What I Learned In High School // Part One: The Underclassmen Years


Towards the end of senior year, my mini-school community has this habit of splitting everyone up into the various grade levels in order to prep for the following year, and as a senior, I received an exit survey and a packet featuring fifteen different tips to remember as graduation approached. It was hard not to cringe, since the sheets of paper contained rote echoed reminders drained into our heads the entire year, and quite frankly, it was very saccharine.

On the same note, I've always wanted to write a "What I've Learned" post, high school edition, and I thought this would be a great time to do it because it plays homage to one of my favorite middle grade childhood series by Meg Cabot. It links back to everything happening in my experience these past four years while also being more grounded to avoid romanticizing this time period when confronted about it later on. This post can also act as an advisory for those who are entering high school, although know your experience may be vastly different from mine and your choices help define what kind of experience you receive.

1. High school isn’t as heavy-ladled as portrayed in books and movies… but it’s still there. You know what I’m talking about—the stereotypical hierarchy, the unnecessary drama, backstabbing, full-out swearing, people displaying too much PDA against the lockers, alongside more things I’ll remain unmentioned since it will prompt some uncomfortableness by some readers, mostly underage things. THEY EXIST. To not acknowledge they exist would be incredibly and dumbly naïve. Do carry a grain of salt when I say this; I’d always hear about such things in the background and never as a headlining player in conversations with my own circle of friends (we've all had our encounters with things but try to evade them), so I may be a bit naïve as to the severity or extent. If I had to use a movie analogy, it would be less Mean Girls and more Fan Girl, the movie with Kiernan Shipka.

2. Plan a party with old friends. Even if you don’t see them as often, make time to still see them.

3. ALWAYS AVOID locker blobs near the bathrooms and the water fountains. The people making the blobs will learn next year when they become those trying to push past through.

4. Don't hesitate to rebel. Even in the small ways.



2. Yes, sometimes you will be those people eating lunch on bottom of the floor—but you’ll move to the top, eventually. (By top, meaning sometimes going off campus for lunch and snagging a table.) I never explicitly stated this on the blog, but during my freshman year, my high school was undergoing major construction, meaning a nonexistent lunch room and a library two storage rooms big. Considering most of the tables in the commons were taken, my friend group and I resorted to sitting on the floor some days. Post-freshman year, my friends and I were able to nag tables easier, though we never resorted to sitting in the lunch room.

4. Dumb things will slip out of your mouth. View Exhibits A through C on my freshman year Life Stories: Broken Crayon (a Monologue), Musketeer Noodle Dancing, and Sugar Farts. This doesn’t really grow out while progressing into the upper classes, but if you’re lucky, you should have friends who will respond to you in the same strange vernacular. Sometimes, these dumb things will get you in some awkward situations involving teachers and therefore must explain yourself.

6. Make a separate email for school and college stuff—don’t mix your personal and school emails together, unless you want to sort through over 1600 emails and narrow it down to 400.

7. Only you have the power to let something another has said offend or provoke you. Not everyone is going to like you— and believe me, I’ve given up with that ship a long time ago— but some people can be downright jerks or insert any other negatively connotative word here, and just ignore them. In the end, it’s their loss and their energy being wasted.

8. Costco is the best place to run into people! Both literally and figuratively, of course.


1. Sometimes, misunderstandings will occur between you and your friends and they may ignore or unexpectedly lash back at you with swear words. A long night of messaging both of our mutual friends and talking to each other the following morning can make it up. Just talk it out.


3. Seeing teachers dab for an eighties dance off is INSANE. No other comments.

4. Thank your mentors. Nothing lasts forever. While it is sad that they must part ways to engage in another stage of their life, please take the time to tell them how much you appreciate them. They are the love, light, and support.

5. If you can make a yurt or a fort for history class, DO IT. You won't regret it.

6. Please, don't overuse the word "beautiful."


7. There will be a moment when you realize freshman are freshman and you were once them. It never hit me as hard as others, but explaining it ruins the entire purpose. For those who possess personal experience with this encounter, you know EXACTLY what this means. No need to explain.

8. Team sports are more fun than individual. I did track and field my freshman year, but the rational behind my decision to switch over revolves around a sense of disconnect on the team. This was something I also faced in softball since I joined late, but it wore off by the end of the season and it was just more fun, gnawing on fruit snacks and hogging the heater while sitting in thirty degree weather.

What have you learned in your underclassmen years of high school? Are you ready for round two? Also, my new blog is now live! You can check it out here:

http://story-eyed.com

13 comments:

  1. I love this so so much. I learned so much during freshman and sophomore year...I look back to those years and wish I could be a stress free as I was haha. I overthought way too much and cared way too much. XD

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    1. I do agree our underclassmen years we're pretty uptight and freaking out over every single thing. Junior and senior year are SO stressful (I've gained some bad habits in procrastination which need to go away before I head off to college) but that's the thing: we've just grown to be like, "Eh!" And I don't know if that's necessarily a good or bad thing... xD

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  2. Though, I'm not American, I have learned that I should've been a lot more communicative while I was in Secondary school. With family and friends. Also, to not assume that someone does not want to talk to me. Also, to tell people if I'm having a low blood sugar and that I cannot talk to them properly. Also, to take care of my low blood sugars better.

    Secondary school sucked xD

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    1. Communication is such an important life skill. Even if verbal communication isn't your strong suit, there are other areas which call for it (like written)! And YES. Self care is important.

      There are parts that do suck, yes xDDD

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  3. It's fascinating to see that the cliques that usually portrayed in high school movies/dramas exists. In Malaysia, we do have cliques but in here the smart, nerd and geeky ones are put on a high pedestal lol.

    I don't know whether Malaysia following British education system has influenced us or not but we don't have the concept of freshmen, underclassmen etc.

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    1. Are the nerdy ones also popular if they're quiet?

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    2. @Nurul: They do exist, but again not to the extent they're shown in movies. It's very subtle. I find it pretty neat the the smart, nerdy, and geeky people are put on a pedestal! That exists here, to some degree-- there are a few smart people who a lot of people did look up to. And OH MY SHISH KEBABS-- it COMPLETELY boggles my mind that the under / upperclassmen levels don't exist.

      @Grace: I'm not entirely sure-- I do know that people who are "popular" are amiable with a lot of people, but then again, there are also a lot of introverts who may come off as extroverted! Thus why it's not a question I can answer with certainty.

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  4. Loved this post! For point 1 in freshman and 7 in sophomore I can relate but middle school version haha.

    Nabila | Hot Town Cool Girl

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    1. The change didn't hit in middle school for me, because I did act pretty dumb and obnoxiously loud in eighth grade as well. But I can see how you can relate!!! xD

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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  5. You've always given good advice, but this post was like a golden nugget.
    I've said this before, but I love the way you write, Abigail. Keep doing what you do.

    -T. x

    PS: Super excited about your new blog!

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    1. Aww, Tane. *hugs* I'm going to keep going, not to worry.

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

      P.S. Stoked that you're stoked. <3

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  6. I love this! I just wrote something slightly similar (not so much for others as for myself) about wrapping up high school . . . it really is thought-provoking!

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    1. Oh my goodness, Hanne! Are we twinning or what?!?!?!? I did want to do something thought provoking when talking about high school but it just wasn't coming to me, although with a month away now I have a thought or two about it. ^.^

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

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Hi, friend! Just remember to keep comments clean and kind, or I will have to delete them. Thank you so much for commenting on my blog-- I cherish every kind word sent my way.

Stay strong and wonderful!
xoxo Abigail Lennah