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How To Survive High School (So You Can Thrive Afterward)

HitchcockI was reading this article the other day about people who are nerds in high school and the qualities they have that lead to success later in life. I started thinking about what qualities I wish I had possessed when I was in high school – the things I have developed since that make my life enjoyable, fulfilling and successful.

So here goes…

The 3 Qualities I Wish I Had Possessed in High School

Openness to Other People – The social scene in high school tends to be very rigid. There are those at the top, those at the bottom and a whole bunch of people swimming around in the middle. (I was in the middle.)

The idea that there are people you can and can’t interact with while in school is something that a lot of people buy into. But now I see this as unnecessarily limiting myself. The people you interact with on a regular basis are important for your own learning and development. You learn that there are people who see the world differently than the way you do. There are people who like things that you don’t. There are people who make you think about something or see something in a way that you never had before. This is not only interesting, but enjoyable.

It also provides you with opportunities. You meet someone who puts you in touch with a potential employer. You meet someone who introduces you to a potential boyfriend/girlfriend, or you meet someone who has an interest that you find you are interested in too. The more people you are willing to interact with, the more expansive are your opportunities. This is especially true in life beyond school, where you are not surrounded by your peers all day.

Also, it’s just kind of exhausting upholding the social hierarchy. Take a break, go talk to someone new.

Ability to Reveal Who You Are – The desire to fit in and be like everyone else is difficult to go against. It’s scary to think that you might be ridiculed or ostracized for something that is uniquely you. It often seems safer just to look and act like everyone else.

This tendency might make you feel safer, but it doesn’t do you any good – not in high school and not afterwards either.

The ability to fully participate as yourself is valuable. You develop skills and abilities that you have a proclivity towards, and maybe more importantly, that you really enjoy doing. Engaging these things will ultimately lead you to a place that is fulfilling for you.

The least cool thing about you may actually turn out to be the coolest thing about you, if you eventually do it well enough to bring value to others, or even if it just brings you tremendous enjoyment.

Willingness to Admit You Don’t Know – When you are young and you feel like you don’t know what you are doing, the last thing you want to do is to admit that you don’t know what you are doing. But one of the best things you can do is to develop a beginner’s mentality, which involves the capacity to say “I don’t know.”

A beginner has an advantage precisely because they don’t know. At that point the possibilities are endless. You can explore and discover new things. You can be creative. You go in directions that you never knew existed. Your life becomes rich and has depth, simply because you are willing to learn.

Your discoveries will be endless, as they are for any beginner. Remain a beginner your whole life. Start now.

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 What do you think? What qualities allow(ed) you to survive high school? Leave your thoughts in the comments.


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  1. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Hi Amusty – Thanks for your comment, glad you liked the post. 🙂

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