Hey everyone! My name is Irene and I graduated from Byram Hills High School this past June. My sophomore year, just as everything was going right, Covid hit. As an extroverted and awkward 15 year old girl (I REALLY wanted to be a woman at that point) who was finally coming out of her shell, this was the worst case scenario. How did I manage to turn my junior and senior year into the greatest years of my life so far? Here are some of my tips:
Get a job.
Getting a job, for me, was a non negotiable from my parents. At the time I was resistant, but I learned three key lessons that improved my life as a student and a person. The first lesson: good customer service is critical. With the rise of self check-outs and automated messages, having good customer service (the ability to talk on the phone, send emails and conduct conversations) can really set you apart from your counterparts. I found my confidence in the classroom immensely improved as well. I could vouch for myself significantly more because of my work experience. The second lesson I learned was to find your strengths and use them. An individual’s strengths are what make you an asset, so if you want to become invaluable, you need to learn how to use them in life and in your career. I tried several different jobs. I learned that I was great at working with children and not so great at wrapping gifts. The final lesson I learned was you have to finish your jobs. This wasn’t school anymore. I couldn’t procrastinate on my responsibilities and somehow pull off an A. The faster I learned this the more efficient I became in school. I was handing in assignments earlier, and I became much more proactive when asking for help.
Okay, so I was the captain of three varsity sports my senior year. Naturally, I encourage athletic activity to everyone. Sports helped me learn to work with others, taught me how to play fair and fostered healthy habits in my lifestyle. I can’t even begin to describe the countless friendships I formed from playing on teams in school as well. Now, for my unathletic readers/friends you can still get involved through clubs or community service! I had a lot of fun in the band, and my friends in theater are always looking forward to the next show (I can proudly say I never missed a winter show). There is no downside to putting yourself out there. You might just discover what you’re truly capable of.
And lastly, coupled with putting yourself out there, is to take risks. This can include talking to someone new, raising your hand in the classroom or even sticking up for someone against a bully. If you make mistakes, who cares? That’s how you learn. The biggest risk I am taking is attending college in Ireland. I knew how much I would have regretted not applying, and if I crash and burn- so be it. Taking a risk to achieve a goal requires courage to face the fear of uncertainty. No matter the outcome, either way, I will grow through the process and become more resilient and confident.
Good luck in High School!! Don’t blink.