Nine steps to be successful in high school

In an easy-to-read format, Lu-Romeo dishes out advice for what she feels would best help students through high school: everything from clubs to laundry.

1. Reject imposter syndrome

I may not know you, but I do know this: you are not a fraud. You deserve everything you have. Imposter syndrome can hit like a ton of bricks, especially when you find yourself in a minority. I’ve been there and it’s terrifying. But you can’t let the fear get in the way of success. If you’re lost, chances are that everyone else is too. Just because you’re the only girl at a programming event doesn’t mean your code is any less brilliant. Don’t be afraid to call yourself a poet—I guarantee you there’s a white guy out there with two mediocre haikus that’s already doing the same.

2. Eat breakfast

This one  is both straightforward and easy to do.  Wake up five minutes earlier to make instant oatmeal. But if that does not seem feasible, pack a Clif Bar for the drive to school (white chocolate macadamia is a personal favorite). I firmly believe that happiness in high school is directly correlated to how good your breakfasts are. Seriously,  prioritize your health. 

3. Ask for help

Older and wiser people than I have spoken on the importance of working together. It’s okay to ask for help! As Halford E. Luccock once said, “no one can whistle a symphony.” As Isaac Newton famously put it, “if I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” If you want to go fast, go alone. Sometimes it seems easier to take on a burden for yourself. But if you ever want to go far, you have to go together. You have to work together. You have to stick together. 

4. Find time to read

Researchers have found that students who read more frequently tend to score higher on the SATs. If for no other reason, start reading because of this. In all seriousness, reading is incredibly fulfilling. It teaches you things you’d never learn in the classroom. It forces you to approach ideas from perspectives you’d never think of yourself. I’ve spoken to so many people recently who regret not reading more in high school. Start carrying a book around when you go out! You won’t regret it.  

5. Say yes!

If your friend wants to join a new club, go with them! If your teacher tells you about a cool opportunity, pursue it! High school and college are about taking risks—don’t be afraid to try new things. Show up to soccer practice! Compete in a debate tournament!

Once I learned to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, I got the chance to do things like publish astrophysics data and research Spanish linguistics. It pays off, I promise. Opportunities are like rainbows—if you wait too long, you miss them.

6. But also quit the stuff that’s making you sad

Once you master the art of saying yes, you also have to learn to say no. Take a second now and reflect on what’s stressing you out. Is it absolutely necessary that you keep doing it? My life, for example, became infinitely more enjoyable when I stopped playing music for fifteen hours a week. You don’t have to continue doing something just because you always have. Cut the toxic people out of your life! Take honors classes if APs make you cry! There’s absolutely no shame in doing what’s best for you.

7. Do your laundry

Wash your clothes every week. It takes five minutes. Don’t be like me and put it off until tomorrow because you’re just SO busy tonight. You’re always busy! You won’t do it tomorrow! Take it from someone who spent the majority of high school living among piles of dirty t-shirts. If you don’t do your laundry, you’ll end up with no matching socks and you’ll have to lie on your college housing forms. And no, your parents doing it for you doesn’t count—you’re basically an adult, for crying out loud.

8. Find something to care about

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it’s cool not to care. Caring is everything! It’s okay to be fascinated by Fibonacci when all your friends hate math. It’s okay to spend money on a fancy sketchbook for the aesthetic. Don’t read Nietzsche—nihilism isn’t worth it. Buy scented candles because they make you happy. Tell your friends you love them.

9. Remember that school isn’t everything

High school drama can seem all-consuming, and your French grade may feel like the end of the world. But at the end of the day, there is a lot more going on in the world than what’s covered in The Merionite. People are hurting, countries are suffering, and the Earth’s climate is undeniably changing. We are fortunate enough to have access to an objectively wonderful education, and it is our responsibility as informed citizens to do everything in our power to help.