Dear High School AJ,

High school is going to be a pretty fun four years for you. You’re going to strengthen friendships, laugh, cry, have some great experiences, heartbreak but oh boy will you still be naive even after getting your degree.

To be honest, school is going to be very easy for you. There’s not really going to be much of a challenge for you as you finish in the top 5% of your graduating class of 650+ students but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn how to study. College will be quite a wake up call when you have to become more self-reliant and self-motivated. Do yourself a favor and learn some better habits.

More importantly, challenge yourself. You have enough talents and intelligence to do above average in most things, but that isn’t enough. We always had big goals and expectations for ourselves so put the work in early to set yourself up for better success later. Push your interests more and don’t just settle for above average. There’s more out there to achieve especially since we always knew we were going to college.

Speaking of good habits, how about thinking about your diet and physical fitness a little bit more? Don’t get me wrong, gym class, marching band and lacrosse keeps you active but just because of that, and the teenage metabolism, doesn’t mean you always have to eat like crap. Build up those habits because the lack of team activity and that freshman 15 are the worst. I’m not saying a diet but do you always need to get fast food? Not to mention saving a few bucks since we don’t work with our parents split time wouldn’t be the worst thing.

Half of our summers are spent out of town with mom and more often than not we do nothing. I know we weren’t happy about it and felt like we were missing out on so much, but that’s just time wasted. Read, write, be active, use that time for hobbies. You always wanted to be a better artist, find a class or even just try it. The only way you’re going to get better is to do it. Blog about sports, podcast, there are plenty of things you can start own your own with very little effort.

Always look for something new to try. Don’t get me wrong, the senior blow off year of classes was a lot of fun but there’s no time for blow offs. It’s good to enjoy the moment but that last year of German, a senior math class, something else that could have been a challenge would have been worth it. Maybe there was another class that could have lead to another interest to pursue in college. There are always options to try in high school, that’s what it’s about.

But when it comes to the interests we do have, sports, radio, lacrosse and band, be better. Junior year we had a good season in lacrosse and didn’t take it seriously senior year and didn’t enjoy it. Our band director was always kind of a jerk, but we love music so why not push through and prove him wrong? Senior year you just lose focus and just have a good time. Living in the moment is good but you can always at least keep an eye on the future.

Now I know this may be a tough one to hear for a teenage boy, but girls are not the most important thing young fella. Did you really want the reputation of being the band womanizer Admittedly, it was a bit of an unfair label but those high school relationships don’t last and it’s just the beginning of meeting people. You’re going to go from a school of 3500 kids to a college of 40,000+ and many more people to meet along our career path. Those red flag dating stories later on are pure gold for radio but there are plenty more things to focus on in school and were those burnt bridges really worth it?

As much of a social butterfly as we became, one of the school’s class clowns, don’t isolate yourself so much. There are kids from other schools on your lacrosse team and sporting events to go to while you’re in school. There’s no reason not to make friends in other schools. There’s plenty of awesome people out there to meet and possibly even find a really strong friendship for the rest of your life.

When it comes to high school if you graduate, don’t get in any major trouble and don’t end up as a dad then you’ve done pretty well. We had a great four years and there’s not really a regret looking back, but with hindsight there are definitely things to improve on, but that’s always true. You didn’t party and chase the cool kids because you figured out who you were and comfortable with it, bravo. That’s one of the most important things you can accomplish.

In high school, and as a teenager, we think the world revolves around us and because of that we feel like everything is magnified and everyone is watching our mistakes. The truth is everyone is in the same boat and so wrapped up in themselves that it isn’t as bad as our imaginations make it. Especially since we went through high school in the infancy of social media, man that would have made it worse.

My advice for any student would be the same for myself. High school feels like it’s everything, but it isn’t. There are plenty of things to experience and try, but it is just the beginning. The world gets bigger and the shallowness doesn’t last. There were plenty of kids who were kings and queens of high school who peaked, as the cliché goes for those punk underdog kids, and that was the end. It is what you make it with plenty more in front of you.