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 of 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 called 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.
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.