To underclassmen: Don’t lay low. Break out of your shell.

Raise+your+hand.+Talk+to+your+crush.+Get+out+of+your+comfort+zone.+High+school+only+lasts+a+few+years%2C+so+make+the+best+of+them.

Art by Payton Scott

Raise your hand. Talk to your crush. Get out of your comfort zone. High school only lasts a few years, so make the best of them.

Ever since I first walked through those doors as a confused and frightened freshman, up until this year as a senior, I’d been sticking to one foolproof strategy to survive: being invisible. I would keep my head down, keep my grades decent, avoid group work and not bother with clubs.

A horrible idea, in hindsight.

As I stand here, graduation and the future slowly crawling towards me, I have found myself regretting not using my time in high school better. There’s no way for me to go back in time, but I can help the underclassmen fretting about the next 3-4 years of their life. There are a lot of reasons to break out of your shell and live a little, such as…

You’ll learn better habits for the future

This one is pretty simple. Whether you’re going to a trade school, off to college or right into the workforce, you need to form good habits, and high school is the best place to do so. You have ample resources in the library, teachers are more willing to make a compromise than in middle school, and in the end, the mistakes you make don’t really matter much here.

What matters is what you learn from these mistakes and how you apply what you learn to the outside world. 

You’ll need teachers to write your recommendation letters

If your intent is crippling yourself with debt by going to college, then this segment is for you. Even in the early years of high school, you’ll need to be thinking about your letters of recommendation.

These letters are pretty much what they sound like: letters written to colleges by your teachers explaining why that college should accept you. Teachers don’t just hand these out to anybody, though.

The best way to get a good letter of recommendation is to really show a teacher what you have to offer, so they will be able to pass their experiences with you on to the college.

Forming and maintaining a good (and appropriate!) relationship with your teacher over these four years is important to anyone looking to further their education, and it’s not something you’ll be able to do if you’re spending all your time as part of the classroom wallpaper. 

You’ll work better with teachers

Maybe I shouldn’t be saying this, but we’re all thinking it! Teachers have favorites, and they’ll favor students that really show they want to be there. Most will tell you they don’t, but some teachers are just downright shameless with how much they favor certain kids.

Like I said, it’s a great thing to have a good (and appropriate!!!) relationship with your teachers, even if you’re not looking for a letter of recommendation from them. Teachers can be a vital source of extra help, and if you communicate that you’re actually struggling and not just blowing off your work, they’ll be more than happy to give you the assistance you need.

You’re going to be walking into their classroom to be taught by them for 47 minutes a day, anyways. You might as well like the person you’re listening to.

You’ll have more fun

Frankly, it’s not fun being alone. Go out with friends, join a club, and socialize. Humans are social creatures, and if you’re going to be spending the next four years dragging your feet through these hallways, you might as well have some friends behind you along the way. Friends can make those boring, draining classes a little bit more bearable, your time at lunch a little less isolated, and your time at LHS just a little brighter. Plus, it’s always great to have a good friend to ask “Can I see your homework?” a period before it’s due.

You’ll seriously regret it

I haven’t done many of these things I’m preaching. But that’s why I’m preaching them. If I could go back in time, start over with the knowledge I have, I would be living a much better life right now. There’s only so much time you have in these halls before you’re sent out into the cold, cruel world, so you might as well make the most of it. 

If you don’t, well, you’ll probably end up like me—writing an article lamenting about how you wish you could have done things differently, and not wanting anyone else to make the same mistakes. And that’d just be a horrible place to end up, wouldn’t it?

There’s still time for you to make these next years great. Learn to draw or take up an instrument. Say hi to that cute guy or girl in your English class. Really crack down on studying for these tests, they only get harder. And most importantly, live your best life. Do the things you enjoy while you still can. You don’t get these years back, no matter how hard you try.

So take those risks, make those mistakes, and live a little. High school is the best place to do it.

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