“You’re starting high school in a few weeks, so let’s talk,” I say to my 14-year old daughter, Katy, recently. She’s amenable, so I’ve caught her at a good time.
I’ve been thinking of the beginning of high school and all it encompasses:
- Fresh starts
- Unknown teachers
- New friends
- Harder work
- Interesting extracurricular activities
- More responsibilities
- Beginning romances
- Differing circumstances
- Opportunities to travel
I want to have a conversation about the best way to leverage the goodness and minimize the low points.
We all know high school. We’ve experienced it and we can remember the good, the bad and the ugly. If we’ve forgotten, there are plenty of high school movies to remind us.
I think high school represents the first time we each experienced freedom and the responsibility it entails.
Middle school may have been filled with angst, but there’s incredible parental oversight. High school is the time teens spread their wings – they drive, they get jobs, they have budding romances and they explore life after school.
So, high school – the time for many firsts.
What happens when we initially begin something new?
For many, we feel uncomfortable and perhaps a bit anxious.
How can we leverage the goodness and minimize the low points?
I begin my conversation with Katy as I would with anyone starting something new.
The time for firsts requires planting seeds. For high school, freshman year represents the beginning. It’s like spring. It’s fresh and new. It’s a time for planting. The soil is ready as the summer vacation gives time for relaxation and rejuvenation. It’s thrilling and terrifying. But, taking a long-term view helps.
- What are the goals?
- Who do we want to become?
- What opportunities are there?
- How can we explore them?
It’s exciting to think about becoming more of ourselves. It’s exhilarating to have a clean slate. It’s elating to think of all of the opportunities. Yet, it’s all disconcerting at the same time.
Having an open mind and heart helps so much in the year of firsts. Being flexible yet driven also helps. Relying on strengths and allowing for relative weaknesses is expected and necessary.
Then sophomore year comes and it’s the time for feeding and feeding. It’s the time to continually add nutrients, water and sunshine. It’s the time of nurturing without any apparent growth. Everything happens beneath the surface. It can be frustrating and relentless. We’ve exited the exciting beginnings and have yet to see any results.
Sophomore year requires:
- Being patient
- Remaining driven
- Winnowing activities
- Choosing direction
- Testing ourselves
- Accepting responsibility
- Flirting with freedom
Sophomore year allows for tremendous growth without any apparent results. It’s a time of testing and resilience.
Junior year is another year of feeding, but it’s different as there are tiny buds bursting through the soil. This is the year of vulnerability and strength. The buds are just breaking through the surface and are facing harsh circumstances. They need protecting and more feeding. The plants have yet to reveal themselves. Are they flowers or weeds? Fruits or vegetables? The type of plant is unknown, but the growth has begun to reveal itself to give relief to the grower. Yes, the planting and feeding is getting results. The work and diligence is beginning to pay off.
As junior year continues:
- Vulnerability gives way to strength
- Fragility becomes stability
- Growth is visible
- Responsibility leads to more freedom
Senior year starts with the plants taking bloom. We can see the type of plant and revel in its glory and bounty. The care and feeding has paid off.
There is a bursting of self.
Senior year leads to complete freedom to start once again. We’ve gone through tremendous growth – some of it exciting, some of it uncomfortable. We’ve learned about ourselves and are ready to take on the next adventure.
At the end of the year, the blooms have reached their peak and are ready to harvest.
The exploration over the last year allows for choice. Who are we to be after commencement? Where will we go for the next cycle? Planning for the future begins and if we are ready, we embrace it. If not, we turn inward for further analysis and discovery.
Senior year represents an ending and a beginning.
This cycle has given way to the next.
We harvest, celebrate and begin anew.
High school signifies the cycles we continue to endure throughout our lives, if we’re lucky.
Planting seeds, nurturing and feeding them, being patient and having faith they will bloom. Seeing the tiny buds peek through the surface and then watching them grow and blossom.
As the school year begins, we can feel the energy of starting something new. Is there something to begin? Is there something needing further care and feeding? Is there an opportunity presenting itself right now?
Think like a freshman – perhaps it’s time to be planting seeds.
As always, wishing you joy,