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Things that mattered in high school that don’t matter anymore

High school lockers

Proms and pep-rallies, driver’s test and SAT’s: Maybe for you a trip down high school memory lane is a blissful, cherished one. Or, maybe the only thing glorious about your glory days is that they ended and so did your acne. Reflecting on a time that seemed so critical, we often wish we could go back and tell those younger, more stubborn versions of ourselves to take chill pill and relax. Turns out those midterms weren’t actually “the death of you,” and your breakup with Jimmy wasn’t really “the end of the world.” You survived.  You triumphed. Much like the Pythagorean Theorem, a lot of the things that mattered in high school are pretty useless now. Our twenties bestow upon us a whole new set of “My life is over” issues. Mother always said “Someday you’ll look back and laugh,” so try to contain yourself as we recall on what mattered in high school, why it did, and why it was so stupid.

Defining your identity.
From the color of your braces to the ringtone of your flip phone, everything you owned, wore, played, needed to define your entire life. You needed a label, a status in the society that is high school, but having an identity crisis at 15 is awfully dramatic. Being the gymnast, the bass player, the guy with the Mohawk: not only are these labels irrelevant in our twenties, but more than likely we forgot all about them (although, hopefully the guy with the Mohawk finally got an adult haircut). Come graduation day, that reputation you worked on for four years evaporates. Starting college or your first job, no one knows and no one cares about who you were in high school. You have to climb that ladder from the bottom of the totem pole once again, the difference being in our twenties we don’t find the need to characterize. Put it this way, if we still identified ourselves with who we were in high school then my email address would still be [email protected] (oh dear).

Grades are everything.
Nothing like the worry of Mrs. Wilson’s history final determining the fate of your college career.  Chances are you can’t even recall what grade you got on that test you were so worried about. We thought what stood in between success and failure was whether you got an A or a B. Although grades and GPA did play a factor in admissions and scholarships, they don’t ultimately determine your career path. Having unique skills, a sharp tongue, charisma, and connections will get you further in life than your ACT score ever will. You probably won’t catch a potential employer asking about your high school test scores. They are going to value your experience, your referrals, and your skill set when hiring you.

Your parents are out to ruin your life.
They gave you curfews, made you change your outfit, how dare they not let you go out with a senior boy. Lots of yelling, pouting, and slammed doors from what we remember. The general rule was that if fun was involved, mom and dad would make sure you didn’t have it, or so we thought. Growing older, those ground rules we couldn’t understand appear to be more reasonable than before. Our parents turned out to be smarter than we gave them credit for. Bless them for putting up with those teenage years where we thought we knew everything. Hopefully we now see that they were just looking out for us and those horrible rules and punishments were wrapped with good intentions. We realize the importance of family and appreciate their love.

Doing it all.
It seemed as though every Friday night was “going to be the party of the year” and if you didn’t go see that movie on opening night, then you might as well not see it at all. So inpatient, so juvenile. There is always going to be another party, and you realize now you can’t be everywhere. We learn in our twenties that our lives are enriched by spending time by yourself every once in a while. You learn to prioritize and schedule better.

Being friends with people that weren’t really your friends.
You wanted to be in on the private jokes, the awesome pool parties, the reserved seats at the lunch table, but was it worth hanging with people you didn’t really like? Thankfully in our twenties we realize that friendships can drift apart and learn to associate ourselves with people who have our best interest at heart. Although frenemies and bullies can appear at any age, high school was overly populated with deceit.

In order to be cool, to stand out, or just find your place, we did some pretty dumb things. Trying to be something you weren’t or just wanting to fit in, those four years were tough. We realized after high school that life moves on. You eventually start to forget the names of most of your teachers, where you sat in home room, and your best friend’s home phone number. You forget who was cool and who wasn’t, who was pretty and who was smart, who threw the best parties, and who dated who. Everything changes, life goes on. Don’t we wish we had that perspective back then?

So we must ask ourselves, are the things that matter in our lives today going to matter in ten years? Do we value what is important? Graduate from your mistakes, treat each day as if you’re turning that tassle, and remember what really matters.


About the Author

Emily Field

Emily holds a B.S in Biology from Southern Illinois University. In her free time, she enjoys playing guitar, cooking, and traveling. In the future, she would love to find a leadership role in a career that allows her to travel the world. One day, she hopes to be able to say, "Sorry I can't make it next weekend. I have to go Venice for work."