This is the time of year when graduates, especially high school and college graduates, hear lots of advice on being successful in the next phase of their life. As a licensed counselor who works with high school students, I think it’s time for some advice for those who are going to begin one of the most important phases: High School.
High School: It’s not as hard as you think it will be.
You have probably heard by now from lots of people: High school is hard. Your 8th grade teachers have been telling you this all year. The good news is that it probably won’t be nearly as hard as you imagine. If you have done a pretty good job of being successful in 8th grade, then you will do fine in 9th grade.
It’s not that those people who have been warning you about high school are wrong or mean. I think we adults want to prepare you for what is coming up by warning you how hard it will be. But sometimes it backfires. When we adults tell you how hard it’s going to be, many students end up feeling hopeless and overwhelmed before high school even begins. High school is hard, but not that hard.
Your parents don’t know what’s best for you.
This is no news to you, I assume. But as a dad of an eighth grader going into high school, let me explain.
You parents know what is good for you, but they don’t know what is best for you. How could they? Although they know you quite well, they know very little of how you have changed in the past few years unless you have shared it with them. If you are an average teen, you probably haven’t shared much with them.
Only you know what is best for you. Your parents know what is good for you. They know the basics, but their advice is based on keeping you safe. They don’t know how much you really enjoy a certain sport, or music, or how important your friends are to you. Keep telling them. You parents can do a lot to help keep you from failing. But they can do very little to help you succeed and excel. Success…greatness…is up to you.
Ask for help.
You will not get far in life alone. If you think success means going it alone, you will have a hard time being successful. Asking for help does not mean you are lacking in something, it means you want to succeed in something.
I recently worked with a teenager who came to see me because her anxieties were getting in the way of her doing well in school. Her worries about success were making her exhausted. When she told a friend about working with me, her friend asked, “Don’t you feel bad that you can’t solve this on your own?” My client said to her, “Why would I feel bad? If there are people out there that can teach me something, I am going to learn. If I don’t, then I’ll be stuck.”
If you don’t understand something, ask for help. When a teacher asks, “Are there any questions?” raise your hand. I would say don’t worry about the other students, but that’s too hard. Just don’t let the worry stop you from asking for help. Yes, it might be embarrassing, but don’t let those feelings get in the way of asking for help.
You are more important than your friends.