If I could go back in time to give advice to my high school self, the single most important thing I would say would be to finish school. My high school self, even with effortless straight A’s, decided that I was bored. I decided that I could either waste my time in the classroom or I could be out in the world actually earning money. Then the day came that I realized that waiting tables was not the exciting and fulfilling destiny that it seemed to be when I walked out of school. Eight years after dropping out, I got my GED and completed a vocational program at my community college. I am now 39 years old and finally reached a point where I could pursue my real dreams. The dreams that I could have pursued right out of high school, if I had graduated, are much harder to attain at my age. To my high school self, I would say that, in your rush to stop high school from wasting your time, you wasted some of the best years of your life. That one bad decision causes repercussions throughout your future life and will probably always haunt you.
College goes by faster than you expect, so first of all, enjoy every moment. Don't be afraid to express your opinions, both in class and socially. You may get grief from some people, but in the end, you'll be a stronger person for defending your beliefs. College is a small step in a life-long journey of learning. If you're doing something that you don't love, then change what you're doing. You're never too old to make a difference in your own life and in other people's lives. And finally, to quote Baz Luhrmann, "wear sunscreen"
Despite logistic and scientific limitation of time travel, given the opportunity to scare the living daylights out of my eighteen year old self, my approach would be fairly simple: grab the shoulders of my gothic, red headed, pierced 18 year old self, shaking them vigorously whilst yelling, "Go to college! Seriously! Just go! Find a way to make it work! Because until you are 24, it is free due to low parental income and FAFSA! And future you failed to jump on that free pass, and now faces $90,000 in tuition over the next 6 years! Go to school now, and when you are me, you will be a physical therapist and not have $90,000 of student loans! And although the mental and emotion impact of this encounter may be out of my/our range of expertise, I would be able to rehabilitate any spine, neck or shoulder trauma as a result of this! At this point I'd imagine some sort of pre-set time limit would be reached, and I would be transported back to the present, leaving a bewildered, traumatized former me to freak out briefly, smoke a cigarette, then, hopefully, go register for classes.
If I could speak to my high school self I would let myself know that having a large number of friends will have no impact on my future. Family and then school should be my highest priority. I lost one of my brothers just four months ago, he was only 23, and it was a shock to the entire foundation of my life and family. I know that going back in time won’t change the course of his life but I hope I could explain to myself what is really important in life. Besides being closer with my family I wanted to instill in myself the value of my education, not for myself but for the change I would like to create in the world. I spent my summer in Egypt where I visited a psychiatric hospital and was appalled by the way the patients were treated. My goal is to use my ability to speak Arabic and knowledge in psychology to remove the stigma of people suffering with mental disorders in the Middle East. I would also like to give the patients the treatment they are in need of but lack in their cultures state of mind.
My answer to this question is entirely different today than it would have been the first time I went to college. I got degrees in journalism and Spanish, and I spent five years as a journalist and five years as a public relations executive before discovering my true passion. Last month, I quit my PR job to go back to nursing school , with the goal of becoming a midwife. I am thankful to have discovered my calling, and I feel lucky because many people spend their lives not knowing what gets their engines revving. But I wish I had known this was my passion when I went to college the first time. However, I think the life path I took is what led me to this place, so I don't think I could have known this about myself without having lived the life I did. If I could travel back in time, I would clue myself in to this little tidbit about myself. I was always an outstanding student and excelled in college, so there is no other advice I would need to give my younger self in order to succeed. Except maybe to have a little more fun!
Since I graduated from high school 20 years ago, there are a lot of things that I wish I could tell my younger self that I have learned over the past two decades! I would have encouraged myself to continue on in my education while I was still single and young, instead of trying to do it now, as wife and mother with a lot more responsibilites and demands on my time to juggle along with my school work. I think one of my biggest regrets is that I stopped at a bachelor's degree, when I was capable and in a place in my life that I could have easily completed graduate school.
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