Dear “younger” Lynda,
As I started to think about this letter, I realized that what I wanted to say sounded negative and sad, dominated by thoughts on how life would get better. That was not the direction I wanted to go because I don’t want myself or anyone else reading this to think that your high school years are all bad.
At the same time, I feel sad for those who say, “high school was the best years of my life.” Every year, we have new experiences, new memories and build on the past. Every year of your life should be better than the one before, so that your definition of a great year changes. I had fun in high school with youth group, newspaper editor, student council, travel camp, working at the day camp and other activities. Find the activities you like—whether sports, music, academics—and you should be able to find friends who like the same things. Be true to yourself. Decide who you want to be and if that is different from what you wanted to be last week, that’s fine. My marching band career was not the best so I gave up. The key is that you are not trying to be someone just to fit in with a certain group, but finding the group that fits with what you want to do.
Your parents do know things. In high school, my mother and I were always fighting over silly things like how much make-up to wear with my reply, “you treat me like a baby.” Or,” I can’t go to the mall with you, what if someone sees us?” Now, I love spending time with my mother and it pains me to see that she is not what she used to be and is not up to dragging around the mall or traveling, which is something we started to do in recent years until her health precluded it.
As adults we talk much about the work life balance, in high school, there is also the need to balance schoolwork and fun. It depends on the person which way the scale may tilt. I spent much time studying and may have studied more than I needed to do. In high school and college, I wish I had taken advantage of the concerts and lectures and chances to explore. Actions do have consequences, which mean making the right choices, but sometimes the right choice may be to take a break and do something you enjoy rather than only doing the “responsible” thing.
At whichever stage of life you are, enjoy it. Remember life is not a dress rehearsal. We only have one chance and once time is gone, it’s gone so you need to do the best with what you have. One must live the hand dealt in life, but must make the best of it, which means having the right attitude and making the right choices.