5 Pieces Of Advice For Incoming High School Freshmen

Freshman! The term brings back memories. Not only do I remember being on the receiving end of many remarks of ill intent as one, but I also remember having the gonads to walk through the seniors’ hallway taunting them as I myself yelled, “Freshman! Freshman!” *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap” “Freshman! Freshman!” *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap*

Surprisingly enough, however, I ended up getting through freshman year without any serious damage. I got pushed into a vending machine one time, but we’ll get into that later.

Seeing as I’m set to enter my senior year of high school in a few weeks I thought I’d take some time to look back at the beginning of my high school career and offer you new cats on the block some advice for getting through this year without being too traumatized.

Join A Sport (Or At Least Some Clubs)

This piece of advice probably makes me sound like a hypocrite after pursuing an interest in juggling and opting not to play soccer the past two years. The truth is, however, that I wouldn’t give up my freshman year of soccer for anything. It was perhaps the two funnest months of my life, it helped me meet some of my best friends and it provided me with memories I’ll never forget.

There’s several reasons I’d recommend you join a sport as well. The first as I said is the potential for making new friends. Not to sound overly pessimistic, but there’s enough sucky things about high school as it is. You don’t want to try getting through the next four years of your life without anyone to hang out with, do stupid sh!#, and make memories with.

Joining a sport helps combat this as the natural camaraderie you experience with your team mates will often translate to off the field relationships as well. When you’re taking the bus to an away game, and your entire team is Whistling to Flo Rida’s Whistle song it’s not a big stretch to go from fellow Whistlers to friends.

Making friends in the classroom certainly isn’t inconceivable, but it’ll probably take longer, and it’s just a little bigger of a stretch than going from fellow Whistlers to friends.

It’s also nice, however, to have relationships from fall sports so that on the first day(s) of school you can be more at ease knowing that you’ve already got familiar faces to point you in the right direction when you get lost, and friends you can sit with at lunch.

Of course, the other benefit of being in a sport is that it’ll benefit you on a personal level by keeping you in shape. A healthy body leads to a healthier mind and improved emotional health. Two things that you definitely want to have in high school.

Even if you don’t LOVE sports I’d still recommend you join one freshman year. If you’re just not down for any of the sports your school offers though I’d say to at least join some clubs. Even if they sound stupid you may enjoy them and if not you can quit later.

The most important thing is that being a part of some extracurricular activities will allow you to make friends and prevent the awkwardness of trying to work your way into an already established clique later.

Focus On School

I’ve learned a lot in high school, but little of that has come from the actual academic curriculum. With that being said, I still think it’s important to pay attention, and maintain decent grades in school.

You might think that you’re going to be a professional athlete, or successful business owner in five years, but it’s difficult to really know for sure where you’re headed when you’re as young as we are. Your interests will likely change over the next few years so you want to keep your options open and at least have the opportunity to attend university if you so choose.

I’m not saying you have to take all advanced classes, and spend your entire weekends pouring over the scandalous amount of homework you’ve been given. I think that’s a stupid way to spend your high school years. I’m just saying to put in a reasonable effort so that you’ve got some flexibility with your future when you get to be my age.

Don’t Let Stupid Sh!# Get To You

Like I mentioned earlier I got shoved into a vending machine when I was a freshman. There was a junior who hated me because sometimes when he’d mock me I’d bust out my own verbal game and make him look like a tool in front of the girl he was trying to impress. Most the time, however, my only response to his insults was laughter.

This drove him even more crazy than when I delivered my comebacks. Ironically enough, I wasn’t even trying to taunt the kid with my laughs. I just honestly found humor in his insults and the fact that I was living in such a strange reality where his insults were directed at me of all people.

One day I laughed so hard at one of his insults he pushed me as hard as he could and I yelled, “Wheeeee!!! It’s like a roller coaster!” as I stumbled across the hallway. Then he yelled, “You like roller coasters HUHH?” and pushed me again as I flew across the hallway and crashed into a vending machine.

While most people would feel embarrassed or cry after something like that you know what I did? I laughed! And not a fake laugh either, but one of those laughs where you’re laughing so hard your stomach begins to hurt.

The kid didn’t have the balls to do anything else because a teacher came out of her class and I stood there trying not to fall over because I was laughing so hard at the absurdity of the entire situation. What’s the lesson here?

Don’t let stupid sh!# get to you. Half of my arm had turned somewhat green the next day because it had been quite a decent bruise, but I’d actually enjoyed the whole fiasco. I took pleasure in a dumb ass pushing me into a vending machine because I took nothing personally and was able to find humor in the strange reality I’d found myself in.

I’m not saying you need to be as obnoxious as me or humor yourself to the point where another kid wants to physically harm you. What I would say, however, is to not take stupid shit so seriously.

Learn to laugh at yourself when your pencil rolls off your desk a dozen times in the same class. Don’t let your expectations of how the world should work detract from the humor you could otherwise take away from the circumstances you find yourself in. This is something that extends far beyond high school and is something most adults would do well to learn.

Cultivate An Interest In Personal Development

Call me biased as I run a self-improvement blog, but I sincerely believe that cultivating an interest in personal development from a young age is possibly the single best thing you could do for yourself.

There’s certainly problems with personal development as well, but you’d be amazed at the change you can achieve if you apply yourself over the next few years. Find some books or blogs your resonate with, learn from them, and get to work on tackling your insecurities and bad habits.

You could go from suffering moderate social anxiety to living in social abundance and waking up to two or three invitations to hang out each morning. You could go from a skinny loser, to the jacked monster who owns your school’s dead lifting record. You could go from never having written a creative page in your life to publishing a decent novel by the time you’re a senior.

But these things aren’t going to take care of themselves. You’ve got to be proactive if you want to change the circumstances of your life. You don’t necessarily have to if you’re completely content with your life, but I think most of us have things about ourselves we’d like to change.

The process of taking in personal development material and applying it is what will allow you to most effectively do that.

Go Out With Your Friends And Have Fun

Getting good grades in school or spending time reading personal development material is great, but at the end of the day you’re not going to be happy if that’s all your doing. You’ve got to get out there, hang out with your buddies, and live a little as well.

Make memories for yourself. Whether that’s asking the cute chick in your Algebra class to Homecoming, Whistling on the bus with your teammates to Flo Rida, or laughing as you get pushed into a vending machine is irrelevant. Personally I’d recommend the last option ;), but hey, it’s your life and it’s up to you to decide what you’d like to experience.

Just remember that even though working hard is important, it’s also important you learn to let go and have a good time as well. For every weekend you stay inside studying you should spend another at the beach catching waves and building sand castles.

Maybe you’re a diehard country girl reading this, but I think we could agree most teenagers enjoy rap music. For that reason I’ll leave you on a quote by Wiz Khalifa, “Work Hard, Play Hard.” For the next four years of your life that’s not a bad philosophy to live by.

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Pictures are from 2011 in the months leading up to the beginning of my high school career. The first picture is some bad muffins I made, and the second picture is me making a face when I realized my sister didn’t have enough seats for everyone and that I was going to have to sit in on the ground.

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Why You Must Face Your Fear Of Being Vulnerable [And How To Do It]

I’m probably not qualified to talk about success. I’m 17 years old. I’m not going to tell you how to build the business of your dreams, or how to walk on water to impress the girl you’ve been fantasizing about. Simply put, I wouldn’t even know where to begin with giving you advice in those areas.

What I can tell you from experience, however, is how to be yourself. The real you. Not the bullshit mask you wear to prevent people from calling you out.

I’m not saying you have to be as weird as I am. Quite frankly, I don’t want you to be as weird as I am. I’m a 17 year old juggler that maintains a self-improvement blog in his spare time, and goes to school looking like this.

If I’m going to be honest I’m not universally liked. I don’t appeal to the masses. You can’t appeal to mainstream society when you fully express yourself. Uniqueness is polarizing. For every person that likes you there’s someone that doesn’t. But when you give others the real deal the people that like you REALLY like you.

Of course, that’s not to say I’m perfect. Occasionally there’s social shituations where I tense up and put on a mask as well. Aside from psychos I think everyone experiences social anxiety and has trouble expressing themselves from time to time.

With that being said I’d like to offer you the process I used to become more consistently authentic.

(Step 1) Understand Fear Desensitization

If someone is afraid of snakes there’s two ways to help them overcome their fear. First you can gradually expose them to their fear. Perhaps one day you make them stand in the same room as a snake, the next day you make them touch the snake, and the third day you make them hold the snake.

Gradual desensitization is effective because no step is significantly further than the last. This causes progress to come slowly, but because it’s not too difficult many people are able to adhere to a process of gradual desensitization.

On the other hand we have what I call dramatic desensitization. This is where you take your friend that’s afraid of snakes and tell them to jump into a pit of (safe) snakes. This is significantly more difficult than gradual desensitization, but if done will allow your friend to overcome their fear of snakes much more quickly.

Neither method is better or worse. It’s simply about how far your friend is willing to stretch his comfort zone. It would be spectacular if he was willing to jump straight into the heart of his fears, but if he’s not up for that much discomfort gradually facing his fears will work fine too. The most important thing is that he’s facing his fears and moving past them rather than trying to avoid them. The same applies for you.

(Step 2) Allow Yourself To Become Vulnerable

The reason we discussed your friend with a fear of snakes is because if you struggle with social authenticity you have a fear as well. It’s called fear of vulnerability. It’s nothing to be ashamed about. I have it as well.

Everyone is afraid to take off their mask and let their guard down because it opens you up to getting hurt. Unfortunately, without risk of negative emotions we can’t experience positive ones either. You can’t experience love without risk of heartbreak, and you can’t experience social freedom and spontaneity without risk of rejection.

Everyone fears allowing themselves to be vulnerable because we’ve all been hurt in the past. One way you can deal with this is making the choice to not allow others to get close to you anymore. That’s what I did for several years. Unfortunately, the only thing that resulted from this was emotional numbness.

We’re all different. Some people may be so traumatized that feeling nothing is the only thing they can handle. No judgement from me. I found the truth for me, however, was that as scary as it seemed I wanted to experience both sides of life.

The ups and the downs, the high and the slows, the laughs and the tears. If you’re content with feeling nothing at all there’s no need for you to read any further. You’re already content. You don’t need advice. However, if you decide the rewards of the roller coaster are worth the risks you’re going to have to do the same thing I did. Face your fear of vulnerability.

Unfortunately, your fears are like an obese person in a narrow hallway. There’s no way around them. The only way to get past them is to lower your shoulder and bowl them over. You’ve got to tackle your fears.

The method you use to do so is entirely up to you. You can gradually face your fear of vulnerability or you can come at it kicking and screaming. Either way is fine.

You can take a small step in the direction of vulnerability by raising your hand in class to ask the dumb question you’re afraid other people will make fun of you for, or you can take a giant leap by asking out the girl you’ve spent the last year crushing on.

The most important thing, however, is that you’re constantly attacking your fears rather than trying to run from them. Although allowing yourself to open up can be frightening, you’ll often find that the more negative emotions you’re willing to experience the more positive ones you’ll enjoy as well.

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Hope you enjoyed today’s post! I felt this one was as good as anything else I’ve produced in a long time. Glad to get it out here for you to enjoy as well. Have a good weekend and I’ll see you again Monday! 🙂

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You Don’t Know What You’re Missing ‘Til You Get It

I’ll admit it, I was going to write a Robin Williams article. I’ll also admit that I don’t even know who the guy was. I just figured writing an article about his 10 greatest quotes or something of that nature would be easy to write and provide a bunch of search traffic in the midst of his death.

However, between how overplayed those articles have been, and my friend and community member here Julien mentioning how those are his least favorite type of article we’ll take things in a different direction. We’re going to be creative this morning.

We’ve all heard the saying, “You don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.” It’s a beautiful quote and among all the articles being written about Robin Williams these days there’s clearly an element of truth to it. I’m a big fan of this saying.

An expression I’m not as big on, however, is the quote’s often evil sister, “You don’t know what you’re missing ‘til you get it.” Admittedly this expression sometimes has an element of truth to it. I recently experienced this as a result of starting to wake up early again. I’d forgotten the productivity and calmness the serenity of the morning brings.

That’s an example of a positive application of the quote. However, in mainstream society discovering the small pleasures of life is rarely the narrative you’re fed. Instead you’re told to consume.

You’re told that a new car with heated seats is the thing you didn’t even know you were missing, but will bring you happiness. You’re told that getting a big TV and an expensive watch is what’s going to lead to you feeling complete.

It’s possible that I just haven’t found a cool enough necklace yet, but from what I’ve experienced being a consumer rarely leads to more than a passing glimpse of fulfillment.

In fact, the fleeting happiness that occurs when one purchases a luxury good is often followed by feelings of inadequacy; either comparing yourself to others and having the urge to buy more, or feeling shameful that you’ve succumbed to your addiction of wasting money. To save you money and me sanity consider this.

From a perspective of consumerism, perhaps it’s better to practice gratefulness and appreciation for what you have before it’s gone rather than living by the philosophy, “You don’t know what you’re missing ‘til you get it.”

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We’ll be back again Friday with what I feel is the best post of the week. Hope you enjoyed this post, however, and I’ll see you again in a couple days!

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Why Being An Early Riser Often Leads To Success

Here I am. Awake. I got up at 5:00 A.M. and now I’m beginning to write you this blog post at 5:15. After my first summer of adopting a regular teenager’s sleep patterns I decided I was going to establish rising early as a habit again. I figured doing so would be good preparation for school as well as a “fun” experiment.

Surprisingly enough, despite shifting my summer sleep pattern four hours forward over the course of one night I actually feel calm and am enjoying the zen of this morning. However, this has made me curious.

Many successful people swear by waking up early. Why? What’s the difference between someone who wakes up at 4:00 A.M. and someone who stumbles out of bed at 10:00 A.M.? Does an early start to the day increase you chances of success, or is adjusting your sleep patterns merely for bragging rights? I found little research on this topic, so here’s some of my theories.

One Has No Obligations at 4:00 A.M.

When you’re waking up five hours before everyone else you have the ideal time to work. It’s calming to work on your passion, in the sweet solitude of the morning as you watch the sun rise out of the corner of your eye. There’s no text messages, meetings, or anyone to distract you.

Of course, you could argue that the same would apply for night owls who work in solitude late at night right? To some extent yes. But the problem lies in our next point.

Biological Clock/Being Well Rested

Although night owls may encounter the same quiet as early risers the problem lies in that many of them are unable to properly utilize their quiet time. Because of our biological clock the majority of us are more or less wired to wake and sleep with the rising and falling of the sun.

By going against this tendancy night owls are forcing themselves to do their creative work at inoptimal times. Of course, genetic variances exist and many who stay up late into the night are wired to do so.

However, even the natural night owls may struggle to do their best work at the end of the day because of our next point.

Willpower Is Finite

This is an oversimplication, but life is kind of like a video game. You’re only given so many “willpower points” each day and when you’re done using them all you’re essentially on autopilot until the next morning.

That’s why many successful people preach doing your most important work the minute you wake up. When you’ve got all your willpower points to work with doing something great is a lot more manageable.

Theoretically it’s possible to do your best work late at night, but it’s conceivable it would be difficult to consistently produce high quality work at a late hour because you’d rarely get to that point with a full tank of willpower points with which to do your work.

Feeling Of Accomplishment

There’s a certain sense of pride you experience when you know that you’re working before other people have even begun their days. It’s conceivable that the same may apply for those who stay up late to work while others are already sleeping, but nothing compares to the feeling of knowing you’ve accomplished a full day of work before others have even got out of bed.

It feels good, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is why so many early risers are successful. When you’ve got this feeling it leads you to wanting to do more work. You ask yourself, “How else can I move toward my goals today?”

Regardless of when you wake up that’s one of the best questions you can ask yourself on a daily basis. Of course, I’m sure there’s other reasons being an early riser seems to often lead to success and I’d love to hear what you think those are in the comments below. I’m excited to hear your thoughts on the topic.

Until then, I’m going to sit down and enjoy watching the sun as it rises over the trees in my back yard.

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Thanks to those that provided me with feedback recently on how I can improve the community here. I’ll definitely implement the things you’ve said to the best of my abilities.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post, but if not don’t fear. I’m going to establish a more regular posting schedule here. As such, we’ll be back later this week with two more posts. Wednesday we’ll discuss consumerism and the expression “You Don’t Know What You’re Missing ‘Til You Get It.” Friday we’ll bring what I feel is easily the best post of the bunch. “Why You Must Face Your Fear Of Being Vulnerable (And How To Do It)”

See you then!

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