What I’d do differently (Brenda Hiatt)

 Oh, if I could only go back to high school as a teen, knowing what I know now… Isn’t that a fantasy we’ve all had? So, what would I do differently? Really?

For one thing, I’d worry a whole lot less about what all the other kids think of me. Looking back, I realize everyone was so obsessed about what others thought of them that they spent very little time thinking about anyone else. In retrospect, high school is a lot like a fishbowl where everyone is outside looking in. From one’s vantage point, it looks like all those other people are inside, part of the “in crowd,” but in reality they’re just looking in from the other side. It’s sad to think how much mental energy I wasted agonizing over what everyone else thought of me when mostly…they didn’t.


Another thing I’d do differently? Be more involved. Join things. Participate. I spent a lot of time on the sidelines in high school and missed out on quite a few things I probably would have enjoyed. I was invited to join the debate team and declined because it sounded like too much work (and I was intimidated by the “brainiacs,” as I perceived them, on the team). Only later did I realize what an honor it was to be asked. Ditto auditioning for a school play. That sounded way too scary, so I ran the other way. It was another twenty years before I discovered how much fun acting can be. 


Maybe the most important thing I’d do differently is listen more. Really take time to hear what others are saying, especially about themselves. I know I missed out on what could have become deep, longterm friendships, because I was too self-absorbed to pay attention and make connections. Skimming the surface felt like a safe way to make it through high school at the time, but I could have experienced and savored so much more. 

I take heart from this George Eliot quote: “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” A lot of years have passed since I was a teen, but I still hope to get there!

Brenda Hiatt is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the award-winning
Starstruck series. At ten books and counting, each has received better reviews than the book before. She especially loves the reviews that complain about the reader staying up all night to find out what happens next! 


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