10 Things Teens Should Know Before High School

10 things teens should know before high school 

1) Everyone is nervous going to high school- everyone!  Don’t think you are the only one freaking out, because you aren’t.  Some people are just better at hiding it.  You are not alone, so remember that. 

2) Take a chance early on… that way taking addition risks later won’t seem so big. It’s kind of like jumping into a cold pool. It’s a bit scary, but once it’s over, you like it and wonder why you were so nervous in the first place.  You will comfortably take more chances after that. 

3) The longer you wait to do something…the harder it is to do. Procrastination is not your friend. It will hold you back from amazing opportunities, experiences, conversations, people, etc.  Don’t let it! 

4) Talk to your parents.. don’t drift away.  Some teens get distant from their parents in HS.  However, trust me, this is the time that you really need them.  Find time to talk with them every day, even if only for a few minutes. 

5) Get involved in HS- it goes by fast. It’s easier to stay involved in high school activities if you get involved freshman year. So, join a sport, student council, theatre or the newspaper right away.  You will thank me.  

6) Pick friends that have your back. It’s ok to walk away from unhealthy people you knew in middle school. Chances are your high school class will be pretty big compared to your 8th grade class. Meet everyone and make new friends based on shared interests, likes and values. 

7)  Every day is a new opportunity to re-invent yourself. This is a perfect time. Why? Because everyone else is doing the same thing! Don’t let others define you. Find new interests, change your attitude and explore new things. 

8) Clothes, electronics, make-up and music don’t make you cool. Confidence trumps all those things.  Drop the labels, products and latest apps. These things don’t make you interesting or likable. Show people who you are, have an opinion and make decisions for yourself.  People will respect you and your confidence. 

9) Stay away from drama- don’t get involved.  High school drama is the worst and it’s everywhere. Don’t gossip- it will come back to bite you.  Don’t tweet, post, say or share inappropriate things. You will be labeled very quickly as a mean girl/a gossip and this label can be hard to shake. 

10) Don’t do anything you don’t want to do.  If you stand up for yourself, say no, or walk away from the first bad situation freshman year, people will take notice. That way peer pressure will not follow you for the next 3 years. Instead, you will attract like minded friends. 

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How to Utilize the Power of Fear

thBeing scared isn’t always a negative. You can be scared in many different ways..right? There is the “scary movie” kind of scared, where you don’t know what’s going to pop out on the screen. The jumping out of a plane kind of scared, where you fear real death and your adrenaline is pumping loudly.  Lastly, there is the “taking a chance” kind of scared, where you have to address someone or something that’s anxiety producing and you don’t know if the outcome will be favorable.

Now, with a scary movie, we look forward to being scared.  We want it; anticipate it. We set the mood. Shut off the lights, grab the popcorn and get ready to be entertained.

When jumping out of a plane, we are excited about the experience even if it is anxiety producing. It gives some people a huge rush to look death in the face, which later can make you feel invincible.

Now, the “taking a chance” kind of fear is a little different. This is the kind of fear we don’t look forward to. We avoid it at any cost and dread it all the way through. It’s no surprise that public speaking is the number #1 fear of most people. Why? Because you are willingly putting yourself out there for others to judge you… and who wants to do that?  However, this kind of fear, I believe is the most rewarding and can help teens build self-esteem and confidence.

This type of fear shows vulnerability. It’s you taking a chance and the long-term pay off is far more rewarding than watching a scary movie or jumping out of a plane.  Why? The honestly required is raw and real. Its provides growth and it also involves “approval” from others. This is real fear!  People can judge, laugh, shun or embarrass you for your words. However,  after the “interaction” you feel relieved, elated and maybe even invigorated.  These experiences build upon one another. After your first scary interaction, the next one isn’t so bad. You then take bigger chances with bigger pay offs along the way.

Remember that typically, the actual experience is never worse than how you have imagined it in your mind. Probably quite the opposite. The interaction could go terribly well and you will feel heard, appreciated and accepted. We need to teach teens to take a chance and get scared like this more often.

Teens—Run for class president in front of your school, try out for a sports team for the first time or tell a friend how you are honestly feeling. Embrace the fear.

Parents—-you can help too. Start kids out early. Have them answer the home phone, ask a sales person behind the counter for help or place the family order at the drive -thru. Trust me, for a 10 or 11-year-old this can be scary. It helps them grow and build independence. If these types of actions and interaction become common place, then the fear is gone. They will be less self-conscious, less likely to over think situations and more likely to just “do it” the next time. Then they can move on to scarier (age appropriate) actions in high school, college and even within their careers.

When was the last time you did something scary?

Megan: Stuck in Neutral. (A girl’s struggle w/ depression and anorexia)

An excerpt from my book, Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image

I see self-esteem as how I perceive myself in relation to others and if I see myself as pretty or fat or smart. It has to do with whether I’m confident or not.

For me, my biggest issue is weight. I was obese, clinically. I also struggled with depression and went to a therapist who gave me medication. It didn’t help that I was teased throughout school. Like in sixth grade this guy I thought was my friend asked me out, but then on the bus he told everybody it was a big joke. He told them that he thought it was funny I said yes. Can you imagine how much that crushed me? You don’t just get over something like that.

I lost like 40 pounds the summer between eighth and ninth grade. I started swimming and ate healthier, but then I began to exhibit all the textbook symptoms of anorexia. I mostly ate trail mix. I would eat those all-natural bars – Think Thin bars – but I would eat them as a whole meal. For dinner I would have an apple with peanut butter. I would count calories and keep a food journal. At the end of the day I’d look through it and be like, “Oh, I had too many of this.”

I don’t do that anymore. I know I can’t go back there, but I think about it every time I eat. Can you imagine struggling every single time you’re hungry? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks – wanting food so badly, but not wanting it at the same time? Now I have healthy eating patterns, but people have to talk to me or distract me so I don’t know how much I’m taking in. The hard part is as I gain the weight back, I see myself as I was before. Even though I’m a healthy weight now, when I look in the mirror I feel like I’m obese compared to where I was when I was anorexic.

I think about body image a lot subconsciously, and I shouldn’t. Hopefully when I get older I won’t be surrounded by people who talk about stuff like that all the time. I feel like if they wouldn’t talk about it then I wouldn’t fixate on it so much.

When I think of what makes me happy, eating is the first thing that comes to mind. Isn’t that sad? In fact, during this whole conversation, the mention of food is the only thing that will make me smile.

Literally.

Unfortunately, I’m the person who loves food but it doesn’t love me. Then I have no choice but to hate it back. Food helped me through some difficult times though. When I was younger, I would “eat my feelings” if I was sad. Now instead of eating a lot I just have like a spoonful and dip it in ice cream, just to taste it. But there’s still this fat child within me that has that feeling, that longing. It’s the fat child that just ate and ate whenever her parents fought.

My mom and I are close but I don’t have a relationship with my dad at all. He leaves early for work, gets home late and eats dinner in a separate room. We just never really had a good relationship.

I guess he never really cared.

I don’t know.

I just accept it now.

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