If you could only restart the year, you would.
I get it.
2019 has been tough.
From the increasingly tense political climate, ever-pressing environmental issues to everyday dilemmas we face as growing teenagers, it’s as if there is no escaping all of these problems. Most of the time, these things also hit very close to home.
Perhaps the school year hasn’t been great.
Maybe moving to that next level of high school or college has been beyond difficult. Change is scary because it forces us to adjust to new places, people, and uncertainties. But know that you aren’t in it alone. Who knows, you and your classmates are probably in the same boat. Whether that be a tough test or a lecture that isn’t making any sense. Reach out to those around you and don’t fall into the trap of blaming yourself for things you can’t control. There’s no point in stressing yourself out over these things.
Instead, take some time this holiday season to rest and recharge. Being a student is an overall balancing act—one that can be quite daunting on the mind. There’s always that constant worry about the next deadline or recitation. Sometimes, it gets overpowering and affects your mental health more than you realize. I know it did for me.
So please, take a breather.
Do something that sparks joy. Or better yet, spend time with people that spark joy.
Perhaps you’re struggling to keep it all together.
If you feel like your life is in a constant state of chaos, where sitting still even for just a second is unimaginable. Trust me, I get you. To be honest, most of my 2019 sped up really quickly because of all the commitments I willingly (and overbearingly) put on my plate. I’m not proud of that, but I’m learning to take it slow. So learn to pace yourself, too.
What I learned is that it’s totally okay to make time for yourself, too. Repeat after me: no one has it all together. And it’s okay. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking how your situation could always be ‘better’ in light of picture-perfect images on social media. There’d be a ton full of people whose lives seem to get it easy. Be quick to remind yourself that those images aren’t the full story. Behind those like-worthy posts were moments of self doubt, breakdowns, and stress. Everyone has their own story. And yours is just as valid.
I’ve tried to be braver this year by posting not only the highlights but also the struggles I’ve gone through—posting bright images with thoughtful captions about how we should constantly look beyond the surface level. I’ve realized that when I became more open and honest about my experiences, people would get the courage to do it, too. Out of those times of vulnerability were online messages and genuine connections that formed a community of people who are in it to get better. One post at a time. You can be a part of it, too.
Perhaps you feel like you could’ve done things better.
This one goes out to a lot of the high school seniors and current college freshmen. Those two years are the ones I believe undergo some real pressure, and we’re with you in it. Keep pressing on. Keep going. Popular culture like those in movies and TV shows tend to put this expectation of what it’s supposed to look like. Say a High School Musical waiting to happen! Maybe you’ve heard it said that between those senior class and freshman year experiences are supposed to be the ‘best four years of your life’. (Spoiler alert: it may or may not be.) It’s all up to you. Make your days count.
I’m currently on a gap year before college so while I can’t speak directly for the college freshmen, I can say that high school’s senior year isn’t supposed to be perfect. And it’s okay. From speaking to my college friends, it’s the same encouragement for freshmen students out there. Take it slow, and write your own stories.
During stressful times and scary transitions into new environments, know that it’s normal for people to drift apart. Not all friendships ultimately work out, and it’s all part of growing up. Truth be told, we aren’t the same people as we were at the start of the year. Do you like what you see in the mirror? I hope so.
Sure, there are plenty of things we wish we could’ve experienced differently. But that’s just what it is. We don’t get reboots or reruns in this lifetime. Only a year filled with learning and hope that we can do better in the next. Better grades. Better friends. Better decisions.
I know the what-ifs may never go away. But it’s time to let them go.
Fight regret with gratitude. Focus on your present, and what lies ahead.
Trust me, there’s more in store in the coming year.
To be honest, I don’t know what 2020 is going to be like for us, students. But I’m quite sure we are in for a great adventure. Like how it is for people who are learning to start anew.
If you could only restart the year, you would.
But I’m glad we couldn’t.
2019 has been tough. But so are you.