Sometimes necessary things to do in high school that I didn’t know were okay

From a young age, we’re shown these ideas of a perfect life that we’re supposed to live — starting in high school. Movies have taught us that the only way you’re going to be successful is if you’re ridiculously attractive, you go to parties with your hundreds of friends, and date the varsity quarterback/cheerleaders/people from whatever the popular “clique” is at your school. Well, I don’t know all the rules of football (or any, if we’re being honest), but I do know that not everyone can date a quarterback, and not everyone is going to be friends with everyone. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.

But don’t worry, because this is okay. You’re going to be okay.

I wish I had known this before, but unfortunately I didn’t figure this out until the end of my sophomore year. Life isn’t a movie. You won’t have hours to get ready with a crew of makeup experts to make you look flawless when you see your crush, you actually have to study for tests, and you don’t have to be like everyone else to make friends. These are a few things I wish I’d known were okay when I started growing up:

Not wearing makeup to school

For some people, this is easy. The majority of these people are the ones who never started wearing makeup in the first place. Well, I was one of the ones who started wearing makeup in middle school. I wasn’t always good at it, but after lots of practice, I had my eyeliner game down. The sad part was realizing I hadn’t gone out without any makeup (the least being concealer only) since seventh grade.

It wasn’t until tenth grade, when I had a problem with my eye from wearing contacts so much and I had to stop wearing makeup, that I started feeling confident enough that I wouldn’t have a panic attack if I didn’t cover up the not-even-dark circles around my eyes. I even received positive feedback that helped. Trust me, you might think you look “terrible” without your usual face of makeup, but someone out there is noticing your true, natural beauty every time you go makeup-free. And note: If you notice someone who usually wears lots of makeup start to wear less and less, tell them they look nice and it will make their day. Or just tell people they look nice. Be kind. Give compliments. It’s always a good policy.

Owning Your Weight

This is definitely a touchy subject, so I feel like I’m walking on thin ice while I’m writing this. We all know the struggles that people who weigh more than our skinny-driven society thinks they “should” have a rough time. And just like some people are naturally bigger, some people are skinny and just don’t gain much weight. I know they get a lot of crap, like being called anorexic (as if that’s a petty insult, not a serious life-threatening mental illness). We live in a society where it’s hard for anyone to be any weight (mostly women, but men too). That sucks.

As we get older, we change and many of us gain weight. It’s a thing that happens, and the best thing you can do is try to be healthy, accept, and embrace it. Hating how you look is unproductive and will do nothing but bring you down. You’ve only got one body, so why not love it?

Being Single

“I know you think having a boyfriend/girlfriend is the most important thing in the world right now,” said every adult ever. Odds are, you didn’t always listen to this. Everyone knows the Forever Alone meme. Everyone has felt alone at some point in their lives (I mean, I can’t be the only one). I’ve had boyfriends, and yes, being in a relationship is nice, but it’s not a do or die situation.

Call me crazy, but I’ve found it can actually be healthy and rewarding to take some time off dating. You learn things about yourself you didn’t know before, like hidden interests or talents that might even be what you want to do with your life. Being single also gives you time to figure out what you want and don’t want in a relationship, which can be vital to avoid settling or staying in a toxic relationship in the future.

Losing Your Cool

Finals — a one-word horror story. Anyone who’s endured these wretched things could tell war stories about how they managed to survive. I went to a high school where tests made up 80 percent of our grades and grades were everything, so finals were really make it or break it moments.

You study for a week (or less). You finally crack open that science textbook. You cram for everything you don’t understand the night before, regretting wasting your time with Netflix binges when you could have been making notecards. The shame, the dread, the insanity. Maybe you don’t care (or pretend not to) and don’t study, but for those who do, this is the most maddening, stressful time of the year.

The most important thing to remember besides the quadratic equation: It’s okay to lose it sometimes. I’m not saying go on a crime spree — just scream into a pillow if you have to. Find a nice corner to cry in and rock yourself back and forth. Take a ten-minute nap. Study. Repeat. Because let’s face it — sometimes it’s hard to get a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast when you’re deep in finals season.

Being Yourself

That’s right. I said it. This isn’t middle school, you don’t have to wear jeans and Aeropostale to have friends. You’re a unique human being and chances are, if you act like yourself, you’ll find people like you who could end up being the best people you’ve ever met. I mean, how couldn’t they be? They’re like you.

Keep in mind these are all things you can/should do after high school, too. Like I said, life isn’t a movie, and that can be good thing. Our expectations of life can really mess us up. It’s not perfect. It’s messy, it can be boring, but at the end of the day it’s incredibly beautiful.

(Image via Paramount Pictures.)

Claire Holle enjoys playing her favorite songs on the guitar, extreme rollercoaster-ing, and creative writing. A few of her goals are finishing a scrapbook she started in first grade, making memories while traveling, and writing pieces that make the world a better place.

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