10 Things I Would Tell My High School Self

10 Things I WouldTell My High School

This June marks 17 years since I graduated high school.  That seems so crazy to me because it doesn’t feel like 17 years have passed.  I don’t feel like I am old enough to have been out of high school for that long!  No wise comments either!  Hahaha….

A lot has happened in these fast 17 years though.  Some things I wish I had done differently and some choices I wish I would have never made.  But every thing that has happened has shaped me into who I am today and for that I am grateful.

With that being said, there are some things I wish I could go back and tell the young woman I was, but as we know, it’s hard to tell a teenager anything, so would I have listened?  It’s hard to say.  I thought I knew it all and sometimes, there isn’t anything anyone can say to you; you have to learn it for yourself.

Here are 10 things I would tell my high school self:

  1. These really are the days of your life.  I’m not going to say the BEST days of your life because that would imply that there’s nothing to look forward to as an adult.  Also, high school is hard.  Not necessarily in terms of the course work, but it terms of fitting in and making friends.  But these will most likely be the most carefree days of your life.  You will have responsibilities, but in most cases not like you will in adulthood.  Make the most of your high school career- join clubs, play sports, write for the newspaper, run for student council- don’t be afraid.
  2. Don’t spend so much time comparing yourself to others.  You don’t know what their story is and chances are they are just as insecure as you are!  Everyone has a struggle and comparing yourself to someone who you think has it “all” is unfair to yourself.  You are every bit as smart, pretty, funny, athletic, whatever, as they are, you just have to believe it and then cultivate that belief.  Most people are not born with the ability to get a 4.0 GPA.  It takes work and you’re not putting in all the work you could be.  Learn to love your curly hair; it really isn’t the Afro you think it is- didn’t you see that girl at school with the new perm?  People pay big bucks to have what you have naturally!
  3. You get to decide who you are.  You are not defined by who you hang out with- well to a degree.  There is something called guilt by association, it’s not necessarily fair but it’s true.  If you’re hanging out with a crowd that is known to regularly shoplift, even if you don’t, people will assume you do.  They’re not going to take the time to get to know the kids like you have, so be careful and choose your friends wisely.  You get to decide if you’re a shoplifter too or a music geek, a drama nerd, or a loner.  You may hang with all sorts of people but you don’t have to fit a label that others have placed on you.  Your grades also do not determine who you are.  You may not get the best grades but that is because you need to try harder, not because you are a slacker.  What I am saying is this, you have a choice in the person you want to be.  You don’t have to be what other people have said you are; so you mother told you that Lisa gives up when the going gets hard, but why does she get to decide that?  You are YOU, you decide when you “give up” and when you push harder!  You don’t have to go with the flow and just do what is expected of you.  You have a say in how your life is going to go and once you graduate, you will have the ONLY say in how your life is going to go, so you better start thinking for yourself.
  4. Don’t waste so much time on unattainable guys.  I don’t mean unattainable like they are out of your league.  ANY boy would be lucky to spend time with you!  I mean boys who don’t see your worth, your beauty, and who treat you badly.  You never know who could be looking at you while you are chasing boys not worth your time.  I know, you thought you loved him.  He was fun to hang out with and you two were like best friends.  You seemed to understand him but he treated you like crap most of the time.  Don’t you know you deserve more?  He had a lot deeper issues than you could have known and one day you two will make peace, but please know that his treatment of you had FAR more to do with him than you. However, that does NOT mean you should marry the first guy who really pays attention to you and makes you feel special.  Just trust me on this one.
  5. Don’t waste too much time on boys, period.  You need to discover who you are, independent of boys.  This is also one of the things that doesn’t define you- whether or not you have a boyfriend.  At no point in your life should you ever base your happiness or self-worth on having a man.  I am not saying that down the road a loving and respectful relationship won’t be worth it because it is totally worth it.  You need to find out what makes you happy, what your goals and dreams are, what experiences and memories you wish to create for yourself, and then see how having a relationship fits into that.  Build your life around you and the rest will fall into place.
  6. Being popular and having a lot of friends really isn’t all that important.  As the old saying goes, I’d rather have 4 quarters than 100 pennies.  You probably don’t fully grasp that concept right now but let me tell you, I know a LOT of people, but very few would I call a true friend.  Not everyone is as kind and trusting as you are.  They won’t nurture your friendship the way you do.  You’ll learn this the hard way over the years.  What is important is being a good person despite what others may do to you.
  7. You are NOT fat!!!  You may not be a size 2 or even an 10, but you are perfect just the way you are.  Your body does not define your worth either!  (see previous blog post:http://bit.ly/1BtLJuO)  You are healthy but you could be taking better care of yourself, you know exercising and eating better.  Overall though, you have a great body!  We are bombarded every day with images of what the media wants us to believe is attractive but it’s not realistic or healthy sometimes.  God gave you the body you need to carry you through life, imperfections and all.  Treat it kindly and respect it for the vessel that it is.
  8. It’s okay to not know what you want to be when you grow up.  I don’t know why “they” think that an 18 year-old knows what they want to do for the rest of their lives!  Seriously, there is too much pressure put on kids to decide their life’s course early on in life, most times before they even truly know WHO they are, let alone WHAT they want to do for the next 50+ years!  College is important and you should go, if not for a career path then for the life lessons you will learn.  Just try not to rack up too much debt!  Live your life a bit, discover your passion, do what makes your insides sing, give back something meaningful to this world.  Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to know it all when you graduate high school!
  9. Go on your class trip!  I’m not sure why you think that staying home and hanging out with your new boyfriend is a good choice.  This is your first opportunity to experience life outside of Maine.  And NYC?!?!  Are you nuts?  I can’t think of a better way to kick off your new-found freedom than a trip to New York City with your best friends!  You should have participated in more fundraisers throughout the years so you wouldn’t feel so guilty about asking your parents for the money.  Or you could have saved money from the 3 jobs you have had all these years!  Start taking advantage of your life!  Once you are settled down, there won’t be too many chances for travel.  Which leads me to…
  10. Save all the $$ you’re spending on cd’s and other useless crap and use it to travel and experience life before college or starting a family!!  If there is just one thing I could impress upon you the most, it is to live your life before you commit yourself to others.  Be you for a while before you become a wife and a mother.  Motherhood is the most amazing thing, but it can wait.  Being a wife can wait.  You can be a girlfriend and still live your life.  If he’s the right man for you, he will support you in this.  He will want you to be wholly YOU so you can reach your full potential.  The world holds many lessons and adventures for you, so let go of your fear of being alone, let go of your need to make everyone else happy, and focus on what makes YOU happy!  Relationships and jobs will come and go but you will always be with you.  Make sure you don’t have any regrets and learn from each mistake you make. Oh, and all that cash you blew on tapes and cd’s?  One day there will be these things called iTunes and YouTube and it will amaze you how you can get all the music you want from them, sometimes for FREE!  No one listens to cd’s anymore and all the ones you have bought end up in a closet, like some sort of shrine….save your money!

There it is, the things I would tell myself if I could go back in time.  I’d like to think that I would at least listen and consider the advice.  It’s easy to say that I am grateful for my life experiences thus far because it’s not like I can turn back the clock.  But I truly believe I am where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing.  Of course there is room for improvement and some of this advice for my old self holds true for who I am today.  I hope to instill these messages in my two children so that one day they won’t look back and say they wished someone had told them this information in high school.

Tell me what you wish someone would have told you in high school in the comment section below!

 

Bulletin Board Themes

My previous post centered around creating the Community Corner and today I would like to share some of the themes I have used.  The kids look forward to the first day of the month because they know I will have made something cool and personalized!

I made a promise to you, my readers, that I would keep things real here and the reality of this post is:  I have lost some of the pictures I had of my finished bulletin boards.  I have no idea where they are since I had been saving them directly into my blog photos file.  It happens.  But to be honest, the ones I lost weren’t my best work!  I was just starting out and the more I do it, the better and more in depth they get.  I did make a really awesome one with hot air balloons that I no longer have a picture of and that makes me sad, but I guarantee you I will make a better one!  I already have an idea in mind!

So what follows is what I do have.  I hope you will find inspiration to do something similar in your own home.

I am going to attach the templates I used as well.  I tend to be a perfectionist, so when I made the rainbow  for the March board, I cut out the entire shape and traced it onto a piece of construction paper and then proceeded to cut out each stripe from the template and trace it onto the corresponding color.  I glued each color on individually.  I did the same thing for the leprechaun!  Even  the gold buckle and the black center is cut out separately.  A lot of people would probably use some fancy machine, like a Cricut, to do this.  I don’t have the money for one of those and I like to use what I have.  Crafting tends to be therapeutic for me anyway.  There’s something amazing about that crunch construction paper makes when cut by sharp scissors!  Yes, I have special craft scissors and I better not catch anyone using them for ANYTHING else!

If you would like to use one of the templates I have included, you will need to open up the gallery by clicking on it, next you will need to right click on the image, and choose to save it.  Depending on the size of the space you will be using, you may need to enlarge/reduce the size.

I will add new months as they come and repost!

 

Community starts at home!

Chaos reigned in the months after my 2012 divorce.  I lost sight of disciplining and as many parents often do, I felt guilty (a common theme in parenting!).  My daughter was fast approaching “tween-dom” and my son had just turned 4.  I saw the problems lying ahead but I felt bad for what they were going through.  I knew my daughter was hitting puberty with all the raging hormones that entails and they both were struggling to see where they fit in with all the changes.  I had just returned to work a few months prior to the divorce after having stayed home for nearly 3 years and we were all trying to get into the groove of a routine.

To be honest, I felt beat down and beyond tired.

Flash forward a year and a half…

All those problems I saw coming but ignored?  You guessed it!

There are HERE!

I don’t like it one bit but I have no one to blame but myself.  I think “blame” may be a bit too harsh.  I was doing what I thought was right at the time with the limited information, resources, and support I had.  And that feeling of being beat down and tired?  That seems to have multiplied with the ongoing struggle for power in our house.  I can remember a line from comic D.L. Hughley where he’s talking about his relationship with his children.  It goes something like “If I’m paying your bills, I ain’t your friend!”  How true is this?!  But how many of us have lost sight of that for one reason or another?

We tried taking toys and privileges away for bad behavior, rewarding chores, making lists of acceptable/unacceptable behavior, and yes, yelling.  Nothing seemed to work or last very long.

With an extreme lack of team feeling, my husband and I have been trying to come up with a plan to reconnect with the children and get this train back on track.  During one of our brainstorming sessions, my brilliant husband came up with the idea of a Community Corner.

Immediately, we thought “YES!”  What better way to teach being a part of the bigger picture than to show the kids that community begins at home!  All these thoughts of the bulletin boards at the grocery store starting popping into my head.  How could I make something like that and have it suit our needs?  I began looking around our home for things to re-purpose or re-use.  In our family, we are BIG on re-using things things and throwing away as little as possible.  I found a broken picture frame kicking around and some unused shipping boxes from the post office along with plenty of craft paper, stencils, and miscellaneous other items.

What we came up with is something I think the kids are going to enjoy because it gets us ALL into the game of life and we are focusing on positive instead of putting so much emphasis on the negative.  Our idea fosters involvement and has us all feeling like we are an important part of the team.

While we are still the parents and VERY much in charge of the household, it feels great to empower the children and get them working toward common goals with us.

It took me about a week to get the corner put together the way I wanted.  I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist.  But once it was installed in the kitchen, I felt very proud that we are taking steps in the right direction for our family.

When we sat down with the kids to discuss this Community Corner, it was after dinner and nearing bedtime, so it didn’t go as beautifully as I had imagined.  Things seldom go the way we plan for them to in our head.  I have to remember this won’t be a one time conversation.  For it to really take hold and make change in our lives, we are going to have to discuss it daily, keep it fun and fresh, and most importantly, not give up!

Below is a detailed outline of how I created our Community Corner!

**NOTE:  I originally wrote this article nearly a year ago and since then we have had ups and downs but our issues are much more manageable now.  Our family isn’t perfect, but whose is?!  We try to hold monthly family meetings to discuss what we find in the suggestion box and how we can work them into the schedule.  We have recently added chore charts, behavior/reward/consequence charts, and  an internet rules and expectation chart.  I will create posts for each of these along with my monthly bulletin board ideas.

Click the pictures to enlarge and open the gallery.