By Yasmeen Kumar, Guest Blogger
It just sunk in. In less than four months I will graduate high school. It’ll be fun to get out of the daily routine that I’ve been stuck in for the past five years and finally have some control over what I do. Being able to study what I want, to work, and go out with friends, that all makes university sound super exciting. But to be completely honest, I’m really going to miss high school.
Nevertheless, change is inevitable. At some point in time we need to move on, start a fresh chapter, and make new memories with new people. It’s hard for me to let go, but I feel okay about it knowing that I’ve made such amazing memories during my high school career. I’ve had the best experiences, met the greatest people on the planet, and have been involved in some awesome groups. It’s all of these things that have prepared me for the next chapter of my life.
Pursue Your Passions. I have a passion for social justice and I wanted to get involved in something that would let me make social change within my school. So I joined my school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, a group of students devoted to putting an end to homophobia and transphobia, particularly by changing student attitudes. Before joining this club, I never imagined that I would have the courage and confidence to stand in front of classes to address such a sensitive topic, especially in front of older students whom I didn’t even know. But that’s exactly what I did.
For the past 3 years I have given speeches to every grade 10 English class at my school– that’s hundreds of students. When I first started doing these talks, I would stand up in front of the class nervously with my sweaty hands tightly gripping my cue cards, and now I don’t even have to think about it. This fantastic club allows me to be proud of myself for making a difference, and has boosted my self-esteem and confidence.
I found something that I care about and did something with it, and I urge you all to do the same. Don’t just join a random club, but really try to turn your passion into something extraordinary.
Take Risks and Give It Time. In grade six, when we all had to take band and learn an instrument, I picked the flute. I hated it. It was hard and I didn’t understand it. I told myself that there was no chance that I would take band in high school. But I did. And it was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
In high school I learned to love my flute and actually became really good at it. I instantly made friends with all the other band geeks, and they’ve become some of my best friends. The amazing teacher made me love music so much that I picked up two new instruments and joined the jazz band. Some of my favorite high school memories are of staying up until 4am on band trips with my friends. If I hadn’t had taken band, I really don’t know what high school would have been like for me. It’s given me a second family, a classroom that feels like home, a conductor who is more like a mother than a teacher, and a new appreciation for music. I took a risk and tried something that I thought I hated, and it turned out to be something I love.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make New Friends. High school is not easy. Between focusing on getting good grades, having a social life, dealing with drama, and trying to find yourself, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. That’s why we need those amazing friends in our lives, to help us stay on the right track, to pick us up when we are down, and to drive us to DO better and to BE better. Don’t be afraid to let people in, to step outside of your comfort zone and talk to people who you normally don’t think to talk to. I have the craziest, most diverse group of friends who always keep things interesting, and I know that a lot of them will remain my friends for years and years to come.
Take Advantage of Everything. To all the young girls and boys reading this, make the most of your time at school. Find something that you’re passionate about, do something with it, make yourself proud, get involved, meet new people, and seize every opportunity you get to do something special. It’s very easy to just show up for class and do nothing extra, but you will regret it. The best memories of high school are the things you did, the things you can say you were involved with, and the relationships you built along the way. I had a great time, and I hope you find your own way to do so, too.
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Yasmeen Kumar is an anti-poverty activist, blogger, animal lover, and band geek. Having started Helping Homeless Vancouver- a local anti-poverty initiative, Yasmeen is working towards a dream of getting people off the streets and into permanent housing. Outspoken, compassionate, fierce, and driven, Yasmeen is ready to take on the world and make some serious change. Follow her at: Facebook.com/helpinghomelessvancouver, yaskumar.tumblr.com, @yasmeenkumar
image via hbinependent.com