Everything Matters Less
“In the real world, everything matters less. There’s so much more flexibility.
In high school, if I left a paper at home on the printer and the teacher felt like being a jerk, they could give me a 0 and tank my GPA. That bad grade was forever. Nowadays, if I forget to bring something to a client meeting, I apologize and we all move forward.
In high school, if you mess up and do something stupid you could get a nickname that stays with you for four years. But after you graduate, you aren’t trapped in a building with the same group of people every day anymore. If you have a social circle that doesn’t respect you, you can find new ones and never have to see those other people again.
Literally every single day of high school, you wake up dealing with the stress of knowing you could mess up the entirety of your current life with just the littlest thing. It’s awful. As an adult, it’s pretty easy day-to-day to avoid getting arrested for a felony or taking out massive amounts of debt. Those are about the only things that could mess up my ‘permanent record’ at this point.”
High School Was The Most Insignificant Part Of My Life
“What you’ll find is that as much as you think age equals maturity, it most definitely does not. Most people who were mean in high school will improve as life hits them, but some will stay that way through their 40s and you’ll encounter them in everyday life. Feel sorry for THEM for being that way, not for yourself for having to deal with them, because it most definitely has its negative impacts on their life even if you can’t see it and that’s why the cycle of that behavior continues.
Also, high school sets you up to believe there is a right path and timeline for everyone. I felt like a huge failure when I didn’t graduate with a bachelor’s degree because that was the plan, but even without following that plan I have met beautiful people and experienced amazing things. Set goals, but don’t be afraid to re-evaluate them and accept that maybe your initial plan wasn’t the right path for you. Don’t fight fate too hard because you’ll look back and see that everything that went differently than you wanted taught you something or led you to a place of happiness in some aspect of life.
The single best thing I have ever done for myself as an adult was to make a decision to be blindly positive about what I can and can’t do. Being positive about things is not a sign of immaturity or naivety as some adults say. Always, always trust your gut. If you think about something non-stop, try to convince yourself it’s okay, and STILL feel apprehension, re-evaluate it. And if it falls through on its own, know that better things will happen instead.
Sorry for the inspirational rant. High school was just the most insignificant part if my life thus far.”
I’d Never Go Back
“If a genie came and said, ‘You can have everything you want! Just be 14 and go to high school again,’ I would turn them down. I hated high school. Sure, it was nice having no bills, but I had no say in anything either.
Being a teenager is bullcrap. Your brain and body are starting to produce chemicals and has no sense of what ‘normal’ is. No adults seem to remember that, nor do they try to help. I’m almost 30 and hope that I never forget how hard it was to be on the cusp being seen as a child and the demands of acting like an adult (without being treated like it).
Things totally got better. I wasn’t ‘supposed’ to be anywhere, however, I was able to decide and prioritize for myself. I like making mistakes and learning on my own. I also found my own experiences made me tolerate others more. I worked retail in high school and certainly got some tough skin.
Not being in my hometown also helps a ton!”
The People Who Say “High School Will Be The Best Four Years Of You Life” Are Nuts
“Things get better and worse. All the social bullcrap falls away and once you grow into yourself, navigating the world gets a fair bit easier. It helps if you can move away from home. You will walk with a great confidence and people will treat you with more respect in general.
Love life gets a fair bit less childish too. People can be more upfront, just don’t be too afraid of rejection. Not everyone you meet is your romantic cup of tea and that street runs both ways.
The hard part is that all your problems become your own. You get to do what you want when you want and if you aren’t ready for that level of responsibility, it can be rough. All the stuff you take for granted in school (paying rent/bills, free access to laundry machines, a free, well-stocked kitchen, etc) will be stuff you need to be ready to manage without parental aid. Still though, if you want to wake up and have ice cream for breakfast, no one will be around to give you crap about it.
Either way, people who say ‘high school will be the best years of your life’ are nuts. I’m waaaaaaaay happier now than I was in school. It genuinely does get better, the practical stuff just gets tougher.”
Finally Comfortable In Their Own Skin
“I struggled with depression and anxiety in middle and high school and didn’t have many friends. Right now I’m in my mid-20s. I’m finishing up my bachelor’s degree because I took a few years off. I’m taking some gen. ed. requirements that I never took earlier, and most of the other students in the classes are 18-19. It’s amazing to me how differently I feel than when I was that age. I used to be so self-conscious and worried about what other people were thinking of me, even to the point of being nervous to say ‘here’ during roll call. Now, I couldn’t care less. I’m so comfortable in my skin. I don’t have to try to not worry about other people disliking me, because I just don’t. It’s not that I don’t value their opinions or think that I’m so great, but I just don’t have that all-consuming fear/anxiety anymore. It’s left me.
Of course, it’s not just age and the passing of time. You do have to do work on yourself. You have to ask yourself why you feel the way you do and try to understand yourself and address your problems. But as you get to know yourself more and more, you become better equipped for everything else, like interacting with other people, doing things in the world, etc. Plus, after you leave high school, you have more chances to meet new people who share your interests, go to new places, try new things, etc. I’d suggest keep trying to understand yourself, and know that you’ll only understand yourself better as time goes on.”
It Gets Better
“I had a terrible high school. I was skinny, short, small, and got bullied a lot. It was bad enough that I used to have a pass that let me leave class a little early to go to my next one because this kid used to like to throw me across the hall into the lockers.
I never had a girlfriend and I didn’t go to prom. I did have a date for one, but it turned out she was just trying to make the guy she was dating jealous so I bailed. I don’t even really like to think back on my high school days and I don’t really associate with anyone I knew in high school.
When I went to college, I kind of grew into myself a little more. I still had a hard time socializing but I met a great group of friends that I’m still friends with now. I started lifting weights and kept pursuing my hobbies too.
After I got out of college, I farted around for a little bit but ended up landing a once in a lifetime dream job that pays well enough for me to be comfortable. I still keep in touch with the people from college that I was friends with, and have learned to be much more sociable. Before, I was too whacked out on ADD meds to know how to be social.
A couple times a month I catch myself thinking back on the mess that high school was for me and how I’m a completely different person, and I’m much happier. I look a lot better physically and feel a lot better mentally.
The point of this is that it gets better for people like you and I. It’s easy, or even really possible, to think our way out of problems like this. Just keep working, one day at a time. One day you’ll look back on this and not even remember what made you feel so bad.”
School Is Like A Prison
“Honestly, school is like a prison. Have you seen Orange is the New Black? There’s a lot of crap that comes from on-edge, bored people who are forced into a pressure cooker environment against their will.
The second you move into a choice-based environment, all the bullying, the cliques, and the unspoken but rigidly followed rules kinda…fade away. People are still jerks to each other sometimes. Some people still try to play their high school roles. But by and large, it’s a different game, and people are too busy trying to pay rent to bother about classroom tittle-tattle, or poking fun.
I was bullied in school. I had a miserable, miserable time. What’s more, I was terrified to leave. My self-esteem had taken such a beating that I never dreamed I could be anything or do anything. I refused to let myself dream or aspire. I spent a lot of my life in my own little world, and my academic work suffered as a result. But because I wasn’t a naughty kid, and there were bigger fires to fight, I was just kind of…left to drift through the system.
I left high school (secondary school, I’m from England) with next to no qualifications, and the self-esteem of a particularly ugly slug. I was socially stunted from not having many friends, and I had every intention of living with my parents for forever and just ignoring the oncoming march of time and responsibilities.
I am thirty now. I live in a lovely apartment in NYC. I support myself with a freelance career in the arts. I have tons of weird and wonderful friends. I am confident, happy, in shape (that’s a recent one and it feels great), and importantly…in control.
I promise you that life can get better when you’re given control and the freedom of choice.”
Don’t Forget About Your Family And Friends
“I recently got crap for suggesting that I thought college was easier than high school because of understanding professors instead of overworked teachers and the time management of college being more open than the 5 days a week of 6-7 hour class days.
Yes, it gets easier after high school in some of your good friends will be best friends for life. If you’re a guy, the last week or two of high school will be filled with many girls you know sending you texts like ‘Yeah, I liked you. Why didn’t you ask me out?’ It will cause you to become enraged and ask them why they never told you…but it will boost your confidence.
You realize you get to start a new version of you whether you go to college, military, grade school, workforce, etc. But it also means you also have to restart establishing yourself with entirely new people.
You’re less pressured to do ‘cool’ things to try to join some fake club of people that you thought were gods. You’ll look back on high school with the thoughts ‘if I could do it again knowing what I know now…would I?’ And you’ll also cringe at thinking back to some of the stuff you did.
You’ll be paying bills for everything that pops up in weird orders or times and you’ll have to be the one to sigh and run your hand through your hair as you call or email support to explain something is incorrect. You and your family will be closer in terms of equal adults so you can’t really be controlled like a high schooler, but farther apart in distance. You’ll want to ignore phone calls from parents and siblings who just want to help but annoy you with asking job questions or grade questions. Don’t ignore them because as you’re now past high school, friends and family are aging just like you. Family members get old and die. Friends have kids. Friends get married so you go to weddings which are great fun but serve to remind you that you’re still single.
Things do get better after high school in many ways, but you also have multiple burdens added to your shoulders as well as butterflies in your stomach. It’s up to you to decide which one to focus on.”
“Everything for me got better after high school. I was bullied and deeply insecure, I ate lunch in a bathroom stall for almost an entire year because I didn’t have friends. My 20s were a flail-fest of figuring who I am, what I like in life and what I want to spend my time on. But it was free of the judgemental magnifying glass high school is, and just so much better all the way around.
Since high school, I have had tremendous successes and colossal downfalls. I learned to how to communicate and how to set appropriate boundaries. I dated and made insanely deep friendships. Mostly figured all of the above out by failing and trying again. I value myself in ways I never thought about when I was in high school, in the sense that I had to make nice with the catty girls in high school, but now only have friends who really enhance my being. As adults, we do have to put up with crap from others, but it matters less. I can see when critical feedback from my boss is really meant to help me grow and advance vs arbitrary mean crap I nod my head at and don’t let it bug me.
High school is an artificial world of people your same age bracket without complete brain development. Once you get out into the real world, you’re interacting with all age categories and what matters to you changes.
I got through high school, and every other uncomfortable time period in my life, by putting my head down and stubbornly plodding along. Each semester is one you will never have to do again. Mark Manson’s writing reflects my attitude of hard work and sacrifice to achieve goals, so I work hard and get through the things. I did find a small group of friends that got me through high school, we mostly studied and were an insular little group so I didn’t get caught up in the dramas of high school. I honestly don’t remember the petty stuff that did happen cause now it doesn’t matter. I was basically too stubborn to not get through it.
Don’t Give Up On Yourself
“For folks who get chewed up by high school, it absolutely gets better.
If you’re still in 9th or 10th grade, find something that you love and lean on it. For me, it was graphic design, theater, and choir. Find a teacher or a schoolmate whom you respect and take them on as your mentor. Suddenly, it’s not about everything bad about high school: no matter how bad things are, you have something genuinely awesome to fall back on and you’re developing skills that will benefit you as an adult.
It’s not just gonna ‘get better,’ though, you have to work for it. I left with an extremely low self-image, and going into college I said, ‘Forget that, from here on out, things will be better.’ I busted my butt at being more social, more active in the community, more invested in my schoolwork and suddenly I was making friends, getting invites to parties, earning scholarships and getting special academic and job opportunities. I’m happily in my first real adult relationship, just about to finish up my associates and transfer to a major four-year. Things have never been better.
Above all things, don’t give up on yourself. Everybody is capable of escaping hard times, no matter what comes against them. But hope is a hard thing to get back once it’s been given up.”