The end of senior year is fast approaching. This has given me some time to reflect on the last four years here at Burke High. My time in high school has been quite interesting and I have learned a few things that I feel are necessary to tell underclassmen for my last story on staff.
#1: Your health is the main priority
Over the course of these past few years, I, and I bet I’m not the only senior, have been through the ringer. My limits have been tested numerous times, and there were instances where school wasn’t my top priority. That probably isn’t something a teacher or staff member wants to hear from a student, but it is the truth. School is temporarily, but your health is permanent. Your mental health is so crucial during this period of your life. There is no harm putting aside the homework in exchange for a task that allows your brain to relax, as long as you have an equal balance between breaks and work.
#2: You will experience changes in your social life
If my freshman self could see where I am today, she probably wouldn’t recognize who I am. But that is okay! If I didn’t change, then something isn’t right. I have grown to be more outgoing than I was, more confident in myself, and I know my worth. But at the same time, I did have to go through losing friends, friends that I have known since my early educational career. While these losses hurt at the time, you will be okay. This change gives you room to invite more people into your life that will help you grow into who you are. Don’t be afraid to be your true self in fear that your current friends may stop being friends with you. It’s always better to be authentically yourself and not putting up fronts just to please those around you.
#3: Don’t compare yourself to your peers
This piece of advice goes hand-in-hand with the last one, but just as important. I remember that I was worried if I got a worst grade than my peers early on in high school. This is a really toxic mindset. You will be more focused on doing better than everyone around you, and that isn’t what school is about. Everyone learns at a different rate, and some may need extra help. In addition, some subjects are easier for some to understand, where some subjects (math and science for me) just never make total sense. This is completely okay! A good reminder is that for the most part, the things you learn in school, you will never use again. Don’t stress yourself out on every little thing, especially the things you can’t control.
#4: Have someone to confide in during school
At school, it may feel like you are alone and have no one you can really confide in. Your peers may appear too busy during the school day to really be able to sit down and have a chat. This is why, I believe, having a teacher or a staff member you can turn to is so important. For me, it was always Mrs. Wolfe that I could just rant about my day, or she could give me advice on a problem I was having. This made me know that I had at least one person in school I could turn to if needed. You spend so much time at school that you need to be comfortable asking for help from at least one teacher/staff member.
#5: It won’t last forever
This is cheesy, but it’s true. For me, I feel like I should have a year left due to Covid taking away the rest of my sophomore and majority of my junior year. High school really does fly by before you know it. My advice, take any opportunity granted to you. You’re asked to try out for a sport? Do it. There’s a volunteer opportunity? Take it. There’s a sporting event after school? Go to it. The worst thing that can happen is that you didn’t enjoy it, but even then, you get to say you did it. I didn’t get to go to sporting events and do activities for the past two years, but thankfully, everything started back up again just in time for senior year. Us, seniors missed out on a lot, and I encourage every underclassman to be involved because you never know when or if it will be taken from you.
Finally, the last three years on staff have been the best during my time at Burke. Going into Digital Journalism, the only knowledge I had about writing stories was from one intro class and two years from middle school (which I can’t really count as real journalism). But it didn’t matter because you learn from experience. As long as you take initiative and are passionate about writing, you will get better. I recently attended a conference and one of the speakers said, “Your next story will always be your best one because you are continuously improving as a journalist.” Sure, you can have great stories but your best has yet to come. My advice to incoming student journalists is to never give up. You may experience periods of time where you have no motivation to write, but keep going.