11 Lessons I Learned Junior Year

Another school year finished means it’s once again time to look back the lessons I’ve learned in the past year! My junior year was one of great growth and one I will definitely never forget. Without further ado, here are the 11 most important lessons I learned during my junior year of high school.

1. Apology cakes are always a good idea.

Let me tell you, dear reader, a story of misfortune involving the author and an innocent parked car. One winter evening, I was leaving my boyfriend’s house, where my little Ford Escape was parked in the driveway. I said my goodbyes to his family, got into my car, and began to back out onto the street. But I never reached the street. I traveled a few feet backward before I felt a sharp jerk and heard an awful crunching noise. Oh, no. I had hit my boyfriend’s brother’s car, which I (obviously) had not realized was parked behind mine. (Bonus lesson learned: Look behind you before you start backing up.)

Of course, I felt awful for destroying the front bumper of his car, so a couple of days later, I made a special trip to Hy-Vee for a good old-fashioned apology cake. It didn’t fix the car, but I’d say it made everything a little bit better.


2. There is purpose in the struggle.

One evening after band rehearsal this past August, my good friend Julia got into a serious car accident. I was one of the first people on the scene and also one of the first to visit her in the hospital days later as she recovered. Needless to say, this was a tough time for my community, but it allowed me to realize a powerful truth: God uses hard times to draw us nearer to him. As I worried and prayed and did all I could to help, I felt a new closeness to God.

The same goes for many of the difficulties we face in life. Whatever we face, whether it be semester tests or sickness, clinging to God and his amazing love makes our hurts and worries diminish.

3. Reading > Netflix.

After a long day at school, there is nothing I love more than crashing on my couch with an episode ofย The Office. Netflix is easy. And mindless. This year, I challenged myself to read more and limit my Netflix-ing. I encourage you to do the same. Nothing quite compares to the joy of reading, and it’s so easy to forget that in our fast-paced, technology-driven world.

My favorite read this year: Anne of Green Gables. Not even close. Beyond amazing.

My least favorite read: Lord of the Rings. #sorrynotsorry.

4. Music is what I want to do with my life.

This year, I decided that I want to pursue a career in music. As of right now, I’m planning on getting a degree in Music Education, but after college, I still have no clue what I want to do for a job. I just know that I love making music more than just about anything else, and I can’t imagine doing anything else for the rest of my life.

5. It takes courage to say no.

This year, I learned that saying yes is easy. And that sometimes saying no is much harder. I’m heading off to college in a little over a year, and it’s caused me to realize that I need to start focusing on what’s really important and cutting out what isn’t. For me, that looks like stepping back from activities and commitments that I’m not truly interested in so that I can spend more time doing what really matters.

Saying no requires maturity, and I still struggle to know when to say no. But I am beginning to choose my best self over my busiest self, and already, it is unbelievably freeing.

6. If you’re going to take a risk, go all out.

If you are familiar with my generation’s culture at all, you probably are aware of these things calledย promposals. These are the elaborate and carefully-planned methods by which we ask our friends to prom. This year, I decided that I wanted to put together The Best Promposal of All Time for my boyfriend, Brandon. I spent weeks brainstorming ideas until I found the perfect promposal, one that required sending an email to Brandon’s principal, texting his sister and mom for days in advance, and purchasing poster board and costumes for the occasion.

Finally, the day of the promposal came. My school had an early release that day, so my promposal crew and I made it there midday while Brandon was still in class. I called his sister out of class, and she got costumed along with my sister and friend, Kaylee. Then, the school secretary called Brandon out of class and into the lounge, where we gave him a HUGE surprise. Take a look at the photo below to see just how over the top my promposal was.

Though it was certainly very silly, my promposal reminded me that it’s important to face my fears and take chances. Life would be pretty boring if we never took any risks.


On the far left is my sister, Anna, and on the far right is Brandon’s sister, Braelynn. My friend Kaylee is dressed as Jesus and holding a Bible, and Brandon and I are in the middle, holding my sign that says, “Prom 20:19 — Then God said, ‘Go with Lydia.'” Of course, he said YES!

7. I am a feminist.

I know that for many, the word “feminist” is synonymous with “man hater.” Feminism gets a bad rap. But really, all the movement stands for is the equality of men and women. I believe that men and women are created equal and that they should be given equal opportunities for growth and success. This year, I took a deeper look into the inequalities still faced by women today through a research paper for my English class. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to check it out by clicking here.

8. Family is forever.

My sister, Anna, experienced major health issues this spring. She began to pass out every day at school and at home and eventually lost the ability to walk, so she was confined to a wheelchair for two weeks. Watching my sister be carted into an ambulance and helping her through multiple unconscious episodes was a fear-filled time for me and my family, especially considering we had no clue why she was experiencing these problems.

Today, Anna is better. She is still healing from what we discovered was a rare form of a viral infection. Her health issues caused a lot of worry, but they reminded me just how much my sister means to me. I love Anna and her sweet smile and her big heart. The truth is that friends and accomplishments come and go, but family is forever. I am so grateful for my family, and every insignificant worry I have truly pales in comparison to the love I have for them.


9. Outside of our comfort zones is where growth happens.

A couple of months ago, I started a new job working for my local newspaper. I love being a reporter, but it’s a job that takes me outside of my comfort zone everyday. I have to interview and photograph people I’ve never met before and cover events I know little about. It’s hard. But it has also taught me that living life outside of my comfort zone is important. When we decide to take a leap outside of our comfort zones, we can experience something wonderful. I challenge you to take a step outside of your comfort zone today and see where it takes you.

10. Treasure every moment.

Next year, I will be a senior. I can hardly believe it. A phase of my life is drawing to a close, and with that comes a sense of urgency. To make the most of every moment. To spend time doing what really matters. I realize that someday I am going to look back on these years of my life, and when I do, I don’t want to feel one ounce of regret. Live in the present with eyes opened wide, never daring to miss out on a single beautiful moment.

11. Look expectantly and joyfully toward the future.

A season of my life is soon to come to an end, and that brings sadness. But with that also comes excitement because I have so much of my life ahead of me. I can’t even comprehend all of the wonderful plans God has in store. So I look toward my future with joy, trusting in the plans God has laid out specifically for me. How about you? Whatever phase of life you are currently in, remember that God isn’t finished with you yet. He has marvelous plans for all of us that we have yet to live out.


8 thoughts on “11 Lessons I Learned Junior Year

  1. Oh I was so happy to see this, Lydia! I’ve not read a blog from you in a long while, and that’s because you were busy being a wonderful sister, diligent student, and devoted musician–first things first, and doing what matters most (and I know for you, your first priority is the Lord)! I’m so glad to read your progress and life lessons from this year. You have wisdom far beyond your years! You’re taking a turn I did at your age, as one skilled in writing, but who was passionate for music. I sing; you play. We should make music together someday! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so glad that you want to be a music teacher! In the end, that wasn’t for me, but music is still very important to me. Good teachers are rare, and I know you will be a wonderful one. We have a number of teachers in our family. Our niece just got a new job as a music teacher in the public school system after thirteen years in parochial school, and yay: Sheridan just landed her first teaching job!!! Sooo happy for her. While it’s part-time, it’s in the school district of her heart’s desire, and we pray will lead to full-time work in God’s timing. Very excited for your decision, honey. And I’m so glad that you are learning to say your best yes and to let go what is not best, w/ grace. I just did that on a board where I served, and while it was hard, this resignation was God’s leading, and frees me to focus on HIS best yes for me at this juncture of my life. Glad you are learning that lesson now. And remember, too, that His yes and no can change throughout your life. By that I’m not referring to His eternal truths, or His divine purpose for you, but rather, your missions can change. Just stay in good touch w/ Him, put Him and His Kingdom first, and remain under His cloud (ala Numbers 9). Stay as long as His cloud hovers, and move on when *it* does! You and Sheridan will need to have a little tete-a-tete over LOTR, and I still can’t bring myself to read that trilogy!! ๐Ÿ™‚ That said, I keep reading wonderful quotes from it, and my pastor wants me to . . . so . . ., eventually. You might consider The Hobbit. Believe it or not, I found some great life lessons in it, and have a cool devo book about it. There is a real Bilbo Baggins introvert in me, and I have to push myself to take adventures. Speaking of which, may the Lord bless your senior year in abundance, and may He use it to launch you into the next grand adventure of your music-career preparation. Soooo excited for you. And thank you for sharing about dear Anna’s adventure. It wasn’t likely one she would have chosen (or you for her), but to see her beautiful smile, and to know that her journey was one of faith, hope, inspiration, joy, and healing is soooo special. So glad you have learned the greatest lesson of all: Love your family, and life is precious.
    All my love,

    • Hi Lynn! So good to hear from you. I’m happy you enjoyed my blog post! Congratulations to Sheridan on her new job — I’m still not sure what I want to do for a job, but I know I can trust in God to get it all figured out. I have read the Hobbit a few years back, and I remember liking it more than Lord of the Rings (though I still wasn’t a huge fan). I think maybe Tolkien’s books just aren’t for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks again for reading! Hope you are having an amazing summer. xoxo

      • You are so wise to trust the Lord, Lydia. He surely will guide you each step of the way! Honestly, you don’t need to know what you will ultimately do. Just focus on the Lord and your education for now. ๐Ÿ™‚ I really get what you are saying w/ Tolkien. Though I appreciated the lessons, thus far, he’s not my cuppa. Maybe it’s the fantasy (and whacking!) aspects. I know you and I are Jane Eyre gals, for one.
        You have a great summer too, and I’ll relay your congrats to Sheridan.

  2. This is beautifully written, Lydia! Just like you! You have wisdom beyond your years and I hope you have the most amazing Senior year! (It was the best year of HS for me) ๐Ÿ™‚

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