Youth is happy because it has the ability to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old. – Franz Kafka
I know a girl who just started the ninth grade last week. I’ve known her since she was a few days old and aside from the fact that her hair and her legs are a lot longer than they used to be and she isn’t Velcroed to her mom twenty-four hours a day, she really isn’t much different now than she was back then.
I’d love to tell this long-limbed niece of mine what to expect, offer a bit of unsolicited Auntie-type advice but there’s a small problem. I barely remember what I did a week ago.
My amnesia about ninth grade could mean one of two things. Either the school year was fairly mundane and I sailed through it, or I was so traumatized by the fact that I acquired a baby brother around that time that I managed to block out about 365 days of my life. It’s probably a little of both.
I can remember some memorable slumber parties and marching band and cheering at football games, and the old high school’s hallways and teachers, but classes? Not so much. I must have had a lot on my mind. Yep, that must be it. Either that, or I was 14.
And so, Miss Carrie, this is all I’ve got:
1. Right now, high school really is your life. YOUR LIFE. Adults will tell you many times over the next four years that it isn’t. When you grow up you will discover that working in an office is a lot like high school. Same cliques. Same weirdness. Same cafeteria food. My advice? Be nice to the nerdy kids. You’ll be working for one some day.
2. No matter how much you hate your hair on any given morning, there are at least five girls in your first period class who hate theirs more. This is because women are never satisfied with how their hair looks. It is our cross to bear. This never ends. My advice? Rock that baseball cap of yours on bad hair days. Nobody does it better than you, Girlfriend.
3. When you are in algebra, please, PLEASE ask your teacher when you are going to need to know what you’re learning and then let me know because I’m still trying to figure that one out. Of course, if you are planning on becoming a Math teacher, my advice is first, to disregard #3 completely and second, have a serious conversation with your mother about whether you were, in fact, adopted. Kidding. I’m kidding. Really.
4. Avoid the mean girls like the plague that they are. Right now they are at the top of that horrible high school food chain, but you will find that Time and Karma generally takes care of that, and them. My advice? Vow to only hang around nice girls. Being a freshman in high school is dramatic enough just as it is.
5. Be smart and kind to everyone and for heaven’s sake, be interesting. Do those things every day. And be brave. Brave is good.
6. Find the things you love doing and do them well.
7. Read things nobody has made you read.
8. Make snow angels.
9. Be YOU. All day…..every day. There are more than enough of the rest of us and frankly, we aren’t nearly as funny and interesting as you are, so please, keep being YOU.
Oh, and if you get a chance? Take Woodshop. Best. decision. I. ever. made.