Hot Topic Tuesday: High School is Scary

The summer before ninth grade, I had major stress about, well--the ninth grade. I was SCARED about high school, you guys. I went to the same elementary school for 9 years--kindergarten to the eighth grade. Some of my classmates had been there since pre-school. There was no middle school for us and this made the transition to HS seem even more daunting than it usually is. Throw in the fact that my closest friend at elementary school was going to a DIFFERENT high school than I was, and I was facing that first day more or less on my own. So basically, I was terrified. All I could think about, 24/7, was how wrong everything could go.


I should disclaimer that I am a professional worrier. I can turn ANYTHING insignificant thing into a LARGE SCALE worry. Don't be like me, kids!

Anyways, I was sort of reflecting on this when I was trying to pick a Hot Topic for Tuesday. I was like, "It's got to be about high school." And then I was like, "What can I possibly say about high school?" And then I was like, "Man, Courtney, remember how SCARED you were of high school?"

And then I chuckled and wrote this blog entry.

The biggest things I was afraid of in no particular order:

Getting lost - because no one in the history of attending high school had ever gotten lost before
Sitting on the bus alone - because only losers sit on the bus alone, if everything I had learned from movies and books and songs about high school was true
Eating lunch alone - see above, except replace 'bus' for 'cafeteria'
Not making friends - because that would have sucked

There was more than that, but those were the biggest ones. They all seem pretty insignificant now but at the time they felt HUGE to me. And no matter how much people reassured me that I'd be fine and I was making a mountain out of a molehill, I could not stop stressing about it. It wasn't until I actually went and got it over with that I could see how much of a big deal they WEREN'T...

... Even when some of my "worst" fears ended up coming true.

(I GOT LOST YOU GUYS. AND I SURVIVED. Phew. Sometimes I sat on the bus ALONE! Sometimes I didn't! Same with eating lunch! My grades were fair-middling and it was not the end of the world!)

I was thinking if I could go back in time, I would stop by my house and tell my pre-high school self it would all be okay and that I would deal with much more terrible things later on in my life. My pre-high school self would probably not believe the first half of that sentence and consider the second half a terrible warning so actually if I could go back in time, I would maybe do something much more noble like somehow costar in a movie with Ray Milland.

Ray Milland: afraid of school or not?


My questions for you:

Were you/are you prepared for high school and what were you worried most about when it came to transitioning to the ninth grade? And especially: what advice would you give to anxious teens preparing for their first year?

* Did y'all see Hannah's awesome Teen Thursday blog post about failing? So worth the read.


Becca C. said...

Grade 8 was my first year of high school. Luckily I was part of a French Immersion program, so I was with mostly the same people in high school classes as I was in elementary school. Only a few of my classes were non-French Immersion, and then I had to mingle with kids from different parts of town and different elementary schools and that was interesting. I made a lot of friends I had never even seen before, even though we lived in a small town. But LORD was I ever terrified of the kids in older grades!!! Right up until my own graduation year, I was petrified of the older kids.

Claire Dawn said...

Our system is completely different. We switch schools at 11 and stay there til the end at 16 or 18. I think I did worry about my switch at 11, because one of my closest friends who was supposed to go to my secondary school moved to Jamaica, and my other 2 close friends were going to different schools. The 2 kids from primary going to the same school as me were my sworn enemy and a girl I had nothing in common with.

I think I would have grown out of these worries by high school age. As a kid I was pretty comfortable in my own skin.

Lydia Sharp said...

High school scared the snot out of me. I still have nightmares about not getting to class on time, getting lost, forgetting my locker combination, missing my bus, failing tests, showing up to chemistry class naked and having to wear one of those nasty plastic aprons the rest of the day... all that lovely stuff. Yep. I was traumatized.

Sarah Laurence said...

That must have been scary starting high school without your old friends!

Even though I stayed at the same school from nursery through 12th grade (a private school in NYC), high school was different and so much better than middle school. You got to choose more of your classes and everyone was more mature. The teachers were enthusiastic and the material was interesting and challenging. New students joined us for high school and often classes were a mix of grades so there were opportunities to make new friends who shared your interests both in class or in after school activities.

My advice would be to take classes and do activities that appeal to you personally instead of stressing about what will look good on your college applications. If you’re happy and engaged, you’ll do well. Open yourself up to making new friends without ditching your old friends. Expect ups and downs. Keep a journal; bad experiences will make great material for novels later!

jenniferpickrell said...

I lived in a small town - there were a few different elementary schools (K-5), but only one middle school (6-8) and one high school (9-12), so we were all stuck with each other. And I had an older bro, so I had already been inside the high school a ton of times and knew my way around.

But, oddly enough, I do still remember the first day of high school. As soon as I walked in, I ran into a friend who was wearing bright yellow pants (she was known for her off-the-wall outfits) and seeing her and those ugly pants completely wiped away any nerves I had.

brave chickens said...

My primary school had a secondary campus so most of my friends were with me (and still are). I actually don't remember much about my first day, only that I was a little nervous and was put in a class without my best friends. But I guess that's a good thing because I made more new friends.

It's quite funny to think back that when you were younger, everyone older looked so...old! So much taller and worldly than us. Haha :D

Susan Adrian said...

Of COURSE I was scared! I was the same as you--we had one school until 8th grade and then the big move to high school. Plus I was bullied at my grammar school and didn't really have any friends there...ugh.

Freshman year was tough, but my advice is to hang IN, do activities you're interested in, and generally it works out all right. Once I found drama I found my niche. :)

Kirsten Hubbard said...

I wasn't so scared of high school, since I was attending with all my friends. But I was TERRIFIED of junior high. I switched districts, and only knew a couple people, including my twin. Also, I'd heard you had to shower NAKED after P.E. I was skinny and flat-chested, and a private sort of girl, and OMG I was so scared. I lost way too much sleep over it.

Turned out, it wasn't true. (Looking back, I'm sure some jerk eighth grader lied to me at orientation.) We just had to splash our pits and faces. But OMG was I scared.

Denise Jaden said...

I went to high school before the age of middle school - B.M.S. So my big transition was from elementary school to Jr. High, or 8th grade.

I remember one of the scariest things for me was the idea of switching classes. I couldn't even fathom that, as I'd spent each of my first seven years firmly rooted in one classroom all day long. But somehow I found my way around and made it from class to class. By 12th grade the idea of spending all day in one classroom seemed so boring!

courtney summers said...

Becca, I was scared about upperclassmen too! They were so intimidating!

Claire Dawn, I was thinking about different school systems. I know that middle schools are not everywhere in Canada but in the US they seem pretty standard. I think it's awesome that you were so self-assured at a young age. I wish I had been! I would've saved myself a lot of stress!

Lydia, omg. I had most of those nightmares too! Twins in traumatization. Uhm at least it was character building...? (Right?)

Sarah, it definitely was. I would've LOVED to have stayed in the same place for all those years, I think. I love that you got the opportunity to have new experiences and meet new people despite that. Your advice is fantastic, too.

Jennifer, that is what my first day was missing. The bright yellow pants. I love that story. :)

brave chickens, that separation is a good thing on one level because it does force you to meet new people. And YES about everyone looking so older... I remember when I was like 14 and couldn't even imagine being 18 and then I was 18 and I was like, "This is 18?"

Susan, school is HARD, isn't it? I am glad I am not alone in this one school until 8th grade. I thought that was just a Canada thing! I love your advice. It's fantastic.

Kirsten, I think if I'd had that transition to junior high I would've definitely been scared about that. And I definitely freaked about the communal shower thing too! I left before I ever found out if it was seriously a communal shower thing or a face/pit splash though.

Denise, yes! The moving from class to class... periods, time blocks. It was so strange!

Hannah Harrington said...

I moved to a new town the summer before starting high school, and so I literally knew NO ONE my age on my first day. On top of that, the school was over three times as big both in size and student population than the school system I'd grown up in. I also didn't even start until a few days into the school year, since I was originally enrolled in an "alternative" high school (you know, the school for "bad" kids) before switching.

I cried on the way to school the first day because I'd woken up early to spend extra time primping and my younger cousin slipped into the bathroom while I ate breakfast and took an hour long shower with the door locked. And then another family member yelled at me for being upset about it. I had to go to school with sopping wet hair and my makeup thrown on in a rush (and that makeup ruined by the aforementioned crying); it was awful.

I was definitely nervous about the same things. The worst was no one knowing I was a new student-- two middle schools had integrated into the high school, so everyone assumed I was from the middle school they hadn't gone to. The school was two levels with six different hallways, like a freaking maze. Thankfully we were given ten blessed minutes in-between classes (due to the size of the school), so I was generally able to get to where I needed to go on time. The cafeteria was so intimidating that during lunch, I just grabbed my food and holed up in the library. That continued for a few days until a girl in one of my classes I'd been partnered up for a project with asked who I'd been sitting with at lunch, and I admitted I'd been spending them in the library-- she invited me to sit with her. That was all it took; making one friend who introduced me to her friends and suddenly I had a social life. And as the year went on I made friends with people in pretty much every class, so it wasn't lonely.

As far as advice for others: Try to relax as much as possible. Know that while remembering how to get to the science lab and what time your lunch ends and your locker combination all at once may seem daunting, it won't be long before it's all second nature. Oh, and if you get a printed class schedule, hang on to that sucker. Laminate it, even. Mine was invaluable for the first few weeks-- I would've been so lost without it!

Micol Ostow said...

This is such a boring answer - but I was always scared of math. Still am, actually.

Adeeva Afsheen said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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