so my sweet sister graduated from eighth grade last week (congrats again, sissy!) and as i scribbled down my thoughts to her in a congratulatory note as well as offered a bit of counsel with regards to her pending commencement as an official high school freshman, i couldn’t help but reflect on my own time spent on the lowest rung of the proverbial high school ladder. you know, what i wished i had paid more attention to and had disregarded all together. what advice i hoped that perhaps an older sibling may have told me as i was on the brink of the “best years of my life.” tips that, heck, could even take me into sophomore, junior, and senior years as well. kind of like how janis ian and dominic gave cady the “lay of the land” on her first day at north shore high school. yeah, just like that. (and yes, this is probably going to be similar to that one time i wrote to the freshman in college-aged shawna, i mean, it was so effective last time…). so without further ado…
dear freshman-in-high school shawna,
guess what? you’re getting your braces off just in time for yearbook pictures! and while it’s going to be tempted not to, wear those retainers, please. i mean, you’ve had braces TWICE, maybe this time, third time isn’t such a charm.
it’s really not necessary to carry all of your books and binders for all seven classes in your backpack at one time, even though you might think you won’t have time to switch out materials prior to the next period, news flash, you WILL. they build in these things called “breaks” in between each class for that exact reason. also, books are heavy, in fact, i’m going to venture and say that that backpack weighs about as much as you do. i mean, that can’t be safe. plus, you have a locker. use it.
speaking of lockers, it’s 21-34-22. you have a photographic memory, i expect more from you.
also, speaking of body weight, get some more, k? you’re itty bitty, as in, you can fit into child’s sizes at sue mills. sure, it probably saves your parents money being able to shop in the kids’ department, but you know, it’s not healthy. so keep at it with your protein bars. your metabolism will never be as efficient as it is now. take advantage of this. eat.
back to those kids clothes. you probably know this, but kids sizes are meant for you know, kids. kids are a lot shorter than high school freshmen )well, most of the time). you’re going to get a detention (the ONLY one you’ll ever get in your entire educational career) for not adhering to the 5″ above the knee skirt/short length dress code. i know, it seemed pretty petty to me, too, but to eradicate that from your record, how about you opt for pants for the first year, at least? you don’t want a reputation as a short-short wearing hussie now, do you?
you’re going to try out for the tennis team. it’s going to be a really great experience. sophomore year, you’ll try out for cheer and you will love that, too. unfortunately the way the seasons run, you won’t be able to do both, which kind of stinks. thought it may seem tempting to be a cheerleader all four years of high school, those memories made on the tennis court with some of the sweetest gals you’ll ever meet will be too priceless to forgo. plus you hardly ever play tennis anymore and you’re actually kind of good at it. so you should take the time now to perfect that serve. don’t worry though, you still have a wicked backhand.
it’s totally okay, crush away on those upper classmen. yes, our high school is filled with really really ridiculously good looking people who also love jesus (well, most of them).
the valentine’s day dance is SEMI-formal. i repeat, SEMI. please don’t show up in a wedding-esque gown. and that updo, good-NESS, updos are TOTALLY hit or miss. when in doubt go for wearing your hair down in loose curls.
speaking of valentine’s. girls in high school are pretty cut-throat (sadly it doesn’t get any better as you climb that social ladder). so if you have a guy in mind to ask for the sadie hawkins dance, “claim” him early. as in, like right after homecoming. i know, it seems completely whack-a-doodle, but trust me, with a class of 86, the pickings are slim. so you know, be aggressive, b-e aggressive.
keep studying, not that you need any reminding of that. haters gonna hate. they’re just jealous because you work hard and perform well. trust me, it’s going to pay off dividends. also, you’re totally going to be the go-to study buddy. yes, even with the guys. i’m not promoting using your brains to lure men, but if the shoe fits…there’s a reason you get voted “most likely to win jeopardy” senior year (i mean it’s no “most likely to be wanted for a blind date” but at least it’s something).
don’t be so creepy with your love for a certain senior on the baseball team. yes, he’s a babe, but you’re bordering on restraining order territory.
it might be cool to run for ASB. they plan stuff and are always getting to go off campus during school hours. i bet they use that time to get frozen yogurt. now that is an elective you should get behind.
you’re going to have a lot of combined boys/girls p.e. classes. for some reason your teachers think it’s a good idea to have y’all participate together. word to the wise, boys at this age have no regard for girls’ feelings, as in, they will pelt you with that volleyball just as hard as they would your male counterpart. proceed with caution.
you don’t win homecoming princess freshman year. you don’t win it sophomore, junior, or senior year either. i’m almost positive you get nominated as an upper classman, but despite what hollywood tells you, it’s really not just an honor to be nominated, it’s way better to win. if only for the fact that you get to drive around the football field in someone’s dad’s sports car during halftime of the big game. (i kid, it IS an honor to be nominated).
you’re really good at spanish and history but you have a really hard time with geometry and physics. don’t worry, you have access to a structural engineer/self-proclaimed math nerd at home (thanks, toppie).
um, let’s not lag on that whole getting your driver’s license permit at exactly 15 1/2. spoiler alert, your awesome parents get you a new car for your 16th birthday and you unfortunately cannot drive it solo until october (your birthday is in june). it’s kind of a buzz kill driving your car to school in the morning only to have to have your mom drive it home for you immediately after.
and finally, be kind to your parents. you are, for the most part, but goodness me do they put up with a lot. you’re a teenager, your hormones (and emotions) are all OVER the place and they have to be the ones to help you navigate them. LUCKY THEM! but seriously, they are incredible humans who love you like crazy. so a little less eye rolls and a whole lot more “i love yous” will make the next four years a lot better for everyone.
i’m not going to lie, it’s going to be hard at times and really quite amazing, too (your junior year the football team is going to go 12-0 and win the CIF championship in qualcomm stadium. it’s going to be a memory you’ll never forget). through it all, just remember to take the advice of dory and “just keep swimming.” high school doesn’t last forever. besides, it’s just the pre-game for the main event: college.
so wear your red, white & gold with pride. memorize isaiah 40:31 and thank your teachers often (they, like your parents, really do put up with a lot). santa fe christian is a magical place and you’re really quite blessed to call it your home.
now go enjoy it all before you blink and it’s time for your 10 year reunion.
all my love,
your older, wiser, and definitely better dressed self