8 Things I Wish I Had Known in High School

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We all walked across the stage, one by one, to receive a document that took most of us four years of high school to earn. The robes were red, the hair was large, and our dreams were to reach the stars.

Being a 1990 graduate means I recently returned to my childhood town to gather with my classmates at our 25th reunion. It seems to be a hard decision for some to come to their high school reunions, but I’ve been to all of mine. For one weekend, every five or ten years, we are allowed to revisit our younger selves for just a moment.

I read this quote somewhere: “There’s something very spiritual about a high school reunion. It’s about life and death.

I have now found this to be true.

Why is it that it seems to take ten, fifteen, or even forty years to learn certain lessons? How come high schoolers aren’t taught, or told, truths that would save them time, energy, and tears?

Perhaps we were told…and we didn’t listen.

high school reunionHere is a list of 8 things I wish I had known in high school.

I’ve invited a few of my classmates to add their thoughts to this post, so you will see their names scattered about.

1. Words and Actions Count

As people milled around me and faces in pictures passed before me, memories flooded my mind. Some were funny and pleasant. Others were embarrassing or hurtful. During a slide show, one young man’s picture slid across the screen. He probably had no idea that to this day I remember the hurtful words he said to me back in middle school. As I continued to ponder, I sadly thought, “I wonder how many of these people I have hurt with my words?” Even as adults, it is important to remember that words and actions towards others count.

So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! ~ James 3:5

2. Everyone Has Insecurities

Everyone, no matter how popular, good looking, or otherwise well endowed, has insecurities and questions about how others see them. We want to be liked and we tend to not like those who we think don’t like us. Strange looks and glances followed by silence can be the worst enemy to fellowship and community.” (Craig)

We worry so much about what others think of us. Even for this reunion, I stressed over what clothes I was going to wear. Would people roll their eyes at me when I speak? What about how much weight I’ve gained? *Worry…worry…worry*

To the people in your class, you will always look 18 years old. When I saw those I graduated with, I remembered the high school students and looked right past the wrinkles and scars. And then…THAT MOMENT was when those little nuggets of memories began to come out from hiding.

Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? ~ Matthew 6:25-26

high school3. You Have Nothing to Prove…So be Different

It takes all types of people to create a high school class. My class had over 460 graduates. There was no way to know everyone, but there were those who stood out to me. They were the ones who seemed comfortable in their own skin. While I was sitting in the corner with my nose in a book because I was so shy, these people seemed confident and didn’t mind being different from others.

I find it interesting that middle and high school kids want so much to be different that they all look the same. Those who stood out from the crowd weren’t necessarily the ones with funky hair or crazy personalities, but the ones who seemed to know that the world was much larger than them.

Be weird – When we do what God has intended for us to do, that thing that makes our heart beat, we allow ourselves to be ready for anything. Often times we look at other people’s callings and mistake them for our own.  Be authentic in who you are.  When you are true to yourself, the opportunities will be there and even greater opportunities will appear to serve others.” (Michelle)

But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it. ~ Numbers 14:24

high school reunion4. People Change

The high school you is not the real “you.” Each of us is a work in progress. People change, grow, and mature. Life experience is where our stories are born. It’s the trials, successes, losses, and wins that awaken our hearts and cause the wreckage of life. It’s the loss of children and other loved ones and serious health issues which add focus and purpose.

Everyone is broken. Everyone has wreckage. Everyone has powerful stories of perseverance and endurance. {Even 18 year olds have stories!} Each story is different. Stories change the world. I find it interesting that I am better friends with some of my classmates in the present, than I ever was in the past, because our stories have caused change as life progresses.

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint. ~ Romans 5:3-5

high school reunion5. Real Friendship Is Uncomfortable

Try hard to give people more than just a nod and a smile. Leave your comfort zone a little, step up to less familiar faces, and reach out to actually say something to each other.” (Craig)

High school is a time to learn how to make lasting friendships. Unfortunately we get wrapped up in what is popular, instead of what is human. Friendship means being vulnerable and sharing our stories. I wonder if I would have had more friends in high school if I had taken my nose out of my books for a few extra minutes and left my comfort zone.

Do something that makes you extremely uncomfortable.  When growth occurs, you are able to give the world the best you have.” (Michelle)

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. ~ John 15:13

6. Be Sensitive to Others

Let’s be honest. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, kids can be mean to each other. And while the high school years “were fun and exciting, [they were also] terrifyingly sad. To feel on the outside even among a group of your friends. The emotions we go through as teenagers… man, it’s a wild and crazy ride. Sometimes I was just looking for one person to say, ‘Hey, I really want you to hang out with me,’ when I was feeling like the fifth wheel hanging on the outside of a group. Be aware of the [people] around you: that girl sitting by herself or the boy who is never picked first. Go out of your way to introduce yourself. Sit with them one day at lunch. Include them in your conversations. You may never know how much they will appreciate the effort you make.” (Gloria)

Be observant of your surroundings and the people in your presence. The people I find the most interesting today, are the people I never took the time to know back then. People can enrich your life immensely if you let them.” (Michelle)

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. ~ Ephesians 4:32

high school 27. Life is Precious

This is when a reunion becomes spiritual. Nine of my classmates have tasted death. They are gone. Perhaps this truth is what those who were involved in organizing and participating in the reunion and Facebook group “get.” “Life is precious and we recognize it! Take the time to spend with [people] you [know and] don’t know and be a positive influence in their lives. We all can make a difference.” (David)

This reunion is possibly that last time I might see some of those faces. I might be one of the faces that is missing. We don’t like to think about death, but it is real. Let go of your attempt to impress others. Tell your story and listen to the stories of others. Watch lives being lived.

Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences. Christ’s death was also a one-time event, but it was a sacrifice that took care of sins forever. ~ Hebrews 9:27-28

8. Time is Fleeting

Refuse to allow baggage to accumulate. “Drama is not your friend, remember that!” (Michelle) We need to enjoy life to the fullest and delight in the Lord. Many people think that serving Jesus brings boundaries and chains, when in reality it is the most freeing life ever!

“Time is precious. We are never promised tomorrow. Love often, always be kind, forgive transgressions. For tomorrow may never come and a kind word or deed could be all someone needs.” (Gloria)

Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things. So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting. ~ Ecclesiastes 11:9

high school reunionMy classmates and I are in the prime of our lives. Many of us have reached life goals. We are enjoying life. We are raising children and seeing a few off to college. We are not as young, but we are wiser and hoping to make our mark on the world around us.

By our 40th reunion we will “be it.” We will be the matriarchs and patriarchs of our families. We will make up the leaders of the community, be the church elders, grandparents, and retirees. We will have figured out a lot and realized that we really know nothing. Our reunion gathering will be much smaller, but more intentional.

With perspective and experience, brings wisdom. Perhaps that’s why we didn’t “get it” when we were in high school. We needed to live a little, have our hearts broken, and love without wanting anything in return.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. ~ Ecclesiastes 12:13

 I urge you. Go to your class reunions. Extend grace to those you haven’t seen in years. You will not regret it!

What do you wish you had known when in high school? Share it in the comment area below.


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