Ah, the wonderful age of fifteen.
Fresh out of middle school and suddenly dumped into high school at the bottom of the social ladder. Being a freshman isn’t easy, especially with raging hormones, harder classes, and hallways full of Axe spray (in my school, it was always next to the French and Spanish rooms. Imagine trying to do the French accent with a lungful of Axe). It’s hard enough trying to adjust, but it’s also hard to look back at the choices you made and not cringe or “tsk” yourself.
I wish I knew then what I know now.
1. The people you sat with at lunch in 8th grade won’t be there to share their fries.
And that’s okay. You had your laughs and made some good memories, but it’s time to move on and find new people who don’t mind sharing their fries. You’ll soon bond over that Algebra homework you both forgot to do.
2. Speaking of lunch, pack your own.
The cafeteria food is good at first, but soon your stomach will bloat, your skin will be as greasy as the cheese pizza, and you won’t be able to look forward to “Chicken Wrap Wednesday.” Okay, maybe that last one was a lie, but seriously, bring your own lunch and save your precious skin while you still can.
3. Do your homework in study hall.
You have fifty-five minutes of free time. So go ahead and do that Algebra homework now so you won’t have to at lunch tomorrow.
4. Don’t carry all your books at once.
You have time to stop at your locker. There’s no point in carrying your weight in books up and down stairs all day. You’ll have plenty of time later to work on those arm muscles.
5. Speak in French class.
You’re good at French. Really good. So talk more and answer the questions (because you actually know the answer and it’ll save the awkward silence after the teacher asks).
6. Actually, speak in all your classes.
You have opinions. You have thoughts. You have answers. You have questions. You’re not paying for school yet, but soon you’ll be borrowing almost $50,000 for four years of college. And to just sit in silence? No way. Raise your hand and don’t be afraid to be seen as the “smart girl.”
7. Read the books for English class.
It’s easier than reading it on SparkNotes only to have your teacher give you questions that the site didn’t cover (thank you to my 11th and 12th grade English teachers for preparing me). You’ll also be able to write a better essay. And trust me, teachers know when you didn’t read the book and aren’t afraid to point out that fact. And it’ll make class discussions easier. There’s nothing worse than sitting in the dreaded Discussion Circle and not having a single thing to say because you didn’t read the book.
8. You don’t have to say yes to him.
Sure, he’s the first guy to give you any attention–and not to mention the fact that he’s a junior–but really, if he’s asking you to do something you don’t want to do, then don’t do it. This is your first serious relationship, and you shouldn’t agree to anything that makes you uncomfortable. You’ll spend over a year together, so there’s no need to rush into things. And just know that you are your own person and you can have your own interests. Don’t want to hang out with his friends? Then say no. Relationships aren’t a one-way street.
9. You have anxiety.
Why can’t you call anyone without sweating and feeling like your heart is going to explode? Why can’t you be late to class without turning bright red and feeling nauseous? Why do you have to know exactly what your plans are with friends before you leave? Why is it that sometimes you can’t leave the house because you feel as if something bad will happen? You’ve known your whole life that something was different about you. I mean, for crying out loud, you hid behind your hands when you were in pre-school. It’s better to know now than your freshman year of college: you have anxiety, you still have anxiety, and you will have anxiety for the rest of your life. Some people will understand, but most people won’t. But that’s okay, because you’ll learn to teach them and help them understand. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and remember: there is nothing wrong with you.
10. Learn good hygiene.
You’ll want to cry when that horrible red-haired-freckled-face jerk asks you if your hair is wet in third bell Science class. It’s not wet, it’s just oily. And he’ll go to his friends and point to you and whisper while giggling. Also, learn to wash your feet every night because sadly you inherited dad’s smelly feet.
11. It’s okay that you love to read.
Be a nerd. Who cares? Your best friend is a book nerd, too. Plus, reading makes you smarter and more creative. You won’t have as much time to read in the future, so read while you can. And it’s perfectly acceptable to read Harry Potter for the seventeenth time.
12. Don’t be mean to your parents.
Sure, they get annoying, but so do you. And there’s no need to snap at them because they didn’t get your favorite frozen fruit bars at the grocery store. Being a fresh teenager is hard enough. Don’t add that strain to your parents.
13. Be humble.
You haven’t been exposed to the world yet, and you’re so innocent. You don’t have a lot of things, but just remember that people have less than the little amount you do. You’ll see homeless people everywhere you go. And although it scares your parents to death, as long as you feel safe doing it you should give them whatever you can. A simple bag of crushed Goldfish can make someone’s day, trust me.
14. Find your passion.
It’s scary when teachers ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Because, honestly, you have no idea. You’re too busy trying to keep your grades up that you sometimes forget that dreaded question. Find your passion early, or else you’ll spend four years of college wondering what the hell you’re doing and hoping you didn’t waste all of that time and money on a silly degree that means nothing to you (this will happen regardless). So dive in, try new things, and fall in love with something.
15. Love yourself.
You’ll spend so much time hating yourself and harming yourself. Learn to love who you are now and be okay with it. Who cares if your thighs touch? Who cares if your skin is pale? Who cares if your hair does a weird middle part sometimes? You are you, and there’s nothing better than that.
And just remember, you survived being fifteen.