My freshman year wrapped up at the end of May, and I’ve had time to reflect on how awesome this year has been. These are the nine most important lessons I learned during my first year of high school.
1. Never write off something that you’ve never tried.
This fall, I did something that, a year ago, I would have deemed “not for me”… being a football cheerleader! I decided to take this step outside of my usual realm of activities and try something completely new and different, just to see if I would like it. And what would you know, I absolutely loved cheering! I spent many hours with some amazing girls who soon became some of my best friends. We stood under the lights every Friday night, waving our blue and white poms, seeing who could cheer the loudest, and laughing at Erica, who couldn’t seem to figure out how to spell “sophomore” correctly on her cheer box. I am so glad that I didn’t write off cheer as something I would never do, because it proved to be an awesome experience that I look forward to being a part of in the years to come!
2. Make your own soundtrack.
Confession: I just heard the Hot 100 number one song, Despacito, the other day for the very first time when my mom showed it to me. You might be asking yourself, “How does Lydia’s mom know more about pop music today than Lydia?” The answer is simple: I rarely listen to pop music because I prefer to spend my time rocking out to Miles Davis, Benny Goodman, and Duke Ellington. Jazz is the music that I enjoy listening to, and I’ve learned to do (and listen to) what I love, even if it’s not what’s currently “popular.”
3. Live the best parts of your life twice.
Every single day of this year, I have documented my daily adventures, achievements, conversations, and moments in my journal. I love doing this because when I write down the events of my day, I get to relive the emotions and experiences later, whenever I read the journal.
4. Find friendship where you least expect it.
Going into freshman year, I fully expected to only have super close relationships with the people in my class. However, I soon found that my expectations were wrong. I ended up having conversations in the hallways, getting sushi, shopping at the mall, and going to the movies with sophomores, juniors, and seniors. I grew close to a lot of people outside my class, and I am so glad I did (even though it was not fun saying goodbye to the graduating seniors that I love). But on top of finding friendship with other high schoolers, I’ve also learned to appreciate the relationships with the adults and younger people in my life. There are so many awesome people to form relationships with if we just keep our eyes open and don’t let our expectations hinder us.
5. Watch out for deer when you’re driving to school.
Sorry about your leg, Bambi.
6. It’s not about the trophies.
For so many people my age in our culture today, we place our value in the results– the report cards, the trophies, and the scoreboards. The lessons that we learn and the moments that we experience in life are far more lasting than the grades on the report cards and the trophies that end up collecting dust in the back of the case.
7. Say yes because you’re called, not because you’re ready.
To quote SNL’s Lorne Michaels: “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30.” I was the pianist for my high school’s jazz band this year, which I love being a part of. One important part of jazz band is improvisational soloing, and at the beginning of the season, my band director suggested that I solo on clarinet (which I play in concert band) for one of our competition pieces. At first, I was very hesitant to say yes because I’d never soloed on clarinet before. I thought I should wait until I knew my scales better, until I was more experienced, until I was a junior or a senior. But I decided to try. I decided to say “yes” to the opportunity before me, and then I worked hard to be the best that I could be at it. I ended up rocking it on my clarinet solo, and I’m so glad that I decided to say yes to that calling.
8. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to be willing to make fun of myself. One way that I did that this year was through some friends who live right over the border in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They constantly make jokes aboutus Iowa kids being “obsessed” with agriculture, and cows especially. So when some of us Iowans came over recently for a party, we brought them a cake with these words etched onto it in frosting: “Sorry for all the times I talk about cows.” The cake was a hit, and I’ve learned to not take myself too seriously and not be afraid to just laugh at myself.
9. Live in the moment.
I am naturally wired as a planner and someone who is constantly looking ahead. Even though it’s difficult for me, I make an effort to stop worrying about my future– my college and career plans. I make an effort to just live in the moment that I am living in right now.