To younger me, with love

Fr. Chelsea poses for a picture in English class with her beautiful pipe cleaner crown.

Fr. Chelsea poses for a picture in English class with her beautiful pipe cleaner crown.

Chelsea Overbeek

As I put one foot in front of the other down Mainstreet, that weird fluttering in my stomach grows. My palms start to sweat, my heart starts to skip, and my eyes start to follow all the new faces walking down the halls. After walking around my legs grew tired from all the steps I’ve been taking, but still, I couldn’t find Mr. Knoll’s classroom. I keep searching, seeing the numbers increase to 151, the feeling of relief calms me. Walking to the end of the hallway, I prepare myself to see all the new faces. I read the number on the door, and my heart drops to my feet. It’s not the right room. I start to panic when two upperclassmen bump into me. The anger on their face turned mine bright red. Embarrassed, I turn around and keep searching the halls. After about five more minutes of wandering, I finally find the classroom filled with eyes locked on me as I walk in late. Feeling judged, I quietly find an open seat in the back and keep my head down.

   Looking back on this as a junior makes me want to rip out my hair. Knowing how my fears held me back from simple issues that could have been extremely easy infuriates me. When I walked into that classroom, the only feeling felt was judgment, but no one cared who I was. There are some helpful tips and tricks that I wish I had known in my first year of high school.  

   To younger me, 

   Hey Chuck! Welcome to your first year of high school! I can vividly remember those nervous flutters going on in your stomach right before you walk into that humongous building. High school can be scary at first, but it gets a lot easier as the weeks go on. I want to let you in on some of the tips that’ll make freshman year a lot better. 

   Ask your teacher for help. It’s ok not to understand something. School isn’t supposed to be a walk in the park. Teachers have a job to help you learn and understand. They’re not going to get mad or annoyed because you don’t get it; they’ll be thrilled that you want to understand and do well. In World history with Mrs. Mccrumb, do not take the World War 2 test without stopping in for seminar the day before the test. Or you’ll get a B- on it and Mom will be extremely upset. 

   Impressing others with your athletic performance isn’t a big deal. Yes, I know you want people to think of you as a good athlete. People will make jokes about you, tell you that you suck, or that you’re the worst player. Like Dad said, “Not everyone is going to think you’re great.” You are playing a high school sport, and it’s supposed to be enjoyable. Playing scared isn’t the answer. Yes, coaches yelling at you is very scary, and people’s judgment is also frightening, but you shouldn’t care. Now, when we play in front of people, it’s just playing for our family and us. I wish you didn’t care what people thought of us so early on, so you could’ve played harder and gotten better. So many of our coaches have told us, “Why are you so scared of what others think? You wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think you should be on this team.” 

   Make new friends. I know how it sounds; it’s scary talking to someone new. Even now as a junior it’s still scary. You will have thoughts like, “they’re not gonna like me,” or “they’re going to make fun of me for trying.” At the beginning of the year, my friend had split into parts. I had gone a while without anyone to spend my time with outside of school and sports. Every weekend I would spend alone in my room, watching Criminal Minds. This was draining, and it took a while for me to make new friends I enjoyed spending time with. 

    You can’t please everyone. I am by no means saying that you shouldn’t care if you make people unhappy, but that it’s hard to maintain your peers’ happiness. You’re going to disagree with people; you shouldn’t change your opinion on something just because someone doesn’t like it. If they can’t accept that you believe in something different, they’re not worth the time arguing about it. You just have to be respectful of their feelings and opinions.

   Answering one question wrong in front of the class isn’t the end of the world. Sure it’s embarrassing, but no one will remember that the next day. The other day this year, I answered a question wrong in front of my entire 6th hour; sure, it was a bit degrading, but no one remembers your embarrassing moment, and no one is going to joke about it. You shouldn’t care because everyone has gotten an answer wrong in class, and you have definitely let out a little chuckle once or twice.

  Bring a coat to school during the winter. It is below 20 outside, honey; it’s cold. Bring a coat. I don’t know why, but people find it embarrassing to carry a coat around inside of school. You are one of those people. It would be in the 10s, and you would not wear a coat solely because  you thought you would look weird to your peers. Mom and Dad will always say, “Why are you not wearing a coat? It’s 20 degrees outside.” you will always respond, “I don’t think it’s that cold outside.”

   Some people just aren’t going to like you. Upsetting people is something that I’ve always tried to avoid, but there are just some people that will not like you. Trying to change yourself to fit their standards of what you should be, act, or dress isn’t necessary. Everyone has a different opinion, and they are entitled to it. You just have to be kind and respectful to them and not worry about making them change their minds about you. Be nice, and forget about it.

   Do your homework in class. Yea, honey, you do not have enough time after school to complete all your homework. With playing school sports and then club sports throughout the fall and winter, you’re not going to get more than 30 minutes at your house. So when the teacher gives you time in class, use it. Seminar is a super helpful way to get your homework done in that time without getting other classes piled onto your already enormous stack. Falling behind on assignments puts down your grade A TON, and mom gets very upset with us when it’s not completed.

   These were just some of the things I wanted to let you in on. I hope you take these into consideration and try to get over those silly fears. Have a great rest of your freshman year!

   With love,

   Older you


   Freshman year was definitely over-exaggerated by the high school kids that I had known. My brother always raised those anxious feelings by telling me how much his freshman year sucked. His stories got me worked up until, about a month in, I realized how high school wasn’t bad at all.

   Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle with most of these today, but it has improved over time. These are just some things that I believe would have made my freshman year a lot easier if I had known them. I believe how I am in junior year is because of what I’ve done, places I’ve gone, and people I’ve met. We get influenced faster than we realize we are changing. Up to you to make sure that change will get you where you want to be.