5 Things My Senior Year Taught Me

I have five days left of my senior year. I'm a puddle of nostalgia, stress, and nerves right now, but that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking of all I've already learned this year. Since I have only five days left, I thought it would be nice if I shared with you the five biggest things I've learned this year:

1. I am not the same person I was on August 16th, 2017. 
I have changed so much since I started at this new school, but most of that change happened this school year. At the beginning of the school year, I wrote a piece where I mentioned that I had no idea what this school year would hold, and I was totally right about that. So much happened this year that I couldn't have anticipated- some of it good, and some of it bad. A lot changed this year, the main thing being myself. I am definitely not the same person I was  when this school year began. From senior survival, to being part of SA, to quitting my job, to crying in multiple classrooms, to music tour, to now with five days to go, I've changed a lot, but in good ways. I've become stronger, and I've become more myself than I was nine months ago. 

2. Who people see you as isn't necessarily who you actually are. 
You aren't always who people think you are. You also aren't necessarily what your accomplishments are. You aren't just the person who is part of SA. You aren't just the person who was part of the musical. You aren't just the person who spoke for Student Week of Prayer. Yes, you are those things. Those are accomplishments that you should be proud of, but they don't make up your entire being. Those things are a part of you, but they aren't all of you. Who you are perceived to be isn't who you are, and that can be a really good thing. 

3. Friendships grow, change, and sometimes disappear. 
I had a lot of friends move away for school this year, and that was really hard. Luckily I haven't totally lost touch with any of them, but my friendships with them have changed a lot. Instead of seeing them in class every day, I now call one of them every so often and respond to Instagram stories of others. I've also had a friendship completely disappear this year without really noticing it, and while that's sad, I've realized that I'm better off because of it, and I think they are too. 

4. I have a really strong intuition. 
I also knew that my gut is never wrong about things, but it wasn't until the beginning of this year that I realized just how strong my intuition is. A lot of people don't believe me when I tell them something that I suspect, but then when that thing happens a couple months later, I realize that I'm not totally crazy after all and was actually correct all along. This isn't always a good thing, though, and that's something else I learned this year. 

5. Although there are hard moments, overall I have a really good life. 
On any given day, I am surrounded by amazing, talented, beautiful, kind people. I have spectacular teachers who challenge my thinking and encourage my intellectual side. I have friends who support me and a family who loves me. Up until this year, I knew that I was privileged in many areas and that I was blessed in ways others weren't, but it wasn't until this school year that I realized just how true that really was. I'm so thankful for the life that I have, and I'm thankful for the life I'm in the process of building for myself. 


It's been a good year. A long year, but a good year. Before I go, I thought I'd share what I wrote at the beginning of this year, right after my first day: "The thing that gets me the most is that three years and five days ago I had no idea what was to come. I didn’t know any of the people I would soon meet, and I had no clue how they’d affect me in the long term. I hadn’t failed the tests or passed the finals yet. I hadn’t been to those disaster banquets or those amazing ones yet. I hadn’t cried in bathroom stalls yet or jumped for joy with my soon to be best friends yet. When I think about it that way, I can’t help but think that I, in this moment, have no idea what this next year has in store me. And that, my friends, is a really exciting idea." (read the whole post here)

I was right, I didn't know. I didn't know about the rejection or heartbreak or failure this year would bring, or the many wonderful changes. I didn't know about the friendships I would make or the essays I would ace yet. I didn't know that I'd speak for Student Week of Prayer or go to England or spend hours in coffee houses with my best friends. I was right about something else, too- it's exciting to not know what's to come. I don't know what will happen this summer, or next school year, or any other year after that. And that's exciting. It really is. 

17 Things I Learned While Being 17

My 18th birthday is in THREE DAYS! This year has been a whirlwind, with so much happening and so many things being planned, and 18 is looking to be quite the amazing age. But before I look too far ahead, I thought it would be nice to look back at 17 and find some of the things I learned. 

1. I don't have to be good at Chemistry. 

I really wish I had realized this at the beginning of my Junior year, but I didn't. I can't tell you how many times I walked out of the Chemistry lab and thought I was the stupidest person in the world because I couldn't understand or remember anything I had just been taught. The thing is, I didn't have to be good at Chemistry. I passed the class, and that is what matters. I am good at many other things, and Chemistry doesn't need to be one of them. This applies to so many other things. I don't have to pass my written DMV test the first time (or the second), I don't have to read every book everyone else is reading, and I don't have to good at the same things as everyone else. I am my own person, and I don't have to be good at everything. 

2. Send your writing places. 

Seriously. Because this (7:22) was pretty cool. 

3. The people I met in the past year are in my life for a reason.

For some, I don't know the reason, but for others, I can pinpoint exactly when I realized the reason they had been placed in my life and I had been placed in theirs. I am so incredibly thankful for everyone that is in my life, and I am especially grateful for the people I have met in the past year who have changed my life for the better. 

4. Don't be afraid to leave a plan behind (i.e. cut your hair)

Remember back in February when I cut 7 inches off my hair? I am very happy I did that because it allowed me to prove to myself that I can steer away from a plan if I want and are able to. I'm growing my hair out again because I do want to eventually donate it, but I'm glad I cut it eight months ago. 

5. Go to basketball games, banquets, vespers, and other events.

PARTICIPATE IN THINGS!! Some of my favorite memories of this year happened at events I was hesitant about going to, and I am so happy I ended up going. However, I also learned that when I'm emotionally exhausted from an especially long week, it's okay to say no when I'm asked to go to a Saturday night basketball game. Sometimes going to an event when I'm already feeling uneasy and anxious can make those uncomfortable feelings worse, and I'm glad I've learned to notice when that may be the case. 

6. Be okay with months of not creating anything.

It took me a long time to get back into songwriting (I didn't write one from September 2016 to April 2017), but once I did it felt great. One of the most important things that I learned this year was that creative droughts are not bad, in fact they can be used to recharge my creative energy by soaking up other people's creativity. I used to beat myself up if I didn't finish a certain number of projects in a month, and I'm glad I've learned that that is not the best way to go about things. 

7. I can be so open minded that I become closed minded. 

This was a tough one. As you well know by now, I have a tendency to be very opinionated and quick to say what I think. This year I have been exposed to different ways of thinking, and some of the people I have met have become incredibly good friends that I can talk to about our differences and we can still leave the conversation feeling respected. However, this year I have also had the opposite experience where I have met some people I strongly disagree with and it has been really hard to remain calm in those situations. But I'm still learning, and that's okay. 

8. Communication, communication, communication...

Seriously. If you have something you need or want to talk about, talk about it. Also, "better late than never" doesn't always work, so talking sooner than later is always best. 

9. Your feelings are justified simply because you're feeling them.

Even if you end up being wrong (and don't realize you were wrong until five months later), it's okay to feel whatever you needed to feel. Asking for help doesn't make you weak, but in fact makes you stronger. Crying doesn't mean you can't control your emotions, it simply means you're human. Feelings are hard to navigate, but whether they are good or bad they are always okay to have. 

10. There are people who will do bad things. 

I am of the mindset that people are inherently good, and I will always believe that. However, I have had to learn this year that some people are going to do bad things. Some people will break your trust, treat the people you love with utter horror, and turn out to be different than you thought. But there are also good people. There are people who will lift you up when you are down, and there are people who will be there when you need them. Those people will always be there. 

11. Don't leave it, change it.

But if you've tried your best and it simply cannot be changed for whatever reason, walk away knowing that you tried your best. (Just to be clear, I'm not applying this to relationships. There are some relationships that simply cannot be fixed and it's always best to leave them.)

12. Where people are in their own lives will affect how big a part they can play in your life.

A hard lesson to learn, but definitely one of the most important. 

13. Be adventurous.

In July I visited Seattle and stayed with one of my Mom's friends from college. I hadn't really thought about it until my first night there, but I had never actually met her before staying with her. Even so, those few days turned out to be some of the most important and amazing of my entire year. 

14. I'm not an outdoors-y kind of person, and that's okay.

I don't like bugs. I don't like seven mile hikes up steep hills. I don't like being out of cell service for more than a day. But I do like sleeping under the stars. I do like waking up in a sleeping bag and feeling a cool breeze. I do like smaller hikes with my friends and family. I've talked about this a LOT lately, but if Senior Survival taught me one thing, it was to be okay with not liking things. 

15. Your mentality and your priorities will change.

Last year, I was convinced I'd learned everything I was supposed to learn while in high school. It's only the beginning of the second quarter, and I've learned so many things about myself, the people I love, and life in general, so obviously I was wrong. Different things are important to me now, and the things that mattered SO MUCH last year now seem almost trivial, but in a good way. Growing up is scary, but parts of it are okay. 

16. Live in the questions, instead of spending all your time looking for the answers.

To be honest, I'm still working on this one. But this quote from Letters to a Young Poet is helping: "You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can... to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to the love the questions themselves like locked rooms and books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then, gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant say into the answer." (Letter 4)

17. Surround yourself with creativity.

In September of this year, I went to my first poetry slam. I spent the next few days happier than I've been in a while simply because I was surrounded by creativity and smart, insightful people for about three hours. I loved every second of it, and it just reinforced how much I want to live a creative life, with creative people, doing creative things. It also taught me that in order to do that, I need to surround myself with creativity more. 

_________

Sixteen was a year where I was going up and up, and then crashed down before slowly starting back up. Seventeen, on the other hand, was far more balanced. It was a roller coster that went up, and then down, and then started over. Even so, I wouldn't trade the bad things for anything. After all, those moments are what gave me these seventeen lessons. Eighteen is looking to be a wonderful, busy, spectacular year filled with so many good things, and I'm very excited. To seventeen, I'm not sure if I'll miss you. You were the kind of year I needed, but not necessarily the one I wanted. Still, thank you. Thank you for the good things, and also for the bad things. Although I'm happy to leave you behind, I believe I will still look back on you fondly. 

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Not Just Beowulf & Chemistry: 3 Things I Learned My Junior Year

Technically, my Junior year is not over.  However, considering that it will be over in only a few days, I have put together a list of things I learned during my Junior Year. 

1. Being the new kid is hard.

When I made the decision to go to the school that I'm going to, I also made the decision to not go to the school where I knew someone. I chose to not go to that school simply because I liked the campus of my school better (it had a good vibe), and I didn't know the other girl very well anyway. However, on August 18th at around 8:00 a.m., knowing someone even a little bit would have been appreciated. It took me a long time to find my place, but once I did I was okay. Being the new kid is hard, but I'm so glad I did it. I was thinking a couple days ago that I have never been that terrified since, but I'm sure there will be moments in the future when that pit of dread in my stomach will return. I am a firm believer in everything happening for a reason, and I'm positive that I needed the experience of being new to be able to do whatever scary thing I will one day accomplish. 

2. Asking for help is hard, but necessary. 

Especially when it comes to the classes that aren't your favorite. All of you know how much I didn't like Chemistry, but when I finally got the help I needed, it wasn't as bad. If I could go back and change one thing about this year, it would be asking for help much sooner. Of course, this isn't just a lesson for the academic side of school. There were times when I had to ask for help because I was feeling so anxious about something and needed someone to listen, or tell me if something I wrote made any sense, or sometimes just a hug. I hate asking for help, I really do, but I had to do that a lot this year, and even though I don't like it any more than I have in the past, I've learned that sometimes it really is necessary, and that you don't need to hold everything by yourself. 

3. Trying new things is important. 

This school year happened to be the year where I tried a lot of new things, and I definitely think that contributed to this year being as amazing as it was. Because of trying new things, I learned how to roller skate, I learned how to audition for musicals, I learned to not throw up before delivering a speech, and so many other things. Actually, this whole year was just one big new thing. I had never gone to a new school where I didn't know anyone (okay, that's not entirely true, but I had never had my first day at a new school where I didn't know anyone), and like I said earlier, I'm sure that the fact I was able to do that will one day be an important skill (skill?) to have. 

When I started my Junior year, I was of the mindset that everyone who said it was the hardest year of high school was just over exaggerating. It definitely wasn't as hard as people made it seem, but it was hard. However, it was also wonderful. As the year draws to a close, I can honestly say that I am happy. Everything that has happened since last August has shaped me in some way, shape, or form, and I'm thankful for that. I can already tell that so much is going to change next year, but honestly? I'm excited for it. I'm not as afraid of change as I used to be, and maybe that's the fourth thing I learned this year: Change is scary, but it's also good. You don't have to be afraid of it. Change, with all of its possible problems and heartache, can bring such happiness into our lives. I've gained a lot of happiness and clarity this year, and I can't wait to see what happens next. 

I Cut My Hair and My Reasons Are Three-Fold

So, last week I cut my hair. I have my reasons, and they are three-fold. They are as follows:

1) Wanting to see if I can handle going away from a detailed plan and doing something that is somewhat impulsive, 

2) Wanting to challenge the confidence I think I've found in the last few years while having long hair.

3) Missing having short hair/wanting the freedom of having short hair.

These are all things that I was reminding myself of when I was sitting in the chair watching the very nice woman behind me chop off seven inches of my hair. Before I delve into why I wanted to cut my hair, let's look at why I grew it out in the first place... 

When I was in third grade and then later in seventh grade, I cut my hair really short (not really, really short, but short). I liked it at first, and slowly began to hate it. All the other girls in my class had very long hair, and having shorter hair seemed like one more thing that made me different from them. Looking back at pictures of me from both grades, I'd say the color of my hair was more noticeable than the length, but whatever. Right before my eighth grade graduation, I got a trim and bangs, and I vowed to grow out my hair so that when I graduated high school my hair would be beautiful, long, flowy, and worthy of envy. 

This is how we come to my first reason for wanting short hair. I'd had this plan for almost three years, and my high school graduation is starting to sneak up on me. I'm not a spontaneous person, and I very rarely do something impulsive. In fact, I think I can count on one hand the times I've slipped away from something I had planned out carefully. I am also someone who finds it hard to leave a plan behind, so the fact I didn't think about cutting my hair off too much before actually doing it is surprising. However, if I'm honest, this was the easiest reason to follow through with. I mean, I already cut my hair. I know I can go away from a plan and be okay with it. I love having short hair, and I hadn't realized how much I missed it until I had it again. 

My second reason for wanting to cut my hair was to challenge my confidence. In the last two years, I've grown my hair out to the longest it's been and my confidence has been the highest it's ever been, and I wanted to make sure those two things weren't related. I don't want my confidence to come from what I look like, although I still think it's important for people to like how they look. I want my confidence to come from the inside. I want to be able to try new things without worrying about looking silly or stupid while doing it. I don't want my hair to be a security blanket of sorts that I use to cover up the things I don't like about myself. This is hardest part of my cutting my hair, and hopefully I learn something new about myself and grow. 

My final reason for cutting my hair is the simplest: I wanted short hair. When I was younger I loved having short hair because I thought I looked older. I wouldn't say that now, but I still love it. My hair feels healthier and my head is definitely lighter than it was before. When I say I wanted "the freedom of having short hair" I mean the freedom from having huge knots and tangles in the back, but I also mean what I mentioned earlier: the freedom of changing my mind and doing something that wasn't planned. 

So, yeah. I cut my hair. It's pretty short, but I still love it. Oh, and happy March everybody! Even if it isn't something as drastic as cutting seven inches off your hair, I hope you can find something new that makes you happy this month. 

 Before... 

Before... 

 ... After :-) 

... After :-) 

16 Things I Learned While Being 16

1. Find things to be thankful for everyday...

But don't base all your happiness on someone else. Find beauty and joy in the ordinary, and tell people you love that you love them. 

2. When you have the chance to go to a concert, go to the concert...

School will be there tomorrow. Troye Sivan won't be. 

3. Believe in your own abilities...

Just because someone is really athletic, doesn't mean that you can't run fast. Just because someone gets better scores on tests than you, doesn't mean that you aren't smart. There is always going to be someone out there who is better than you, but that doesn't mean that you aren't talented, brilliant, and funny. You have so many incredible qualities that make you an amazing, unique human being. Believe in those qualities. 

4. Keep trying...

Try out for everything that you want to be a part of, and if you don't get in or get the part? Yeah, go ahead and cry in a high school bathroom stall at 10:00 in the morning, but don't think that just because you weren't right for something at that moment, you won't be right for it EVER. Keep trying at the things that are important to you, and don't give up. Perseverance. It's a good thing.   

5. Be okay with letting friendships go...

Even though it's important to keep trying and to not give up at the first sign of trouble, sometimes there are situations where you need to do just that. If a friendship or relationship isn't working anymore, it's okay to let it go and not feel guilty about it. Sometimes it's no one's fault, it just wasn't working anymore. You don't need to feel guilty for removing yourself from a relationship that makes you feel unhappy.

6. Don't let rejection change how you see yourself...

This kind of goes along with what I said about persevering and not giving up when something doesn't work out, but not letting rejection change how you see yourself is so important that I think it deserves its own number. Just because you were rejected from something or someone does not mean that you aren't a good person who has many brilliant things to offer the world. 

7. Don't define yourself by your grades...

Grades do not equal intelligence. Test scores do not equal intelligence. Just because someone got a better grade on something than you DEFINITELY does NOT mean that you aren't smart. 

8. Believe in more than one kind of beautiful...

Everyone has something that is beautiful about them. EVERYONE. Countrysides and city lights are both beautiful, but if they looked the same, they wouldn't be as spectacular anymore. There is something beautiful about everyone, inside and out. It's high time that we all started to believe in more than one kind of beautiful. 

9. Show people your music...

It's scary, and it requires a huge sense of vulnerability, but it's worth it. Even if you share it with one person over text, it's worth it.

10. Learn how to be alone without being lonely...

Find peace in solitude, and beauty in silence. It is in the times that we are alone that we discover things about ourselves that we never would have discovered otherwise. 

11. Read everything you can get your hands on...

Sixteen was the year that I read a lot. I had made it my ambition to read 16 while being 16, and I did it (list of books I read has been posted!) Read the books you don't think you'll like, and certainly don't judge a book on it's cover.    

12. Read poetry...

It makes you a better writer and human being. 

13. Tell teachers you appreciate them when you have the chance...

You'll regret it later if you don't.

14. Know that with every mistake, there is a lesson to be learned...

Apologize when you've done something wrong, and forgive yourself as well. Learn from your mistakes, and be honest with yourself.

15. Don't think that new friends are limited to those in the same grade as you...

Sometimes the people in your class aren't as compatible with your spirit as you wish they were. It's okay to make friends outside of your class, and it may be the best decision you make all year. 

16. Wait, it gets better...

Your tears will dry, and your happiness will return. Just give it a little time.   

 

Sixteen was such an amazing age, and I'm going to miss it terribly. But here's to seventeen, I know it can only get better. 

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