I came to a realization today that sort of hit me in the face. This time 10 years ago, I was starting my Freshman year of high school.
How was this possibly 10 years ago. Am I really that old? As I started to reflect back on the beginning of high school and what my life looked like a decade ago, I started reminiscing on the daily struggles and triumphs I faced back then. Some things seem like a world away, like the issue I was facing or the thing I was proud of doing was trivial compared to the great big world out there I now know. But in remembering some of these life events that took place in 9th grade, I realized that while the event itself might seem small, the lessons learned from them could be more than applicable to my life today as an almost 25-year-old. Funny how that works. Let’s take a look.
Thing that happened my Freshman year: I should have made the Varsity team.
I had worked my butt off that summer so that when the fall came, I would be more than ready to step into a varsity role on my high school swim team. But a few weeks into the season, I was put on JV. I was undoubtedly faster than a few girls that had made varsity, but the coach wanted to give the position to a few Senior girls who had spent their whole career on the JV squad. I remember how unfair I thought the whole situation was and how upset I had been to be cheated out of a position I deserved based on seniority.
Making the Varsity team is such a classic ‘high-school cliche’ of an issue. But in reality, the situation was really just a learning opportunity to prep for the struggles that all twenty-somethings deal with in the real world. We constantly work our butts off and strive to reach a goal, and when we do soar past our own expectations, we are often unrecognized or under-appreciated by our peers or superiors.
So my advice to myself 10 years ago and to myself today – keep working anyway. It will all pay off in the end.
Thing that happened my Freshman year: I had my first boyfriend.
Oh god. This section could be paragraphs. We are talking about boys here, after all. But let’s summarize it here – I had crushes on boys since I can remember, and in 9th grade, one of them finally liked me back. I can remember the emotions and feelings I had of walking through the first steps of a relationship and the innocence of it all.
But like most relationships at this phase of life, they fizzle and die or crash and burn and all parties are probably better for it, whether they realize it at the time or not. I remember crying so hard after he dumped me, feeling so unloved. I wanna give that girl a hug. She doesn’t know that 10 years down the road, she will have the best boyfriend a girl could ask for and be in the most loving, supportive, and happy relationship she’s ever experienced.
My advice to that girl in her first relationship – keep an open heart and love anyway, because everything all works out in the end.
Thing that happened my Freshman year: Mean girls.
And 6th grade. And 7th grade. And 8th, 10th, 11th, 12th….
It’s a fact of life – If you’re a female, you will deal with mean girls at some point in your existence. There isn’t a particular event that stands out to me for Freshman year (although if you ask my mom, I’m sure she would be able to remind me of a few traumatic experiences that I’ve just blocked my memory from). Just lots of little things here and there that add up to girls being catty to one another. And when you’re this young, you don’t understand why it’s happening. You don’t get why she said or did this, why you reacted a certain way, why all your friends suddenly seem to think you’re the odd one out.
As you all well know, this is a problem that really never ends in life. To this day we all still deal with ‘friends’ making low blow comments or passive aggressive acts that are meant to derail your self-esteem and leave you questioning yourself. The difference is, however, we can now choose to say ‘See ya never’ to those friends. We don’t have time for that bull*** in our lives. Back then, I can’t tell you how many hours I spent analyzing certain situations or ways to fit in with the crowd that was making me feel otherwise. Now I just don’t care about those people. I know who I am, what my values are, and how I want to be treated. If a ‘friend’ becomes catty and shallow, I no longer have a problem letting that friendship go. And I promise you, its not worth the hours of contemplation.
So my advice to me back then and now – Keep being a friend anyway. Ignore the haters, love yourself, and everything will all work out in the end.
I guess my advise for myself 10 years ago for any situation is to keep going. Ride through the storm. Sit tight and wait for the sunshine. But there’s no way to go around or skip out on any of life’s events – you have to go through it to come out on the other side. There is no shortcut in life to anywhere worth going.
That 14-year-old girl has so much to look forward to ahead of her – and I have a feeling, so does this 24-year-old.