Over the past few weeks I have finished my high school career and let me tell you, it was so bittersweet. I am so excited about what is ahead but so sad to leave behind all the memories as well. This last year has been one of the best ever but that still came with rocky times before. So as I have been reflecting on the last four years over these past few weeks, I have been coming up with different life lessons I learned in high school. Since I was a part of the Class of 2015, here’s 15 things high school taught me/advice for teens in high school or about to start.

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1. God’s timing is PERFECT I know it’s cliche to say you have to trust in God’s timing, but His timing is seriously perfect. When things started getting tough in high school and I wanted to switch to another school, in the back of my head I kept hearing God’s voice in the back of my head telling me to be patient and wait. Then just a few months after everything in my life seemed to come crashing down, He turned everything around on the retreat I went on junior year. So if you find yourself in a rut and impatiently waiting to get out, have faith that He will bring you out at the perfect time for you.

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2. You don’t need to be attached to your friends ALL the timeI am so thankful to have had basically the same core group of friends throughout all four years of high school. That being said, it’s not like we all cling to each other 24/7. During school, I honestly hardly ever saw my closest friends. We all had different groups of friends and different activities going on and we could go months without ever being all together at once. Yet, whenever someone was in trouble we were always there for each other. Sure, we would get in arguments here and there, but I know my closest friends were always looking out for me. In the end, we just know that we are all there for each other, but we don’t have to physically be there all the time which I think is a very beautiful relationship.

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3. Most teachers really do care about you. This is something that I am very thankful for being so present at my high school. Of course, I’ve only been to two schools in my life, but from what I’ve seen, teachers really do care. There is something special about a teacher that does what the quote above says. You can tell when a teacher is passionate about something and, in my case, it always makes me want to work even harder to live up to their expectations. These kind of teachers have inspired me to want to be a good teacher someday. It’s not like teachers are making a ton of money, if they wanted to they would do something else. Instead, they care about us and our future which is why we need to cut them a little more slack and be thankful, as hard as it might be, for all the stress and late nights they put into our lives.

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4. Being “popular” or “cool” isn’t about what you think it is. Something I struggled with at the beginning of high school was feeling like I needed to be a part of the “popular” group at school. The “popular” group was the one with the most friends right? At first I used to hate the fact that my friends were not friends with all the kids who went out and partied and then once I saw more of what that lifestyle entailed, I used to despise the people who went out and did all of that while still wanting to be friends with them. Makes no sense right? What I have come to know in the past year is being loving to ALL people is the right way to be “popular” (even though I hate that word). I have noticed that the “cool” people aren’t the ones with the most amount of friends, which I have found to be true from different friends at multiple schools all over the country. When you show love and compassion to everyone, from the people who go out and party every night to the quiet girl sitting in the corner of the room, more people want to be around you. That being said, it doesn’t matter if a ton of people or a few people want to be friends with you. One quote I love is, “The quantity of your friends doesn’t matter, but the quality does.” So seek to become someone that is worth knowing, not someone who is well known. Don’t seek to be that person that everyone only knows about. I’ve realized that I’d rather have a few people know me very well than have a ton of people only know me by what they hear from other people. I guess what I’m trying to say is the quote, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou…or people won’t remember if you went to that party, or if you were in with the “in” crowd, but they will remember that time you made them feel special.

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5. Live in the moment. I am a day-dreamer. It’s what I catch myself doing ALL the time. Sure I have my wedding planned but do I know when or who it will be with? Not really. That being said, is it something I need to worry about right now? Probably not (even though my Pinterest board is perfect ;)) Anyways, in the past few years I have tried more and more to take a step back and live in the moment God has me in. I have focused on this especially this whole year as I went through all the “lasts” of high school. God is outside of time. He is fully living in the past, present, and future. As humans, we are called to live in the present at all times. We don’t know what the future holds and we cannot change the past, so we must make the most of the present. When I have done this, I always feel completely at peace, which is what God intended for our lives. I still think it’s fine to day dream, write letters to my future husband, and plan my wedding on Pinterest, but when I take a step back to notice all the beautiful aspects of life that are in front of me, I am truly joyful and living in God’s presence.

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6. Take time for your siblings. On the last day of my AP English Literature class (the hardest but best class I have taken so far), my teacher told us to take time for our siblings this summer. She said as we get ready for college, we will get so excited for all that’s to come without thinking about how hard the change will be on our family. That being said, these four years of high school are somewhat the last time you are with your family all the time. I wish I had taken more time for my siblings over these past few years but I am definitely focusing on it this summer! I’m the oldest in my family so obviously this is focused towards everyone with younger siblings, but it’s still important to make time for your older siblings when they make time for you. Even though siblings can be super annoying, I see them as God’s gift of life-long friends and try to cherish His gift to me.

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7. Taking time to learn in and outside of the classroom is so important. I have always taken my grades very seriously, sometimes to a fault. I have come to realize that grades are really important, but actually learning is most important. I absolutely hate that everyone’s first words when learning something new in class are “will this be on the test.” Sure, it’s important to do well on that test, but it’s more important to understand the material and apply it to your life. Honestly I am almost always one of kids in class asking about the test in the middle of a unit, but over senior year I have had less tests about content and more about applying the content. I feel like I have grown so much this year because I’ve had to actually learn the content and not just memorize it. The biggest thing I would say about learning in high school is to not focus on memorizing things then forgetting them, truly put the time in to learn the material (except math cause I hate math ;)) Alright so now outside of the classroom: my family has been able to travel a lot in my life and all of the things I have learned outside of the classroom have been so helpful not only in life, but also inside of the classroom. Therefore, I fully believe that you can learn no matter where you are and it is so wonderful to take advantage of those opportunities that arise in your life.

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8. Organize your life. Ok, so I’m an organization freak to be completely honest. That doesn’t mean my room is always clean, but just that I have a place for everything and I love planning things in my Lilly agenda! (Working on a post about how I organize my schedule.) But like the picture above says, I have realized that when I am organized, my overall quality of life is better. I am always happier and healthier when I have everything in order. Of course, this is just me and a lot of people thrive in messiness and not planning things, but personally I have found that organization helps me so much. I am one of those who gets waaayyy too involved and I have no idea what I would do if I didn’t organize everything I need to get done. So ya, keep a planner in high school. πŸ™‚

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9. Everyone has a story. This was one of the biggest lessons learned and realization that I had in high school. I know this one is cliche too, but once again its cliche because it’s true. We all have baggage, or crosses as my mom likes to call it, that we are carrying around. Sometimes you would never know what cross someone is carrying until it all comes crashing down and they fall; sometimes you don’t even know until it’s too late. That’s why we need to work on being less judgmental and more understanding, less hateful and more loving. Next time someone makes are snark comment towards you or ignores something you say to them, offer them up in prayer because there might be something more going on than just a bad day or week.

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10. Being around children is a great way to bring joy and simplicity into your life. I LOVE kids and I am so thankful that I went to a school that loves encouraging students to do service work. Every year, the juniors and seniors at my high school don’t come to school for two weeks and instead are assigned to service sites in our area of town. Both years I was put in preschools and let me tell you, preschoolers can teach you a lot. My junior year I was at a low-income Catholic school and this last spring I was at a preschool for kids with special needs. Both experiences taught me a lot of different things, but probably most prevalent was the joy that comes with simplicity. I also experienced this when I went on the senior mission trip to Belize, almost exactly a year ago, where we worked at a school as well. I had never felt so joyful and at peace as I did when I was down in Belize and I know it was due to the simplicity of life down there. The children in all three of the schools I worked at over the last two years helped me to appreciate simplicity. Every time I think about these experiences, all I remember was the joy I felt, no matter how hard the work was. For me, this is the beauty of children. I would tell anyone who needs a little more joy in their life to surround themselves with children and act like them no matter how old you are.

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11. There is a lot to learn from your faults and the faults of others. Nobody is perfect which is something I always remind myself about myself and really everyone around me. I am far from perfect but I have the opportunity to either repeat my own mistakes, or learn from them. In the same way I learn a lot from examining the mistakes of everyone around me. Honestly, this goes for anyone who has some sort of influence in your life: teachers, coaches, friends, family members, etc. How are we ever going to stop being mean or self-indulged if we continue the cycle. There was a commercial on TV for awhile and might still be on where there was a chain reaction of random acts of kindness. I love it because everyone seems to feed off of each others’ emotions. What I have learned to work on is to not feed off of the negative actions and emotions of others, but instead turn it into something positive. My best friend always does this and it always makes everyone around her so much happier.

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12. If you work hard for something you are passionate about, it will pay off in the long run. For me, this was the pro-life club I started with two other girls in my class. We worked so hard to get it running and ended up having extremely successful events and turn outs for meetings. Because of this, we were awarded the Students for Life New High School Club of the Year Award at the March for Life this January. We all saw the award as God being proud of what we started. Now that high school is over for us, we passed leadership down to some amazing underclassmen who are going to accomplish even more than we ever could have dreamed about. So no matter what you are passionate about, if you work hard to achieve your goals, the hard work will pay off in the long run, just remember that God’s timing is perfect even for your own goals.

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13. Put God at the center of ALL your relationships. Everyone always says this for romantic relationships, but I have realized this is important even in simple friendships. Of course this is SUPER important in romantic relationships, I don’t think I could date a guy who I wasn’t comfortable praying or taking about God with. It also helps with keeping a pure, chaste relationship because if God is part of the relationship for both of you, you know that He is keeping you responsible for your actions. One of the biggest parts of my relationship right now is going to Adoration with my boyfriend. It keeps us stronger because God is at the center of our relationship, not worldly pleasures. In the same way, I am comfortable talking about God with almost all of my girl friends and the relationships where He is most present are the strongest ones. Whether it’s my friends and I going to lunchtime mass at school together, or letting my friends know I am praying for them, God being a part of our friendship makes for a stronger relationship. I think it is the most beautiful aspects of my friendships and something I am going to seek in the new relationships I form in college.

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14. There are plenty of good guys out there. One of my BIGGEST pet peeves is when girls say “all boys are stupid and gross.” Unfortunately, there are a lot of guys out there who support this idea, but by no means is that universally true. In these last four years I have met a ton of AMAZING guys who do exactly what the picture above says. Many of them I have met through my boyfriend (who is definitely one of these guys), and they have become some of my closest friends. I always find myself coming to their defense because I unfortunately always hear girls saying this. I understand that many girls have been hurt by guys who aren’t like this, so I try to remind girls that there are awesome guys out there. I am so thankful that God has put these wonderful men into my life so I can remind myself, and the girls around me, to keep our standards high so we are not hurt by the bad boys and are instead uplifted by the good guys. So if you’ve been hurt, know that there are plenty of good guys out there. Also know that you do not always need to be in a romantic relationship with a guy to be happy.

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15. Start each day with prayer. My school has a beautiful chapel that everyone passes by every morning when walking into school. Most people just walk by it without thinking twice about it, which really bothered me, so half way through junior year I decided to stop in for 5 minutes everyone morning and start the day in prayer, offering up anything that will come my way that day. The difference that morning prayer made in my life was substantial and I could not be more thankful for that blessing every morning. I always struggle with waking up early enough to pray so having the chapel right there was perfect for me since I liked to get to school early. This summer I am going to try to leave the house early for work and start each morning in the Adoration Chapel for just a few minutes. Starting your day with prayer is a simple reminder that God will be with you through anything you struggle with in that day. I pray these three prayers every morning and I think they are perfect morning offerings:

For protection and guidance throughout the whole day:

Angel of God, my Guardian dear to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen. 

That Mama Mary may help me be pure and loving of heart and show me how to love her Son as she does:

Remember,
O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help or sought thy intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins my Mother;
to thee do I come,
before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful;
O Mother of thy Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in thy clemency hear and answer me.
Amen.

That God may use me this day to do His will so that others may see Him in me this day.

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,

my memory, my understanding,

and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

Well I hope you enjoyed this post and I pray all those who are preparing for high school, or maybe are nowhere close to it, will remember and learn from the things I experienced. Thanks for reading and God bless all of you on your journeys!

XOXO, Emily

(I found all the pictures on Pinterest)

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