At first, high school may seem like a daunting experience. Perhaps you feel the pressure to find your true friends or even your future pathway. You must keep in mind that oftentimes, the greatest opportunities arise at unexpected moments. Simply take a deep breath and follow these five steps to enrich your high school experience.
1. Devote time to your passions
Striving for the highest marks is excellent, but do not spend every waking moment studying. Not only is it mentally and physically unhealthy, it may even reduce your chances of success. Take time to be involved in activities you truly care about and meet different kinds of people. With all the clubs, teams, and activities available, it may be easy to aim for the greatest executive positions or to win the most prestigious awards. However, this is not the best mindset to have as it will impact your attitude towards life. Having the longest resume does not demonstrate exemplary leadership or character. In fact, you are your best self when you do what you enjoy. Every activity is a wonderful learning experience, so focus on those that you are passionate about.
2. Explore new opportunities
During these years of transition, you have once-in-a-lifetime experiences. There is no way to discover your interests without being willing to step out of your comfort zone. Decide to try a new sport, join a unique club, or speak to someone new. There is a plethora of opportunities that you may never have again, so make the most out of them. Moreover, you may even find your suited career path and be able to revise your plans for the future. Wherever high school takes you, always set boundaries and do not let others pressure you into doing something you know is incorrect.
3. Plan ahead
As you begin to get involved, you will start to develop a busy schedule. It is essential that you stay organized by setting priorities and allocating your time accordingly. Remember to set aside sufficient time for your studies so you are not completing homework or studying for tests last minute. It is also beneficial to maintain an agenda or anything else that may help keep you on track. Being able to stay completely involved in an activity without worrying about an incomplete task is the best feeling. Remember, time management is the key to success.
4. Construct a support system
There will be difficult and seemingly unmanageable times in your life. You must understand that everything is only temporary, and you will eventually surpass any obstacle. It is crucial that you construct a support system tailored to you. Whether it be your friends, family, teachers, coaches, or supervisors, find the people you can trust and speak to for advice. Sometimes, it only takes time and a few reassuring words to continue walking towards your bright future ahead.
5. Celebrate your achievements
Above all, be proud of everything you have accomplished. You have achieved so much because you worked hard, and you deserve it. Anyone who was strong enough to experience the growth and development you experienced during your high school years should be proud. Regardless if the outcome is or is not the same as you had planned, there is always something to celebrate.
Understand that no matter what, you will live a fulfilling life. All that is necessary is dedication and perseverance. Some days will be harder than others, but the past cannot be changed and will only make you stronger and better prepared for the future. Reflect on your mistakes and be ready to confront the next challenge in life knowing that it will all be worth it. With only four years time, live life to the fullest and be proud of your choices.
Xuesi (Athena) Zhong is a 2017 Young Scholar Award Finalist and a grade 12 International Baccalaureate student. She achieved the Gold Medalist Award in the 2016 Ontario Calcy Contest’s visual arts category.
Athena is the President of Aide Committee and Engineering Club. She initiated the annual Push-ups for Poverty event, raised $1400, and partnered with the Toilet Twinning Organization to build blocks of toilets in several countries. She has also held various volunteering positions including at the North York Harvest Food Bank, Canadian Cancer Society, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.