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I’m not a big fan of living in the past, regretting the past or punishing myself incessantly for things I may have done or not done in the past. But there are certain things that would have been nice to know (or to have really understood) back in high school.

I think if I had, I probably could have saved myself from a lot of self-doubt, hurt, and frustration.

But the good news is we can know these things now. And be grateful we are learning and applying them today instead of 10 years from today. It also means we can immediately begin to bask in all the splendor, joy and emotional freedom each of these understandings has to offer.

1. People don’t have as much time as we think they do to judge us.

Well, maybe they did have more time for this unbecoming activity in high school. But even so, research has been done with high school students showing that when they felt like they were being watched and judged for every little move or misstep they made, those doing the judging were doing so with far less severity than anticipated.

To add to that, think about it this way: if we are all spending so much of our time, energy and effort thinking about and worrying about how others are judging us, who has any time left over to actually be doing all of this harsh judging? 

I know it may not have been quite as relevant a realization in high school as it is in adulthood: but it reflects more poorly on the character of the person doing the judging than the person being judged.

2. Much of who I am is the result of the choices I make.

If I want to be a respected and honourable person with humility and integrity, the choices I make need to fall in line with those things.

We are faced with a whole heap of choices each and every day and often times the choices we may be more drawn to are not always the one conducive to flourishing as individuals. Sometimes it’s the tough and inconvenient choice that is ultimately the right or best one for our own well-being and the well-being of those important to us.

3. Mean girls (and boys) are mean because they feel bad inside and are trying to boost themselves up by putting someone else down.

Only hurt people hurt people. But that’s not an excuse for bad behaviour. Just because they are going through their own pain it doesn’t give them carte blanche to treat everyone else however they please. But perhaps knowing this may help us become less reactive and even a little empathic and understanding toward them and their apparent struggle.

Because really, it’s not about us, it’s about them. And instead being bitter toward them for having been mean, maybe we can have just a tiny bit of compassion.

I was the target of a mean girl once. And because of her dynamic, magnetic, and charismatic personality she was able to turn the majority of my friends against me one fine fall day in grade 8.

I’m still not sure why she chose me, or if there even was a specific reason, but I did learn later that at the same time as all of this was happening her parents were going through a messy divorce.

Having this information helped me to extend a little compassion toward this girl while working through this painful incident as an adult, and it really did help in my healing process.

4. You’re parents are not trying to make your life difficult on purpose:

But in high school it like totally feels like it!

While I thought my parents were giving me rules, boundaries, guidelines and consequences in order to ruin my life and spoil all my fun, I realize now they were actually trying to keep me safe and prevent me from making choices that could have had a negative impact on me for years to come.

Parents love their children, and most of the time actually do want what’s best for them (well, hopefully anyway). Parenting is a tough job and I wish I’d been able to recognize and appreciate this in high school so I could have maybe cut my folks a bit more slack.

5. Learning is never a waste:

You know when you had to take that class that seemed totally useless and made you ask yourself “When am I EVER going to use this crap in real life?!?” Thus leading you to expend all kinds of energy trying to avoid or justify why you shouldn’t be required to take said mandatory class?

But the thing is, no matter what we’re learning or where we’re learning, it all brings more knowledge and understanding. And it also serves to expand and grow our minds in ways we might not have otherwise had the opportunity to experience.

And although we might not think something we’re learning is going to end up being useful or relevant, you never know and you might actually be surprised. I know I have been.

What do you know now as an adult that you wish you’d known in high school?

You can connect with Julia Kristina Counselling on Facebook and Twitter