During high school, your education and extracurricular activities can entirely dominate your every thought and waking moment. Daily homework. Semester projects. Finals! Academy Capstones. The next big athletic event or club tournament. Drama with your classmates. It can be difficult to step back from the constant activity and consider what’s waiting for you after high school inevitably ends, you graduate, and...then what?
But this is an important question to ask yourself as soon as you enter high school and to constantly revisit it as you advance to being a senior. Even as a senior, it’s hardly too late to be thinking about where life will take you next--and never has there been a time where you have more post-high school options.
Consider the current pandemic and how that has changed the face of our education system in mid-semester, forcing students to work from home with their families and making schools get creative with graduation plans. At the same time, it has made online schooling far more viable as tech platforms have stepped up to provide tools for remote education.
Some high schoolers may be planning on pursuing college education. Others may be taking the year off to travel abroad and rack up some valuable life experience before going into higher education. Others may be entering military boot camp or investing in a trade school. There are even those who could be well on their way to establishing their own business and following the entrepreneurial route.
Whatever your plans for after graduation, there are several things to keep in mind to help you continue to grow and succeed in life.
1. Remain True to You
Remember that there is only one you, and you are unique. You have this awesome blend of skills and talents and passions and dreams that no one else can live out. There will be many pressures facing you outside of high school, trying to conform you into an image other than the one God made you to be. This might come from coworkers or college classmates. It might be the temptation to just be lazy and forget all you’ve learned once you’re out on your own. It may come in the form of vices and toxic relationships. Whatever the case, don’t throw away all your growth and values just for something new and shiny. Hold fast to what you know to be true, live out your ideals and beliefs, and don’t let the world steer you off course.
2. Don’t Play the Comparison Game
This is a surefire way to lose, every time. The comparison game has no winners. There will always be someone smarter than you, better looking, richer, stronger, with more friends, further along in their career, etc. But they aren’t you. Their life isn’t yours and yours isn’t theirs, so why obsess over how you might fall short when compared to them and let that pointless worry and envy take up so much mental and emotional real estate? Don’t focus on being the next big “Big Name Here.” Focus on being the best You that you can be.
3. Invest Your Time Wisely
What are you going to spend your time on outside of high school that will pay off in the long run? What are the dreams you want to accomplish and how can you continue to move toward those a little bit each day? As you gain more independence, you have infinite more options of how to spend your time each day, with fewer people looking over your shoulder to try and help you make responsible decisions. Whatever your goals, you are now mainly in charge of putting in the work to better yourself and take advantage of the opportunities that come your way.
4. Continue to Grow and Learn
Even if you’re going to college or other technical school, people can often be lured into the easy path of just skating by on barely passing grades and minimal effort. They may take classes that cover topics they already know and never really learn anything new or add to their skills. Self-education is a hugely important skill to foster in your life, and will serve you well no matter where you are. Seek out new challenges and opportunities to gain different abilities or perspectives. Find ways to push yourself beyond your comfort zones and add new value to your life--so you can then offer it to others.
5. Don’t Let Fear Control You
There’s a lot of fear in the world today, and it can quickly swamp you in a slough of depression, anxiety, or simply paralyzing worry. Remember that the God we serve has already conquered this world for us, and we don’t have to worry about tomorrow--He’s already got it taken care of. Big challenges, new homes, unfamiliar places and people can all be scary and intimidating, but they don’t have to stop us in our tracks or set us back. Persevere even when everything seems to be against you and don’t let fear of the unknown or potential failure stop you from ever trying anything in the first place.