5 Pieces of Advice for High School Students

"We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give." Sir Winston Churchill

“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” Sir Winston Churchill

Last Thursday evening I participated in Windermere Secondary School’s first Women in Business & Industry event in East Vancouver. It was a night dedicated to girls (and the amazing places they’ll go!) with support from courteous boys who served Shirley Temples and fancy hors d’oeuvres as we ladies mingled. I must first say, props to the teacher who initiated this event! And also, excellent team work, Warriors!

It’s been 12 years since I graduated from high school to many of the student’s disbelief (they thought I was 20!). Listening to the girls’ plans for the future, I tried to recall what I wanted to do with my life when I was in their shoes. It took me a looooong time to remember: I had plans to work in the biotech field. I was going to study Biophysics or Biomedical Engineering. My biggest concern was to start off in Sciences or Engineering? I had thought that one decision would determine my life!

Fast forward 12 years and the biotech hype was a blip in my past. My most recent use of biology and physics knowledge was last night during a game of science themed charades. I am now a coach – something that was never on my radar. So with this in mind, I have the following advice for high school students pondering their future:

1) It’s okay to change your mind! Changing your mind is NOT a sign of weakness or failure or fickleness or (insert negative word). It is a sign of being wise enough to understand what you need/want, and brave enough to go after it. To change course when you see an iceberg ahead also demonstrates maturity and self love.

2) Build a supportive social network around you. This means both giving and receiving support with an open heart. Life gets crazy. Having people to turn to when you need a shoulder to cry, a couch to sleep on, or a ride to the ER is helpful for basic survival and for thriving mental health. (And yes, I’ve been on the giving and receiving end of all 3 mentioned scenarios!) Bonus: when it’s time for celebration, you have more people to celebrate with!

3) Try new things all the time. Study abroad. Run a student club. Volunteer for a local charity. Learn a hobby. Approach interesting people for informational interviews. Do things that scare you because on the other side of the fear there’s, “Wow! I did that! I’m pretty freaking amazing. What else can I do?” Over time, you learn more about your likes/dislikes and accomplish bigger and greater things. You’ll also smile more often and feel darn proud of yourself!

4) Become okay with uncertainty. It’s great to be prepared but you can never plan for everything. This is where the wonderful skill of handling uncertainty comes in. It shows up differently for everyone but I think confidence in yourself is huge. Know that you are naturally creative, resourceful, and whole. Everything will be okay in the end. Please don’t let the unknown scare you so much that you stay stuck in an unpleasant situation. If you don’t step outside your comfortable “known zone” you might miss wonderful opportunities!

5) Trust your gut. Those butterflies in your stomach. That tingle at the back of your head. The rapid and heavy heartbeat. These are all ways that your body is communicating with you. Notice how your body talks to you and learn to understand the deeper messages. You are your best ally for joy and success in life!

Rainbow Flag with Hearts

Happy to see this rainbow flag at the high school.
Love yourself and love others! Love authentically!

Got more tips to add? Comment below!
Find this advice helpful? Forward to young people in your life!