Dear LFHS student,
I wrote a letter to freshman at the beginning of this year. If you read it, you would know it was filled with tips on adjusting to your new high school atmosphere: trying hard in school, actively joining clubs, and just giving high school a chance. But as the days of my senior year flew by, I began to realize more and more how much I had forgotten to say. A huge facet of the high school experience are those tangible moments of getting a test back or winning a tournament with your club or team that build up what you are: athlete, student, artist, actor, etc. But, when you are nearing the end of your high school career, those moments seem trivial in comparison to the moments you will face in high school that test who you are.
I think I can speak for any senior when I say who you surround yourself with is vital. They will love you, laugh with you and (at times) at you, be honest with you, and look out for you when you need it most. Your friend group may change throughout these years, while you may grow closer to and drift from certain people. Don’t let any amount of space stop you from being friends with or reaching out to someone. Although I have been blessed to have the same group of best friends for the past four years, we have experienced our sets of up and downs. There is a high probability that at some point you’re going to feel left out, unwanted, or the odd one out for some specific event or task. This feeling is never fun, but it’s life and you’re going to have to learn how to deal with it. In my mind you can do two things: Keep it inside, hold a grudge, and tamper a friendship; or just let it go, move on, and value your friendship more than one singular moment. It’s never good to stay in a toxic friendship, but people, especially your friends, will disappoint and hurt you at times and sometimes all you can do is forgive them. Often the best way to do that is giving them a second chance. The moments of uncontrollable laughter, stupid antics, and beautiful memories will always triumph over the few times you were hurt in the end. Nothing makes you value your friends more than the clock to high school winding down before your eyes. Don’t wait until it hits zero to appreciate them.
This may be cliche but it is equally important: don’t measure your self worth based on others’ opinions. I can remember being a freshman and sophomore and worrying about every word I said, mannerism I made, and look I gave. I was constantly preoccupied with what others thought of me. This preoccupation is something I believe most underclassman become hung up on. It’s extremely easy to let other people influence your view on yourself, falling into a detrimental routine of worry. Trust me, the constant worry of being approved by others will become daunting and eventually become impossible. You will never please everyone. Learn that and accept it now. You’re going to say something stupid, trip up the stairs, and call your teacher “mom” at least once in these four years. Don’t sweat it too much. In a school as small as Lake Forest, talk gets around quickly and details of people’s life often become public without their intention. It isn’t always easy to let go of the things one might hear about themselves from others. Try to not let it bother you when doing simple things in school, or have it keep running through your head, making you insecure about your every single move. Don’t feel like you need to tiptoe around certain events because you’re worried about others’ opinions. You’re going to have embarrassing moments, but accept them and move on. You’re in no way the only one. Hold your head high, you’re going to be happy you did . Stay and dance at the school dances, participate and attend school events like the pep rally or the emotional wellness walk–just make the most of the small or large moments in your high school career.
There are endless lessons I have learned throughout the four years that you will now, in turn, learn yourself. Experience will bring with it your own set of personal lessons.
A few final lessons of importance: Always put your friends before a girlfriend or boyfriend, you’ll regret missing out on the memories made. Appreciate and get to know your teachers. They are people who have personalities, stories, and wisdom they are ready to share with you. Be grateful for your life and the opportunities you are given. Don’t disgrace the chances you are given by not taking them. Your parents will unconditionally love you. Return and make that same love known and felt. Say thank you, give hugs, make gifts, and show gratitude towards the ones who raised you into the person that you are. Stop taking pictures solely of yourself. Take more of what’s around you–friends, family, pets, laughter, love, and pure joy. It’s okay to be wrong and make mistakes. Own up to them and show remorse. A stubborn head will always come back to bite you.
You’re going to change and mature at rate different than others. Don’t be afraid to grow up. It’s an amazing new chapter of your life. Be deliberate and strong, but careful with your words. They can hurt other people or make them feel valued–chose them wisely. All that said, never, ever be afraid to speak your mind. It will all get better. This is only four years of your life, embrace it and live it. Don’t wish this time away. Live it.
Washed up and almost out,
Tegan Morcott and Sara Eichelman