Unsolicited Advice to Freshmen Starting High School, or if I had a Time Machine

It was 27 years ago that I was a freshman in highschool.  I thought we’d have flying cars by now (what the heck?!).  In 1989 “Hangin’ Tough” by the New Kids on the Block was the hot album, there were no cell phones (but drug dealers and other business persons and expectant fathers had “beepers”), and shoulder pads (ew!) and pegged pants (still cute!) were in style.  I’d never heard of the internet and we listened to these newfangled things called cds as well as mixed tapes (if you’ve seen or read “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” you know what a mixed tape is and you’ve also been introduced to The Smiths and “Rocky Horror” so you should silently thank the author now).  Teen girls seemed to be in a contest to see who could get their hair the highest (I probably won) and all of us smelled like Aqua Net and didn’t know about global warming.  Twenty six years ago was before “reality tv” and yes Mtv really used to play music–1989 was all about the hair bands (Poison, Bon Jovi, Skid Row, and Motley Crue) and the prototypical pop princesses Paula Abdul and Madonna.  Twenty seven years ago seems forever away at times, but it also paradoxically seems like yesterday.  The world has changed in many ways, for better and worse, since then and if I could go back and tell my 14-year-old self a thing or five I would.  So I’m going to tell you, the freshmeat, the newbs, the class of 2020 what I would go back and tell my 14-year-old self and I’m going to quiz you later (just kidding):

1-2).  Find your peeps and forget about popularity.  I don’t mean those crusty yellow half-stale-but-still-taste-awesome Easter treats.  I mean find your people.  They might be different people than you hung with in middle school and that’s okay.  Find people who challenge you, make you laugh, and are interested in the same stuff you’re interested in (yes I ended a sentence with a preposition–we can talk about that later).  Find people who are totally different than you but are kind and real and don’t give two turds about popularity.  Right now, at this moment, commit to this mantra:  “I don’t care about being popular.  I don’t care about being popular.”  You will be so much happier if you don’t.  Say “hi” to the weird kids, invite the loner to sit with you at lunch, join a club (insert shameless plug for Mock Trial here), try out for a team, but find your peep(s)–one good one is enough really, but two make it easier to break a tie when you’re deciding what to do on Saturday night.

3.) Make time for your fam and if you don’t have a good fam make one.  Four years may seem like a lot to you now, but it will fly by, especially after all those darn projects your teachers assign.  Carve out moments to enjoy your family.  If you have a little bro or sis, do stuff with them.  If your mom wants to hang, hang with her.  As a mom of a college freshmen I can tell you that even a simple conversation on a car ride with my boy meant the world to me when he was in highschool.  If you don’t have folks at home you can talk to or if your home life is bad, find family elsewhere–here at school, on a team, at church, find a surrogate family–you’re totally worthy of love and support and hey, I’ve got your back and if you need help getting a support system let me know.

4.) Tell the person you like that you like them (and if you don’t like anyone, well good for you more time with your buds!).  Seriously, if I could go back I would totes tell younger Amanda to let John in her Spanish class know that he’s the bee’s knees (okay I wasn’t really that dorky, well maybe I was).  Don’t ask your friend to do it for you.  Just go right up to the person (preferably not in an awkward situation like while he/she’s giving a speech in class or about to dive in the district meet), and tell them that you want to hang out with them.  I wasted my highschool days crushing on a boy I never told.  The worst that could have happened was that he wasn’t interested, but the best–well, you get it.  

5.)  Record your freshman story.  Before you know it you are going to be old.  Seriously.  It happens just like that.  Young one day, old the next.  And when you’re old you’ll want some pictures to look back on, some love letters to re-read, and some crappy poetry to peruse.  Don’t throw those love letters away even after the jerk breaks up with you.  Don’t tear those pictures up or delete them because you think your arm looks fat or your braces are too shiny. Keep a record of this year, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  If anything you can use it later on as kindle when the Zombie Apocalypse happens, but seriously you will love to have a record of your freshman story when you’re old and sappy like me.

I’m wishing each and every one of you a fantastic freshman year.  It’s an honor to be a tiny footnote in your epic tale.