exactly who you are or what you wanna do with your life by the time you graduate, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Enjoy as many moments of high school as possible, and try to get the most out of it as you can. Be you. Make mistakes. Learn and grow in everything you do. And have fun! It’s just high school, and you’re going to be okay.