Looking Back On High School (Part 2): How To Survive The Madness?


Now we have established high school is absolute madness (see part 1), let’s quickly continue on how to survive this jungle.

Underneath you’ll find six ‘not-so-easy’ mindset shifts that have the potential to make your life as a high school student easier:

1. Be brave: face your fears.

High school is a scary time.

You lose everything you know and you have to start over again.

Although it might not be ‘cool’ to admit to others that you’re afraid, it’s essential to admit to yourself that you’re afraid. The first step of getting rid of your fears, is acknowledging them. The second step is to get a deeper understanding of your fears. What is it that you are afraid of and why? The final and most difficult step is to face your fears.

Your natural instinct might tell you to run away from your fears. 

The thing is, if you walk away from your fears, they tend to follow you. Those fears will always be looming in the background like a dark shadow. The only way to get rid of fear, is doing what you are afraid of doing. And keep doing it. Over and over again. 

The reward is worth the struggle.

Find comfort in the fact that there are others feeling the same way. Everybody has fears, not everyone is brave enough to admit it, even fewer are brave enough to face them.

2. Be kind.

On campus, you’ll quickly find that being kind might be perceived as being ‘soft’. 

Fact is, it couldn’t be further from the truth. It takes strength to be able to have kind thoughts all the time.

Be kind to your friends. Be kind to people that are different. Be kind to the unkind. Be kind to yourself.

Be kind to your friends. You’ve probably got this one down. At least until one of your friends makes a mistake and you feel betrayed. If the friendship is worth it, try to explain to that friend how it made you feel and why. If the person in question is not likely to make the same mistake over and over again, forgive him/her. 

Life is too short to hold grudges. It’s best to learn this early on in life.

Be kind to people that are different. Everybody has a story. Figure out that story before you judge. It’s easy to pick on people that are different from you. It takes strength to learn more about them, keeping an open mind. You might see things from a different perspective afterwards.

Be kind to the unkind. Natural instinct will tell you to defend yourself against the unkind and perhaps even to plan for revenge. It takes strength to be kind to the people that don’t seem to deserve it. Don’t do it for that person, do it for yourself. Intrigued? More on this in point 6.

Be kind to yourself. You are young, you are learning. Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake. Negative self talk is only going to make you feel more insecure. Recognize it, and replace it with something better.

Nothing makes a stronger and happier person, than being able to have kind thoughts all the time.

3. Be curious: find out what you like and why.

Being eager to learn new things will get you far in life – if you can hold on to it.

The problem is that being eager to learn is often frowned upon by the kids higher up the food chain. After all, that’s what your teachers and parents want you to be. You can’t let them win. You’re an individual now, which is best enforced by doing the exact opposite of what your parents and teachers want you to do.

Often, this is the narrative and it sucks.

Losing your curiosity and eagerness to learn, will significantly limit how much you’ll get out of life. Not knowing what your talents are (or not using them to the fullest potential) is a wasted opportunity.

In high school you get the opportunity to dedicate your time expanding your knowledge, figuring out what you are interested in and what you are good at. Grab that opportunity with both hands. When the time is there to take the next step, you’ll have a better idea of which path to take. It’ll help you further on in life.

That kid on top of the food chain that skips class and learns nothing? (S)he’s likely to end up miserable as an adult.

4. Learn to love yourself and try to become a better version of you.

Notice the things you do like about yourself more often and work on the things you don’t like about yourself. High school is a good time to reinvent yourself.

Yeah, your body is changing, but give it time – you’ll come out more beautiful on the other side. Be patient.

Worried about your looks? Feel and look better by eating healthy, joining a sports team, or going to the gym. Looking for a quick fix? Work on your posture, smile more often, get a new haircut and try out some new clothes.

Feeling insecure? Face your fears every time you get the chance and replace negative self talk with positive reinforcement. Focus on the things you like about you. Ask yourself: what am I good at? Be proud of yourself.

Only when you learn to love yourself, you’ll be truly happy.

Dive deeper:
How to use past, present & future to achieve happiness

5. You can’t force love.

Love in high school is a battlefield.

Most girls are told (by Disney, those idiots!) the first time should be with someone who is madly in love with you, who is willing to sacrifice himself for you, wants to marry you, have kids with you – and above all, never ever even looks at other girls. 

Boys are torn. They want to sex they see on PornHub, but at the same time learned the only way to get anywhere near this, is to pretend to be a romantic guy who’s madly in love.

So they fake it. 

To spread their chances, preferably by courting multiple girls at the same time. If you want to win the race, it’s best not to bet on one horse, after all – you might lose it all.

Girls are confused. Is he madly in love with me? Or is he just pretending so he can sleep with me? Will he still be interested after we ‘did it’? Or will he tell the school I am a slut? Do my guy friends really just want to be my friend? Or do they want more? No one knows, it’s a madhouse.

Here’s the truth. Love is not nearly as flawless as Disney likes you to believe, and not nearly as one-sided, rough and dirty as PornHub likes you to believe.

The mindset shift is simple: don’t pretend to be someone you are not in order to force love. In the same way, don’t let someone change you to be a person you don’t want to be. You’ll have to learn to love yourself, before you can truly let love come to you. 

And love will come, but almost always when you least expect it. Love is one of those things that you’re most likely to find when you’re not looking for it. 

Work on yourself and the rest will come.

6. Fight your bullies with compassion.

Bullying is about power play. 

A bully’s goal is to win power over his/her victims, often in the hope to win popularity and establish an alpha (fe)male position in the hallways, the classrooms, schoolyard and cafetaria. 

The bully wins when they establish a power imbalance by either making you lose your mind, or getting you to a point where you have a breakdown. It gets worse from there. The powerful will always do what they can to stay in power and, where possible, gain more power. It’s true in life, and it’s true in high school.

The mindset shift that is needed to get rid of bullies, is to fight them back with compassion and kindness. It takes guts and resilience to stay calm and kind no matter how much fun the bully makes of you, but in the end it is bound to pay off. 

If a bully can’t win power over you, they’ll look for someone else.

Try to understand where the bully’s behavior is coming from. More often than not, power play is used as a projection of his/her own insecurity or problems at home. See the bully for the person (s)he really is: someone who is struggling with him/herself. Feel sorry for bullies and answer provocation with kindness.

Note: a bully might try to enforce a power imbalance by using violence. Assault goes beyond bullying. This is a good time to either get help from your parents, teachers or the police.

Dive deeper:
Brooks Gibbs on ‘How to stop a bully’.
… and a second demonstration by Brooks Gibbs.

Figure life out, together with your friends.

High school should be about figuring out life. 

The fun part is, you are not the only one. Make new friends and try to make sense of it together. Surround yourself by people you find interesting, people you can learn with and from, people that make you a better person. 

Go out, explore and find out what you like, what you stand for, what life is about and how you can grow yourself into a better version of you.
Take a risk here and there, try out new things, say what’s on your mind, listen attentively to others who do the same, and try to get a deeper understanding why things are the way they are.

Have a good time despite the challenges thrown at you.

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About the author

Wesley van der Hoop

Dutchman living in The Bahamas. I get excited about digital marketing, writing, traveling, surfing and learning new things.

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