1. Bad grades in high school will ruin my life.
No, they won’t.
I know I’m not supposed to say this. But you’ll live, and maybe even a fully functional life. Take it from me, a guy with ze perfect French accent… who failed French class.
God did not abandon me. Remarkably, I still make a living. Check THIS OUT: I have a garage door that I can open WITH A REMOTE CONTROL. That, my friends, is pretty awesome.
And you know what? If you don’t get into the college of your dreams, your life will not be ruined. If you don’t even get into college, your life will not be ruined. Your life, in fact, cannot be ruined by grades. It’s NO excuse for not being disciplined, but it’s true. The weird thing is that, even in “good, Christian families”, this sounds like a subversive thing to say, so brace yourself: “Success” really isn’t the highest good.
“But what if I don’t get into an elite college, and I don’t get an amazing job making millions, and then I don’t get to retire rich, and then I don’t get to be old and wealthy, and then I can’t die without a lot of money, and…”
Well, you got me there.
2. These people are my friends for LIFE!
No, they’re not.
They may not even be your best friends next year. Yes, they are wonderful, and yes, it’s great to have BFF’s. But the second “F” — the “forever” part…? It’s not a lock. Most people stay in touch with one or two people from high school, tops. All the people around you are important, but they will not be constants in your life. Chances are, you haven’t met your true BFF’s yet. And that’s not a horrible thing.
Knowing this can be a wonderful thing, when you feel like you’re not at the top of whatever social heap everyone else is worried about. It simply doesn’t last.
3. Everyone’s looking at me all the time.
No, they’re not. Everyone’s too busy thinking this about themselves to spend time studying you. Seriously. They’ve done research on this.
It’s called the “imaginary audience”. High school students, in particular, tend to way over-estimate the attention they’re getting. Fact is, even the “together” people are super self-conscious, and that means someone who *isn’t* — someone who’s freed up to care about others — can have an impact like an earthquake.
4. Whatever social group I’m in now — that’s just who I am.
Nope. It just doesn’t work out that way. This is why high school reunions and old yearbooks are so fascinating…and hilarious.
People can change. And they do. A lot. Who you identify yourself as, now, does not lock you into a certain identity forever. And it’s a good thing, or a lot of people my age would still be wearing flannel-on-flannel and refusing to shower while listening strictly to Nirvana and Pearl Jam.
Everyone. Will. Change.
5. My teachers/parents just don’t understand.
Don’t flatter yourself. Seriously. For all the marketing of “teenager”-hood, the concept of “teenager” has been around less than a hundred years. You’re not in a mysterious, magical soap opera that adults just can’t possibly understand. It’s not a sudden period of life that’s simply distinct from all others.
This is why, in fact, your parents are bothersome: It’s not that they don’t understand the importance of your life, your decisions…it’s that they DO. They can still relate to the issues, the temptations, the desire to run away from problems, etc. So they won’t just leave you alone.
It’s high-stakes, and they know it. When you were three years old, your foolishness might mean a thrown toy. Now, like an adult, your foolishness can mean years of sad regret. Acting on your own, as a free agent, now or when you’re an adult — is a recipe for serious hurt. The wise listen to counsel.
Mom, or Dad, or caring whoever — they know this. That’s why they don’t just shut up and “live their own lives”. And why you shouldn’t, either.