Journal: How to have a good school year (Originally for publication in the PHS Journal)

                If you have been around enough people, someone has undoubtedly said to you, “Enjoy High School – it’s the best years of your life”.  More than likely, you followed that up with some seriously negative thoughts about that person’s sanity.  For many people, High School seems to be a really crappy time of life, not one they would likely remember with great fondness.

                High School is fraught with all sorts of forgettable experiences – homework, heartbreak, bullies, growing pains, stupid mistakes, stupid comments, perhaps sibling rivalry… no wonder so many people would like to forget it.  What I will tell you is: You will not forget it, and you should not.  High School is not the best time of your life or the worst, it’s just a time.

                Sometime later on, you will look back on this time of your life and compare it to the others.  Hopefully, there will be many times for you to compare to, though statistically some of you will have far fewer.  Time gives us a wonderful ability to look back, not in anger or nostalgia but in perspective.  No matter how pleasant or difficult these current times are to you, they will look very different when they are far in your rear-view mirror.  The good will taste sweeter and the bitter will generally fade away.  This is why so many adults think back on High School as such a great time of life.  They have forgotten all about the hassles, because that stuff was so very unimportant.  What they remember are the good parts: friends, good teachers, big events, romantic experiences, silliness, etc.

What you will see when you look back are the parts of High School that made you who you are.  Some of those parts may help form you into the person you always wanted to be, but others may have actually prevented you from getting where you wanted to go.  Ironically, you will cherish both the good and the bad equally, because you would not be who you are without all of it.  Hardly a day goes by that I do not think of some key event that shaped the current life I live.  I can imagine alternatives had I taken different classes, attended a different college, or married a different girl, but any of those things would have changed the life I live now, and I’m pretty well satisfied with what I have.  Sure, there are things I wish I hadn’t done or things I wish I had, but then I would be a different person, and there is no guarantee that that would be better.

The way I see it, if you look back much later and still think of High School as the best years of your life, it would be a pretty sad commentary on the quality of the other times of your life.  Live this time well; learn from it, evaluate it sensibly, and move on to other times.  Cherish what you are gaining now (even if the lessons are painful) and then move on to other times with the same attitude.  You’ll find that whatever time you are in will be the best time of your life.

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