This week was the last week of full classes for the Rockwall-Heath High School Class of 2016. So the last normal day of high school for us seniors.
As I sat through the last installment of the 9-period, 45 minute schedule I’d known for so long, I couldn’t help but think back to my first day of high school, August 27, 2012. I remember sitting out in the car with my dad and brother in the school parking lot, waiting for 8:35 to roll around so we could go inside and start our four-year journey. I remember feeling anxious, but I couldn’t really put my finger on why.
Naturally, as my thoughts progressed, I asked myself, “What would I change if I could go back to that time? What would I want my little, scrawny freshman self to know?”
If I could write myself a letter, it’d go something like I’ve written below. Some of the specifics my be only personally applicable, but I believe the central message can be related to by all.
Dear Younger Me-
As hard as it may be to believe right now, high school does in fact come to an end. It goes by faster than you think, too.
Right now, you might be thinking you’re ready coast through these next four years, grow up, and do the bare minimum classwork. But really, over these next four years, you’re going to learn so much more than you could ever experience in the classroom.
My first piece of advice is to be diligent in your studies. With your attitude as a freshman, you’re destined for failure. Sure, you’re in all Pre-AP classes, but you’ve got to put in the correct amount of effort to be successful in those courses. It’s extremely important to seek help when you don’t understand. God has placed you in a situation with a supportive family and a wonderful opportunity for education that others in this world simply don’t have. Don’t take it for granted. Set your pride aside, it’s O.K. to go to tutoring. No one will think anything less of you. It took me almost half of high school to come to this realization, but I advise you take it coming in.
I advise you to take risks. Don’t be afraid or hesitant to try out for that team. What’s the worst they can do, say no? You’re far from defined from your athletic ability. And mind not those who are mean to you because you’re not as good as them at sports. It’s really not that important. Relish in opportunities to go somewhere new with your friends or try new things. These new experiences are accentuated when you’re around those who you care about. Take that class that the students in the grade above you said was too hard. Experience those type of things for yourself, and grow in that new knowledge. Don’t be afraid to make new friends and start new relationships. Ask for her number, but be respectful about it. As golden as you might think your intentions are, others might not be as open to them as you are, and might not fully understand. And when you inevitably face rejection, don’t let your emotions hinge on their decision. Rather, place your faith in God’s plan and refrain from questioning his actions.
Realize that you are blessed. So far in your life, God has blessed you with the best family you could ask for, and a very healthy situation. If you have the opportunity to go somewhere or do something special, take it. That being said, don’t take it for granted. Use your blessings as a springboard to spread Joy, placing Jesus first, Others second, and then assessing your needs last. Go out of your way to spread God’s love. Hold the door for classmates you might not know. When you’re friend is in a bind, offer to cover their lunch.
Embrace the changing nature of High School social life. Fortunately, your core group of friends will stick around until the end. However, certain individuals will head their separate ways, and new friends will come along. Capitalize on opportunities to meet new friends. Don’t be upset or indifferent about this, but rather enjoy it, as the friends you end up with are pretty great.
Avoid hate at all costs. This is a tough one. Perhaps the most tough of them all. Especially in a situation with fellow students who might not grasp this concept. You’re inevitably going to fail, but do your best to refrain from judgement, no matter what the situation. Remember that you’re just as sinful as them. It might come as a news flash, but people are going to be mean to you sometimes. They might going to ignore you, reject you, or say mean things about you. Don’t let them disturb your peace, for the peace you have with Christ’s love overwhelms any other emotion. It is also of the utmost importance that you do not reciprocate their anger in response to this. Hate towards others is simply not worth occupying your thoughts, and impeding on your joy.
Most importantly, I implore that you develop an elevated sense of trust. One of your greatest weaknesses is your lack of trust and disposition to give into anxiety. Plan as well as you can, but ultimately accept the fact that God has a plan for you that is so much more beautiful than anything your weak mind can comprehend. Hitch your wagon to God’s plan, and abandon all-out faith in the plan of your own.
I know in reality you’ll never get this. And that’s part of the beauty of life. We can’t go tell our past selves what’s going to happen, and what to change. That being said, the decisions you made over these past four years have helped make me the man I am today, and I think if you could see yourself at this point, you’d be proud.
Guess I’ll see you in the mirror one day.
Love, Your future self