What I’ve Learned Since Graduating High School

As graduation season kicks off in full gear, I’ve been reminiscing on the lessons I’ve learned since I graduated high school in 2015. Even though it feels like I’ve been in college fotrever, the past three years have truly flown by and I’ve grown immensely through every trial, mistake, and success post-Kamehameha. I hope my words can guide any recent graduate through the difficult transition and maybe even help myself as I prepare for my final year of college.

  • Failure is okay and is more common than you think. I’ve failed more tests than I can count (including one whole class!) and I’ve constantly allowed my educational shortcomings to dictate how I value myself. In actuality, people fail all the time- in life, school, relationships, work, etc. Learning from one’s missteps rather than spiraling into negativity is what’s truly important. Failures have always made me stronger and I wouldn’t trade any past mistakes for anything (except maybe the time I took a W in Poli Sci and then failed the class a semester after). 
  • Fight for what you believe in, whether at school, at work, or on the streets. I’ve been told I’m “too emotional”, “too passionate”, and “too weak” to accomplish my dreams, but I’ve realized that standing up for myself and the issues and people I care about is what makes me strong. While I have to deal with racist, misogynistic, and homophobic authority figures and colleagues/classmates on a daily basis, I won’t allow those people to dictate how I take action.
  • Treasure your old friendships and make way for new ones. I struggled immensely in my transition from high school to college as I was constantly homesick and yearned for my best friends from Hawaiʻi. I’ve previously stated how lucky I am to have had lasting friendships ranging from fourth to ninth grade. Those friends have become my family and while I wished I had them with me at Baylor, I’m thankful for the incredible people who have taken me in and are a new set of family members such as Lo, Jonathan, Stephanie, and Leah.
  • Don’t settle in love or life. I would have saved myself a ton of heartbreak had I walked away from toxic relationships when my gut told me to. Unfortunately my insecurities and willingness to settle for the wrong person in front of me hurt me in the end. Love is scary and putting your whole heart and self on the line is always a risk, but staying with a bad person is even worse on the soul.
  • Mental health is extremely important. I didn’t start nurturing my mental health until my senior year of high school and I continue suffering from anxiety and depression symptoms to this day. Although I would love to consider myself emotionally stable and healthy, I care for my brain and puʻuwai by seeing a therapist, journaling, and researching new ways to cope with my illnesses.
  • It’s okay to still not know what you want. This time last year, I hoped to become an SID as I loved the work I did with Baylor’s athletic communications department. By this summer, I thought I would know exactly what I want to become, but my options remain open. My main passion is fighting for and raising awareness about issues of mass incarceration and police brutality, but I’m not sure how I can intertwine those issues with a career in a place I love. As of right now, I’m hoping to work as a writer with an organization like The Marshall Project or the Innocence Project and/or teach English or Poetry in prisons. But who knows? The future is wide open.
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