By Ali Houser
Distinguished Young Woman of South Dakota for 2012
1. I wish I could’ve told myself to get more involved. I look back at my high school years and I always wish I had gotten involved in more community service projects. Not only do they look great on scholarship applications or * wink wink * a registration form for Distinguished Young Women, but they make you feel absolutely wonderful inside. Helping your community not only benefits those surrounding you but it benefits the person you’ll become.
2. I wish I could’ve told myself to apply for as many scholarships as possible. Seriously, it is the worst. It’s tedious and obnoxious filling out the same information over and over again. Why do you have to fill out the same amount of information for a $500 scholarship versus a $10,000 one? However, every dollar counts. It may not seem like it compared to that big, scary tuition bill but I promise, it’ll help. Someone once told me to think of it this way: It takes anywhere from a half hour to an hour to fill out a scholarship application. Now think about working a job. If you get the scholarship, it’s almost like you received $500 for an hour of work! Yes please!
3. I wish I could’ve told myself to spend more time with people that loved me. Going to college has made me realize how much I truly miss my friends and family. The first few weeks of college were some of the hardest I’ve ever had to experience. I didn’t like being away from my parents! However, now that I’ve adjusted to the college life (and absolutely love it!), it makes going home so much more exciting.
4. I wish I could’ve told myself to forget about those silly boys. I remember how exciting it was to be asked out on my first real date during my freshman year of high school! The butterflies I got in my stomach when I passed him in the hallway. The dance I did around my room when I got home. I also remember my first heartbreak and how absolutely awful it felt.
5. I wish I could’ve told myself that labels don’t matter. I thought it was the most important thing in the world to have the newest clothes with the best brands. But why? Why does it matter if I had a sweater that was $100 versus one that looked identical that was $15? Jessie J sang it best when she sang, “Ain’t about the cha-ching-cha-ching, ain’t about the ba-bling-ba-bling. Just wanna make the world dance, forget about the price tag.”
6. I wish I could’ve told myself to work harder in my academics. I firmly believe that you can never be “too smart” or “too educated.”
7. I wish I could’ve told myself that popularity isn’t everything. I went through a phase in which I was obsessed with being “popular.” However, with that popularity I became a mean girl. I was so rude to other people. I’m so happy that I finally realized that there is nothing cool or popular about being mean to others. I broke away from that bad obsession and worked to become the best friend and person that I could be.
8. I wish I could’ve told myself to lay off the makeup!! This one just speaks for itself.
9. I wish I could’ve told myself to step out of my comfort zone. For most of my high school life, I did everything to blend into the crowd. However, when I broke free of that, it was the best feeling in the world. I finally was myself.
10. But I didn’t tell myself these things. All these things I’ve listed above are things that I wish I had told myself in high school…but I didn’t. I wouldn’t call them regrets because I don’t believe in regretting anything. However, it’s more of a reminder of who I am today. I didn’t do these things in high school and if I had, I possibly may be a different person than I am right here, right now. I have come to love the person I’ve become. I may not be perfect but that’s just who I am.
Ali Houser is a college freshman at The University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in Minneapolis, Minnesota majoring in Dental Hygiene. Originally from Beresford, South Dakota, Ali was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of South Dakota for 2012. Learn more about Ali here!