What I wish knew when I was younger

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image by Sophia Cacciatore

Sophia Cacciatore

I’ve always been a good student and I actually always liked going to 

school; that is, until freshman year. Middle school was good; I didn’t have a huge group of friends but I had a couple good ones.  I didn’t know that the years to follow were going to get as hard as they did, and I wish I knew then what I know now.

Starting off my first year of high school, I stuck primarily with my middle school friends.

Although this made me comfortable and “fit in,” it didn’t push me to expand and make other relationships. To think that I could have had a different experience at my previous school disheartens me. A positive outcome of that is that I push myself to experience new things now because of it. 

Throughout high school, I’ve faced many experiences. I transferred to Nazareth during the second semester of junior year. Coming from my old high school, I knew some people from Nazareth that enabled me to transition smoother. My brother was just finishing his senior year and my two stepsisters were in their junior and freshman years. Nazareth was appealing to me because I was starting fresh with my family there. That lifted a lot of pressure off me. 

The next two years of high school would become the hardest time I’ve ever been through, as it is for many people. I hit a low point and withdrew from friends a lot during junior year. Going to school was so hard for me. I was constantly pushing myself and feeling drained. I was never present and when I was, I was distracting myself a majority of the time with music. 

I eventually ended up taking time off of school to focus on myself and my challenges. It was much needed. It was hard during that time to keep up with school, but I had supportive professionals and family surrounding me. I would be lying to say that people weren’t asking questions. They were and it was hard to explain. I only wanted to tell the truth. That’s when I began to open up about anxiety and depression. Being transparent is important to me. 

Over these four years, I’ve learned so much about myself . I have grown as a student, sister, daughter, and friend. Do I wish I knew these things before senior year? Of course! However, I believe we go through hard times to learn and change for the better. We learn from others and the connections we’ve made. I hope these five tips help you wherever you are at in your life.

My top 5 tips to help you through  challenging times

1 – Give yourself enough attention and time. It can be really easy to forget your needs when you are constantly surrounded by peers and teachers. I didn’t give myself attention and it built up to all come crashing down. It can be avoidable by setting time for yourself to relax or take care of yourself and your health. 

2 – People change and that’s okay. High school is a crucial time for change and figuring out who you are. Remember that everyone around you is doing that. 

3 – Don’t change for people, change for yourself. This is a hard one. To be honest, my freshman year was a time when I followed others. I know better now.       

4 – Don’t get caught up in the small stuff. If it won’t matter in a month, it doesn’t matter now. Be conscientious about what you stress about. Unfortunately, there will be countless things to worry about in the future. I used to worry a lot about what people thought of me. That isn’t a way to live. 

 5 – Enjoy being a high school student. Focus on the positives. Enjoy being a teenager-not paying for school, rent, and taxes. Before you know it, you’ll be thinking about and visiting colleges, making choices for the next four years of your life. Being present is one of the most important lessons I have learned.