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20 Things I Wish I Knew As A Freshman

High school is hard. Hopefully this makes it easier.

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High school is a tough crowd. There are some lessons that every human learns in those hallowed halls. Some learn the easy way. Some learn the hard way, like me. Heading into my junior year, there's a lot that I look back and cringe at. So, here's hoping that, by sharing what I learnt, I'll save you.

1. Don't Worry About What People Think

I spent a lot of time worrying about how people were going to react to what I did or wore or whatever, and it led to anxiety, and a lot of sadness and anger when people didn't react the way I wanted them to. The greatest decision I have ever made is stop listening to what people think about me. Pick a couple key people that really know you (mine were my parents, my sister, and my best friend), and only take their opinions of you to heart. Don't let other people determine how you live. Don't change for anybody, and do not try to change anybody.

2. Accept Compliments

I know it's awkward, and it's something that I have had to work on for so long, but when someone gives you a compliment, smile and say thank you. Maybe even give them one back, but under no circumstances should you deflect it or be fake modest or whatever. It makes them feel stupid and makes you look stupid.

3. Get a Job

I know, 'you wanna enjoy your youth and you'll work when you're older and blah blah blah.' No. Get a part time job. Whether it's at McDonalds or at a local store, whatever it is, get one. Not only will it get you out of the house and off the couch, you will appreciate the spending money that you'll have, and you can begin saving for school or a house or a car or literally whatever you want.

4. You Don't Need a Relationship

Someone very wise once said "you are more than the amount of people that want to have sex with you." It's going to seem like the end of the world when some of your friends get into relationships and you're left single. Trust me, it's not. Keep in touch with those friends and you will be fine. That being said, if you do enter a relationship, keep contact with your friends. I have had friends that get boyfriends and then completely stop talking to me. Keep up with your friends, and don't get too involved. Otherwise, if the relationship falls apart, your friends may not be around like you think.

5. Set Boundaries and Standards

There's going to come a time in a relationship when you're going to have to decide how far you're willing to go. Figure that out when you're not in a relationship. You'll be more likely to stick to it if you decide when you're single. Also, you'll have to decide on some deal breakers for relationships. Are they kind? Are they funny? Figure those out, then share it with someone you trust. Their feed back can help you figure out what's unreasonable. I had a friend whose list included 'must be able to keep up financially with my spending' and 'must be tall and blonde.' Don't be like my friend. Be realistic.

6. Just Do It

There could be a day when you are 75 or 80, and you could wake up filled to the brim with regrets. So, don't hesitate. Tell someone how you feel. Press send. Don't surround yourself with people that make you feel like junk. Love yourself. Enjoy the life that you have, because in an instant it could be gone. Life is short. Count to three, and do it.

7. It's Ok To Feel

There's a common misconception that says you aren't allowed to be sad. Don't believe it. If you're sad, it is in every way ok to cry. It is ok to be sad. Cry as often or as rarely as you want. It's also ok to laugh. Laugh until your stomach hurts, because that is one of the best pains that there is.

8. Drink Water

Push yourself to drink water. Buy a 1L water bottle that you like and gradually drink more and more each day. Push yourself. Not only will it fill you (a lot of hunger can be fixed with a big drink of water), it will help your skin feel nice and beautiful.

9. Journal

This one seems really lame, but it's one thing that I wish I had done more of. Buy a beautiful journal and, each day, write a page about what you did or how you were feeling. Find some journal prompts and write, or just spill how you're feeling. Then, you can look back and be flooded with memories about what life was like then. It's a pretty cool thing to be able to re-read that months, or even years, later.

10. Clean Your Room

This is easier for some than others. If you're naturally tidy (like me), do what you can to keep it in picture perfect condition. If you're on the messy side, do some regular tidying. Pick a day of the week and make that your cleaning day. Turn on some music and go crazy. Wash your sheets regularly. You'll sleep better. Dust and vacuum. You will feel so much better knowing that you've kept your room clean. Make it a source of pride.

11. Study Yourself

This sounds weirder than it actually is, but hear me out. Self discovery is weird and hard to do. Try some personality quizzes. Check out what interests you and find a hobby. Read about what different types of handwriting means. Stand butt naked in the mirror and learn every curve and edge of yourself. Figure out what makes you tick and what turns you on. I like to google 'first date questions' and figure out my answers. You can learn a lot about yourself when you try.

12. Spend Time Outdoors

Nature is pretty cool when you think about it. Spend some time outside, whether you're walking or biking or just sitting. Observe. Enjoy how beautiful and amazing it is to be outdoors.

13. Be Nice

This is the most important one on this whole list. Be nice. You have no idea what people are going through. Your 'joke' could be the world to them. It could haunt them until the day they die. Smile at strangers, even if they don't smile back. Help someone out. Do what you can to make the world a better place. Not only will it make their day, or possibly even their week, it will make you feel amazing, knowing that you did something that made an impact.

14. Have a Cause

Everyone has something that they're passionate about. So, find yours. It could be equality, or animal rights, or the legalization of marijuana. I don't care. Just pick something that you believe in, and that will make the world a better place.

15. Don't Stress

I decided a couple years ago that unless it is something that I will care about at eighty, then I won't worry. Don't use this as an excuse to flunk out of everything, but if you fail one test, odds are it won't determine your life. That zit doesn't really matter. Skipping class once won't matter in the long run. Don't worry about everything. A lot of life is out of your hands.

16. Have Discussions

I love having discussions with my friends about anything from ice cream types to our stance on controversial topics like gay marriage or abortion. I also like doing some research on some of those topics, just in case a discussion ever does arise. Start discussions! It can be great practice for a job, and discussions can teach you a lot about your friends. Listen to what other people say, be respectful of who you're talking to, stand by your point, or admit when you're wrong. Attack the argument, not the person.

17. Learn

We as humans have a natural desire to learn. We love learning about new things that interest us. Find something that interests you, whether it's sex or dogs or graphic design or crime or whatever it could be and learn. Google it and see what pops up. Read books on it. Grab that natural desire and use it until you're 'learned out.'

18. Treat Yo Self

People constantly feel this need to punish themselves. Set goals, push yourself, and then reward yourself. Pick a day of the year, pull a Donna and Tom (if you do not understand that reference than go watch Parks and Rec, please), and treat yourself. You deserve it.

19. Keep Lists

Every time someone recommends something for you to watch, eat or do, write it down or type it in your phone. Then when you're feeling lazy, you have a list of movies or shows you could watch. When you're hungry, you have a list of foods to try. When you're bored or restless, you have a list of things to do.

20. It Gets Better

There are going to be times when you feel alone. There are going to be nights when you cry yourself to sleep, and that's ok. I can promise you that it will get better. High school is four years, not the rest of your life. You can make it. You're a fighter.

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