Dear eighth grader,
It’s me, and I’m going to tell you some of the most important information you’ve ever heard.
You’re young. You have not screwed up your life, no matter how many classes you’ve failed, friends you’ve lost, or relationships you’ve ended. You didn’t even begin high school yet, so don’t worry.
If anybody tells you to grow up and not have fun, they’re wrong; and if anybody tells you not to grow up and just have fun, they’re also wrong.
Growing up does not have to be a boring thing. Your development through your teenage years is important, and if growing up means breaking off relationships that don’t grow you, then so be it. If growing up means realizing the importance of your education, so be it. If growing up means knowing what you want out of life, so be it.
Some days, school will overwhelm you, and if you want to play sick and stay home, do it, but make those days count. Rest and use it to your academic advantage. Get so much rest you wake up ready and prepared to face school the next day.
Make the school days count. Teachers will hand out busy work, but all work related to education has some significance to it. If your teacher won’t tell you what it is, find it. Nothing in this world will be handed to you, even if it seems like it is. Busy work will just be busy work if you make it busy work.
Read a lot of books. Don’t just read from one genre. Expand. Read some classics. Read some romance, some horror, some non-fiction, some fiction, some religion.
Write. Start a blog. Write short stories. Write letters to your friends. Write for your school website, school newspaper, local newspaper. Write a novel. Pour your heart and soul into your school writing assignments.
Dig deep. Why so surfaced? Why scratch the surface when you can plumb? Why not give meaning to everything? Life is beautiful when absolutely anything and everything has meaning.
Say thank you, and tip your waiters, baggers, bust boys $1. It’s not much, but you don’t have much, you’re eighth grade: share what you do have. Hold the door open and don’t expect to hear a thank you because half the time, you won’t. Pick up something that someone else drops and hand it to them. When you’re up at 5AM on Sundays, climb on the roof, watch the sun rise. Look at clouds. Talk to mom. Call your dad. Not around? Call a friend. E-mail a teacher. Talk to people. Gain perspectives. Expand your horizons. Swim when you go to the beach. Smile at the people you walk by on your way to your restaurant table. There is nothing wrong with being nice.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable. You might get hurt, but you’ll learn. Nothing comes without a lesson. Open up. Share your stories. Let them change the people around you. Let them change you.
Look for colleges. Request information. Four years will fly by. Take the SATs as soon as you can. It’s better to be three days early than a minute too late. Look for internships. Look for educational opportunities. Start clubs. Can’t find opportunities? Make them. Don’t let people tell you that you can’t. Write essays. Apply for every scholarship out there. You’re a unique individual and there are tons of scholarships; there’s something out there for you.
Your classmates have been watching you, and if you’ve always been a star, they’ll want to be the moon. Even your closest friends will desire to outshine you. When your classmates push, you’ll fall. Not all teachers are excellent, some will think you are dumb. Some teachers will believe you copy work. Don’t let that get to you. A good educator is an open-minded one. Any teacher who makes you feel less than ambitious isn’t a good one. It’s not them, it’s you. Learn how to study independently and stay true to who you are.
Wish I’d Heard These Words Before