From Our Teen Readers
February 26, 2015 2:41 pm

High school is a time where you can really learn about who you are. You can experiment new hairstyles, clothes, and figure out what you love to do, what you’re passionate about. Along the way, you’ll make mistakes and, when it’s all said and done, there will be plenty of things you’ll look back on and wish you had done differently. And a lot of them will probably be from your very first year of high school. Freshman year, more than maybe any other year in your life, is a time of trial and error, to figure out who you are and who you want to be.

There were definitely plenty of cringeworthy moments during my first year in high school, now that I look back on it. I remember being very scared of my freshman year and not knowing what to really expect. Of the hundreds of things I wish I’d known going into my freshman year, here the top 5:

1. Upperclassman are not as scary as you think.

I entered high school absolutely terrified of the upperclassman, but it wasn’t long before I realized that they aren’t all that scary, after all. When you’re a meek little freshman, make at least one friend who is an upperclassman. It will almost-definitely sound scary, but trust me, you’ll be glad to have a friend who already knows the ropes of the school and can help you if you ever need it. Making friends with older kids can seem a bit intimidating, but joining a sports team or an after school club can make it a whole lot easier! Just don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and approach new people.

2. Sleep is magical — get as much of it as you can.

My freshman year, I was always distracted by my TV or my phone or really any kind of technology I could get to. As a result, I was staying up really late and not getting nearly enough sleep. Now, I am in bed and asleep by 9:30 p.m. as often as I can. It might sound uncool, but my happiness went up right along with the hours I was logging in dreamland every night. Sleep is so important, and your workload only grows during high school. I wish I’d taken advantage of the lighter load and gotten enough sleep freshman year.

3. You don’t have to document everything on social media.

Looking back on my posts on different social media sites, I don’t know how I even got followers. I was one of those people who decided to post every little thing that I did, and I posted so much that I eventually went back and deleted a bunch of pictures of totally random things. Keep your posts to just the important stuff, and you won’t regret it later on.

4. You don’t need to know everyone’s grades.

“What’d you get on the test?” Everyone asked each other this all through freshman year. I asked my friends. They asked me. It was so common. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I realized other people’s grades didn’t matter. I had a teacher who gave us a small lecture about and it made me realize that knowing someone else’s grade didn’t help me at all — this knowledge wasn’t going to change my grades. Just focus on your work and doing the best you can, and you’ll be golden.

5. Time management is actually important.

Procrastination is my biggest weakness, and I’d like to say that I can fully control it, but unfortunately I cannot. Although I still procrastinate, I try my hardest to manage my time well. If you procrastinate like me, be sure to set a timer on your phone or computer so that when you hear it, you know that it’s time to stop and get your work done. You can then reward yourself after you’re done with some more free time. Giving yourself the proper amount of time to do your homework or finish that project is seriously so important to your success in high school.

I made my fair share of rookie mistakes, but my freshman year was still extremely fun. I think if I had known the things I listed before I began high school I could have started a lot more confident and less afraid of what to think about it. Either way, you will get through it and you will come out smarter.

Mackenzie Walsh is a 16-year-old from Rhode Island. She enjoys spending her time dancing, playing tennis, and writing. You can find her on Twitter.

(Images via here, here, here, here, here, and here.)