All the things I would have told myself as a freshman

This story has been republished. Original publishing date: April 26, 2018


Illustrated by Alette Kegerreis

Anna Catherine Kueng, Editor-in-Chief

At age 14, if you’re anything like I was, you harbor a lot of insecurities and fears. On the contrary, this is also an age where you are still full of dreams and creativity. Somehow, I am a senior now and I find myself thinking back to my freshman year a lot. I think about people I miss, classes I miss, the things that I would have done differently, and just some funny memories I will never forget. Once in a while, I spot freshmen in the hallway that remind me a lot of myself and I just want to tell them all the things I never told myself. People say senior year flies by, but so does freshman year.

Start preparing for college. I hate to even include this one because what 14-year-old wants to start thinking about college? Unfortunately though, colleges are already thinking about you at this age. Your class schedule matters, your GPA starts changing, and all of your grades will be on your transcript that colleges will see in the future. If you are interested in Advanced Placement (AP) classes as an upperclassman, you need to take advanced/honors classes as a freshman to prepare you for AP. Also, whatever math class you’re in as a freshman (I was in Advanced Algebra II), you need to really pay attention  because algebra and geometry will follow you throughout high school. Plus, when you take the SAT as a junior, you will be mad at yourself for forgetting basic algebra concepts. Trust me, it happens.

Get involved with your school. I’m sure you are sick of hearing this. I know for me, I am tired of hearing college students tell me that about my freshman year of college. But, it is so true that if you want to be successful, you need to be engaged in things. For those playing sports as a freshman, it is easy for them to find their “group.” However, if you are not athletic, that does not mean high school has to be miserable for you. There are so many other activities to get involved in that will still allow you to optimize your time as a Trojan. When I was in ninth grade, I was inducted into BETA and also joined Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Interact Club, and journalism. When I first became a member of the newspaper staff, I did not realize how many opportunities I would be given. Plus, if you acquire leadership roles in clubs, it looks impressive on college applications. Whether you’re into painting (art club) or building things (robotics club), there is something for you.

It’s lame to think your school is lame. Contrary to popular belief, it is okay to like your school. It is okay to buy a class shirt and actually be excited about it instead of complaining that it’s ugly. Attending football games, band concerts, and art showcases is perfectly acceptable. Just because other freshmen may think school is a prison doesn’t mean you have to entertain that thought. You should be proud of where you are in life and adopt a positive outlook. Sure, there were many things about high school I hated as a freshman, but there were also many things I loved. I have gotten to grow academically, go on field trips, hear some incredible music (shout out to TCE), read interesting books, and most importantly, meet my best friends. I almost tear up thinking about how much I will miss going to my friends’ lockers in the mornings. Also, if you can manage to not just endure but actually like high school, you will do great in college. Most people who complain about their high schools will also complain about their colleges. Most people who found the beauty in their high schools will also find the beauty in their colleges. Don’t wait until senior year to chant “THS, I love it, I love it, I love it” and actually mean it. Once again, let me restate that I am not saying that you should love your school to a fault. If you see something that is wrong, speak out about it. There is no perfect school, but there are no perfect people either. You need to appreciate your high school, regardless of how annoying it can be at times.

Find your worth outside of high school hallways. I will not lie and say that your insecurities will subside when you leave middle school. For me, I think they probably increased during ninth grade. It is scary to walk into the lunchroom and find a table. It is scary to have to knock on the door of a class of all seniors. There are many intimidating parts of freshman year, but it is okay. If you are looking for validation in high school by being popular, pretty, the best academically, etc., you will always come up dry. For me, I find my worth through my Christian faith and I also remember how much my family loves me. Social media likes, flirty guys, or compliments just aren’t enough to fill the needs a heart has at age 14. A side note: I wish I would have deleted my Instagram in ninth grade until waiting until junior year. I sure don’t miss that.

Make smart decisions. Oh look, another “mom” piece of advice I am giving you. I am sure you have heard this advice as much as you’ve heard #2. I mean it, though. Please don’t make stupid choices. When you are exposed to addicting things at such a young age, it makes it very hard to ever break free from them when you get older. Ultimately it is up to you to make choices on the lifestyle you want, but please don’t feel like you have to do things you don’t want to do so you can fit in or have fun. You have so much worth and potential and you should live in a way that reflects that.

Take lots of pictures. Personally, I never struggled with this task as a freshman. I took pictures with my friends frequently, oblivious to the horror of my braces, etc. Older students generally look back on freshman year pictures with disgust and want to burn all evidence. I am not one of those students. Sure, I may have made some questionable fashion choices and hairstyle choices in ninth grade, but that does not matter. When I see pictures of myself laughing at football games, I do not shudder but I smile. I remember how happy I was in those moments, rainbow rubber bands and all. When you’re a senior, you will want pictures to look back on so you can see how much you have changed.

Embrace being the “baby.” I know when you are a freshman all you want is to be an upperclassmen. You see students driving to school and going to lunch early and you think I can’t wait. But, you can wait and you should wait because believe me, your time will come. Before you know it, you will be 16-years-old trying to figure out how to drive in THS traffic. Then, you’ll be 17-years-old and you will be trying to prepare for SATs and ACTs. Then, you will be 18-years-old and ready to buy a lottery ticket (I didn’t actually do that on my birthday), and you will be trying to decide on where to go to college, and suddenly, the world will expect all these things out of you. Being older and independent is great, but it is not everything. There are things I deeply miss about being younger that I can’t get back. Enjoy all of your days because you can’t get them back. Riding the bus with your best friend or getting dropped off by your parents will not last forever so enjoy those special times. Of course I love driving my car to school every day, but once in a while, I wish my Daddy would magically appear in carline. Plus, you need to learn how to embrace being a baby because after you graduate and begin college, you are in the same situation (but scarier).

I will leave you with a quote from A. A Milne, author of the Winnie the Pooh series.

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”