By Megan Jack
Distinguished Young Woman of West Virginia for 2011
Between freshman year of high school and freshman year of college, the amount of learning I have done has been overwhelming. Whether it be about academic materials, life in general, or myself, these past four and a half years really have proven to be “the best years of my life.” Although we hear this all the time and think, “This is horrible” or “There’s no way this is the best,” looking back at them now, I have a completely different outlook.
So, here’s just a list of ten things I’ve either done or found out about in the last four and a half years and what I’ve learned from them
.1. Make a bucket list.
This past summer I got bored and found the idea of “101 Things in 1,001 Days.” This is a list of 101 long-term or terrifying things you want to do within the next two and a half years that you have either been needing to or wanting to do. I made this list over the summer and so far I’ve crossed off 18/101. My list included things ranging from ice-skating to mailing in a Post secret to meet someone from every state (which is actually pretty easy in college!). Not only do you have what you want right in front of you, but there’s nothing like the satisfaction of crossing something off of such a huge list.
Ice Skating for the first time ever – Completed 11/18/11
2. Don’t let a relationship ruin you.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you won’t meet your future spouse in high school,
but it’s not a big deal if you don’t. I’ve had friends in high school that got so involved in a relationship that they even chose a college based on their boy and later broke up with him. While having a significant other is a wonderful blessing, it can also be a curse. Don’t be upset if you’re single on Valentine’s Day. Take the day to celebrate YOU, and NEVER change because you think it’s what someone wants. You’ll only regret it in the end. I had a wonderful boyfriend in high school and we’re still friends, so make sure the boys you do give a chance are worth it. To this day we Skype and he gives me the best advice. (It’s also true you can be friends after!)
Last week’s Skype session!
3. Whatever you do, do for you.
The only person you need to make happy is yourself. As long as you are happy, others around you will be. If you’re choosing a college, pick the one you are most in tune with, not what your friends are in tune with. I moved 10 hours away for college to Nashville. Coming here I knew absolutely nobody; however, it is one of the best things I have ever done. My friends wanted me to stay in West Virginia and attend state school, and if I had chosen for them I wouldn’t be where I am now.
4. Take risks.
Don’t do something too crazy, but never be afraid to have fun or step out of your comfort zone. For instance, my first semester, a friend and I decided to take an impromptu trip to Greenville, Ohio with only a days notice. Although I was terrified of traveling and unsure of what was happening, it led to some of the best memories I have from freshman year.
All packed and ready to go!
5. Get involved!
Whether it’s sports, speech team, theatre, Mathletes- whatever. Get involved. Being a part of a team or club will be the best way to meet people and make friends. My freshman year of high school I wanted to try out as a cheerleader, but was intimidated because I couldn’t tumble. So, instead I joined choir and theatre and met three of the best friends I have. Even if it’s something you’ve never done, it could turn out to be something you love. (I’m actually considering a Theater minor at the moment.)
Seussical ’11 Cast
6. Quality over quantity
It’s true when they say quality over quantity. In high school we all want to be the ‘popular’ girl. In high school, I was far from it. I was what many would call the “overachiever” or the “teacher’s pet.” I was friends with people from all types of groups, but when it came down to it, the ones who would be there in a minute were what mattered. When it comes to friends, be there for the ones that are there for you.
7. Hold the door! The little things matter.
I’m a firm believer that no good deed goes unpunished, so every time I get the chance I hold the door for people. It’s amazing to see the shock on people’s faces and hear ‘thank you’ after.
8. Find fun in unusual places.
If you have a test the next day, don’t be afraid to go out with your girls before. Plan a study party together or something in order to prepare, but don’t take life so seriously. Make sure your academics come first, but don’t overload yourself to the point of exhaustion like I would do so often.
A fundraiser turned fun junior year!
9. Being above the influence is common.
We’re all told that “everyone is doing it,” but I was in the group of kids that didn’t drink or smoke in high school and college. Never feel pressured to do these things. In fact, more people DON’T participate than do. So think about that next time you’re trying to choose between what’s right and what seems cool.
10. Have fun. HAVE FUN.
I can’t stress this more. Wake up every day with the thought that this will be the best day yet. Wake up thinking you’re beautiful and you can do anything. I promise you’ll be a happier person in just a week of this. If you have a day where you feel like crap, feel like crap. But get back up the next day and tell yourself you can do this. Without happiness and optimism, life will be more dull than it needs to be.
Governor’s School for the Arts 2010
Is there something you’ve done that you look back on now and see as a learning experience?
Megan Jack is a college freshman at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee majoring in Entertainment Industry Studies with a minor in Mathematics. Originally from Moundsville, West Virginia, Megan was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of West Virginia for 2011. Learn more about Megan here!