The past four years of my life have been some of the best, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t experience growth along the way. In fact, it is the personal growth that I have watched myself go through that makes my time at Orange Lutheran so important. Here are just 5 of the lessons I have learned since my freshman year that I will take with me when I graduate in the spring.

1. Nobody Cares What Type of Lunch Bag You Bring

While deciding between a brown paper bag and a Lululemon tote might not have been an obstacle for everyone, it was for me. I was self-consciously aware of what everyone might think if I picked the “wrong” one. And this didn’t apply only to lunch bags; I worried over outfits, binders, iPad cases, going to the bathroom alone, etc. I was so afraid of being judged that I missed the truth: nobody actually cares. I was the only one who noticed if my hair was a little messier than normal or if my shoes didn’t match my backpack. Nothing was as embarrassing as I thought it was, and once I realized that, I stopped living in fear of judgment.

2. You Can’t Love Others Without First Loving Yourself

This is probably one of the most important things I have learned, because it is exhausting trying to cultivate healthy relationships with others when you haven’t yet established that with yourself. It is immensely important to take care of your physical and mental health, especially during times of stress (which, unfortunately, come around pretty often in high school). This type of self-love includes becoming confident in the way you look and becoming comfortable with being alone. When I started driving, I found that I had a lot more alone time when I was in the car and I learned how to enjoy having fun on my own. This allowed me to become happier with myself and I was able to channel that into the relationships I had with others.

3. Your GPA Won’t Matter in Heaven

Yes, this is kind of a cliche, but come on! I can’t begin to count the many times I’ve cried over assignments or stayed up way too late trying to get something done. While doing good in school is a positive thing, it becomes negative when it starts taking over your life. Looking back, I wish I would have spent a little more time at the dinner table with my family rather than rushing upstairs to get in a few more math problems. I don’t regret how hard I worked for my grades, however, I do wish that I would have set my priorities straight a long time ago.

4. Don’t Take Your Friends For Granted

This is also another huge one. I’ve been lucky enough to have a solid group of friends throughout high school, but I didn’t always appreciate them like I should have. Friendships are one of the easiest things to push aside when life comes at you hard, which is what I did so many times. Instead of leaning on my friends when I was going through things, I would push them away in fear of being rejected. As we have grown as a friend group, I have learned that true friendship thrives in those hard times, and supporting each other is what makes connections so strong. Enjoy being young and having fun with those you surround yourself with, because it is these relationships that make high school so memorable.

5. Not Caring is Not Cool

I have found the most reward in high school by getting involved. Events like pep rallies, football games, and school dress up weeks give out as much as you put in, which can either make them lame and boring or incredibly exciting. It isn’t fun when nobody is involved and everyone is acting like they don’t care. Instead, that kind of attitude ruins the potential of an event. I have learned that a football game is better spent cheering wildly in the front row than sitting on the bleachers in the back, acting too cool for school spirit (which, FYI, nobody is). The benefit of getting involved extends to sports teams and extracurriculars as well; these are good places to make friends with people who have similar interests. Showing you care isn’t embarrassing; instead, it is what makes the high school experience so much fun.

Photo Credits: WordPress