This is All So Temporary: Advice to My Freshman Daughter

Dear freshman daughter,

I have been trying to figure out some wisdom I can impart to you as you embark on your high school experience. The more I think about it, the more I realize that you don’t need to hear my thoughts on lockers, study habits, or how to interact with your peers.

What you need to know is that everything you experience now, both the good and bad, is so, so temporary.  Most of it just doesn’t matter.

This is All So Temporary Advice to Freshman DaughterRight now, it feels like everything matters so much. It matters what you wear, who you do (or don’t) date, which choir or sports teams you make, whether or not you ace the test, and so on and so forth.  But you know what?

None of it will matter in five, ten, and definitely not in twenty-odd years, which is where I am. 

I have heaps of examples of this.

The star of every high school musical that we were SURE was going on to Broadway? She teaches music lessons at the local school– just like me, the perpetual “extra” in the same musicals.

Your dad barely pulled in average grades in math during high school.  He never considered himself to be smart. Now he’s a software engineer, someone that others look to for leadership and problem-solving. 

My best friend, who was the salutatorian and gave up many lunches and hours of sleep frantically studying for the next AP class test? She has a great, challenging job, but also just loves being a mom to her two kids.

I’m not saying grades aren’t important. I’m not saying you shouldn’t reach for your dreams.  What I am saying is that you are an unfinished person in high school, even when you graduate. Your dreams will shift and change over the years, and you’ll find yourself in places you never imagined, doing things you never thought you’d do.

Do you know what does matter?  Relationships.

I don’t mean with that cute boy in 6th period (unless by some chance he ends up being your forever love). I mean your family and your tried and true friends. When no one else has your back, we do. Your dad and I love you and support you in everything you do. And even though you fight a lot, your brothers love you too. Someday you’ll appreciate having them in your life.

As for friends, I can count on one hand the people I truly stay in touch with, and they are the ones who were with me through all the ups and downs of life. The rest? I barely remember them, and they probably barely remember me. 

Know what else matters? Your relationship with yourself.

There are going to be times where you hate yourself. Maybe it’s because of how you look, or how you feel inside.  Maybe it’s because you let yourself (or your parents) down with a poor choice or a bad grade. Maybe it’s because your crush asked someone else to the prom, or no one ever asked you to the prom.  (I’ve been there, and yeah, it stinks.) You might struggle with depression, and need extra help to get through it.

You’ve got to find a way to love yourself anyway. Ask yourself “Is this going to matter in five years? Ten years?” If not, let it go. No one will remember, no one will care. But if it has long term ramifications, fix it. Accept it. Change it, if you can.

It’s never too late to be the person you want to be, even if you lose sight of her for a little while.

So have so much fun, and enjoy these next few years.

Treasure your true friends, work hard in class, and enjoy all the fun high school has to offer. You’re off on your journey to finding who you truly are.  

Just remember that who you are in high school isn’t who you will be in the end.  You will be and do so much more!

Love, Your Mom Who Realizes High School is TOTALLY Different Now But Knows Some Things Anyway
Valerie grew up Naperville, Illinois, and is a Midwestern girl at heart even though she spent 16 years in Phoenix. She moved to Marion in 2016 with her husband, daughter (14), and two sons (12 and 9). Valerie graduated from BYU with a degree in Instrumental Music Education. She is a former band director, a current substitute teacher and accompanist, and an avid reader and crafter.