By Travis Vatland
Finally, the school year seems to be coming to a close. As my classmates and I set off on our new adventures, I have taken some time to reflect on what my journey this far has been. Seems like every year I remember has distinct highs and lows. I have learned quite a bit from this 12-year journey. This essay is for everyone still in high school, and it is filled with some of the best advice I have learned along the way.
First off, I think the most important advice I can give is be respectful to everyone you meet. Respect goes a long ways, whether that is towards a friend, teacher, or yourself. When we were younger, we were always told “treat people the way you want to be treated.” Well, it turns out the age-old saying speaks a lot of truth. Also, never leave on bad terms with any friends, teacher, or family members. If this year taught me anything, it is that life can change in the blink of an eye, so don’t ever leave on bad terms with anyone you know.
Another piece of advice I have is to get involved with things you are passionate about. I’m not saying join every club, sport, or after school activity under the sun, but try new things to learn what you like and what you don’t like. Personally, I believe the most important goal of school is to discover what you like. For me, that was science. I still remember sitting in Mr. Urbanik’s class as he went over the life cycle of diseases in the human body or Mrs. Nelson teaching us about vestigial organs found in our bodies. However, there are still aspects of science that I am not very fond of, such as any science that includes math. I found something I am passionate about and something that interests me, even though I don’t necessarily like the subject every day.
Something else I must add is find a great group of friends. Another age old saying “You are who your friends are.” I have found to be very true. Our friends have a great influence on our daily lives. If they tend to be positive, that may influence you to be positive and vice versa. The great friends that you make will also be your support group from the next few years. They are going to be there encouraging you and helping you through the good and bad. That is why it is very important to find a great group of friends.
Another thing I am going to add is that failure is okay. Whether the fails be in sports or academics, failure is good because it helps us grow. Failure teaches you a lot about yourself, things that we cannot always see from an outside perspective. As the great scientist, Albert Einstein, said, “Failure is success in progress.” Looking back, I noticed how often I tried to avoid failure, but I also noticed that some of the most important lessons I ever learned while in high school were caused by failure.
The final piece of advice I am going to share is enjoy it while it lasts. Not every day of high school is the best day of your life; however, some days are the greatest moments of your life. Just remember that your attitude influences your feelings and thoughts about everything, so I would suggest trying to have a positive attitude whenever you can. Also, be thankful for what you have. Around the world, many kids are unable to go to school due to sexism, war, and lack of funding. We have amazing opportunities in our small town communities, so take advantage of it and be thankful for it.
Travis Vatland is a student at Mabel-Canton High School. He is one of seven area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its 19th year.