What I Wish I Knew Before Highschool

I’m entering my last few months of high school, so I recently have been reflecting a lot on my high school years- supposedly the “best four years” of life. To be honest, these four years were not as great as I expected it to be, and I hope that they were not my best four years. I believe that those are yet to come! But my high school years weren’t terrible either- I learned so much about myself, God, friendships, and life in general. Although I can’t go back in time and change things, I know I can learn and grow from what I know now.

Here are the 10 things I would tell myself if I could time travel back to the days before I started high school. There are, of course, many, many more things I could think of, but for the sake of the reader I limited myself to 10 here. (Side note: I attended public school in the US for 9th grade before starting homeschooling in 10th grade. Many, but not all, of the things listed here refer back to my freshmen year in public school.)

  1. It will go by quickly, so enjoy it. I remember many people telling me this before I started high school, but I didn’t really believe them. I’m the type of the person who is not good at living “in the moment”. I’m almost always looking forward to the next thing. But now that high school is almost over, I really wish I enjoyed it a lot more.
  2. Many things will not go the way you want it to. But don’t worry. I would be so much more worried, in fact, if things actually did go the way I wanted it to. Just another fact to prove that God’s plan is much better than anything I could think of.
  3. Makeup works only if you put it on the right way. High school was the time my mom finally let me wear makeup. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that slapping on makeup in any old way actually defeats the purpose of makeup. Practicing (and watching tutorials on YouTube) is clearly key.
  4. Wearing makeup is not necessary. There were three reasons I wore makeup:
    1.  I felt pressured to fit in because most girls my age were wearing makeup.
    2.  It made me feel more mature. People at school used to call me “cute”, as in cute like a little kid (sigh, these Asian genes). They probably meant it as a compliment, but it really annoyed me. (Ironically, in Indonesia people think I look a lot older than my real age. Also annoying. Sigh.)
    3. It was fun. And it still is! But it is honestly not worth waking up an hour earlier to do. I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to wear makeup for fun, but I wish that I did not feel like I had to wear makeup so I could fit in with others.
  5. Mommy knows everything. No matter how much I try to deny it. It will be proven time and time again. No, she’s not psychic. It’s just some kind of sixth sense mother’s have. So it’s best if I listen to her and take her advice rather than hear the words “I told you so”.
  6. You don’t have to date in high school. I wish I never believed that I had to get a boyfriend in order to be a “normal” high school student. It really does not matter whether or not you date in high school. And here’s a secret: most high school relationships don’t make it past graduation.
  7. Your sisters are your best friends. Perhaps this has been true ever since Dongsaeng and Maknae were born, but we did not acknowledge it until we were home schooled and were together almost 24/7. My sisters are the ones who know me best, are with me even when other friends come and go, and are beside me no matter where we move. Yes, there are times I think I would be better without them. But at the end of the day, I know that I need them. They are, after all, my besties for life.
  8. It is possible to read too many books. I was addicted to reading. And I saw no problem with it- I mean, books are harmless, right? Wrong. It has been proven many times in history that books harbor ideas, and ideas can be one of, if not the most, dangerous things in the world. I wish I could have been more discerning in the books I read, and taken a break from reading from time to time to work on other things.
  9. Having a phone is overrated. I believed that I was the last person in my whole school to have a cell phone. When I finally did get one, I realized it’s actually not that big of a deal. Having a cell phone brings along problems of its own- distractions, addictions to social media, etc. Plus, real life conversation beats texting any day.
  10. Having many friends is not as important as being a good friend. I focused way too much on having friends and getting people to like me, without spending much energy on being a good friend and developing friendships. I wish I had focused more on the quality, rather than the quantity of friendships.

So there you have it. The 10 things I wish I knew before starting high school. Soon I will be moving on to the next stage of my life. I don’t know what it will bring, but I do know I will continue to make mistakes. However, I hope I will never stop reflecting on the past, because I believe the best lessons are learned from history.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

1 Corinthians 13:11

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When We Get Advice We Don’t Want

I love getting advice. Whether it’s for little things such as picking out what to wear for church the next day, or more significant things like what I should major in, I enjoy getting other people’s opinions on things.

What I don’t love, on the other hand, is listening to and taking that said advice. Not for the little things such as picking out what to wear (because I trust that Dongsaeng has a better fashion sense than I). I mean for the big things, like college, relationships, the future, etc.

Sure, I can nod and agree to everything someone just told me, but deep down in my heart I know that I’m still going to follow my way.

Kind of ironic, isn’t it?

This probably happens most often with my parents. My parents are usually the first people I go to for advice. I have been very blessed to have a mom and dad I can trust and be comfortable around 100%. However, this means that when I disagree with them I will immediately speak out.

The conversation usually goes something like this:

“Mom, Dad, what do you think about (…)?”

“Well, I think that it’s best if (…).”

“Hmm… No I don’t think that will work because (…). I think I should (…) instead.”

“I really don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“But (…) is a lot better than what you just suggested.”

“Why did you ask for my advice if you don’t even want to listen to what I have to say?”

Sigh. This has happened a countless number of times. Just ask my parents.

Yes, I do love asking for advice. But when it comes to listening and applying it…that’s a different story.

Why? Because I tend to have my own agenda that I want to stick to. And when I ask for advice, it’s because I want my own agenda to be approved and confirmed by others, not because I want to listen to what they have to say. When someone gives advice that I don’t want, I immediately reject it.

Why is this a problem? There are plenty of Bible verses that tell us God’s point of view on advice:

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14)

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. (Proverbs 19:20)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory. (Proverbs 24:6)

Disclaimer: I am definitely not saying that we should take every single piece of advice that we get. Notice in the last verse that it says wise guidance, not just any kind of guidance. Also, Proverbs 3:6 says that we should acknowledge God in all our decisions. This means we should 1) be careful who we are taking advice from, and 2) weigh every piece of advice we get against the Word of God. Even if we get advice from someone we trust 100% (parents, pastor, etc.), we should always weigh their words against the Truth.

I lately realized another reason why we need to be willing to take advice. If we cannot take the advice of those around us, how can we take advice and direction from God? 

My mom loves to remind me, “Yovela, make sure when you are praying, you pray without bringing your own agenda to God.”

I want to share a beautiful analogy I heard a while ago: When we pray, we shouldn’t bring a notebook full of our own plans and then ask God to put His stamp of approval upon it. Instead, we hand God a blank notebook, blank except for our stamp of approval upon it. Then we can ask Him to fill it in with His plans. This is surrendering our will to God. We say, “God, here is my life. Tell me what to do. Whatever it is, I will do it.”

This is very difficult. Believe me- this is something I have and probably will continue to struggle with. But let us ask God for humbleness and a willingness to empty our agenda books and take the godly advice of others around us- even if it’s advice we don’t want.