By Ben Sykora
For the last four years, I have participated in high school.
In total, I have spent over 700 days and over 4,900 hours in school. The person I was when I walked through those doors the first time was a completely different person that will walk out those doors for the last time in just a few days.
If you know me, then you know I love to try to take huge concepts and break them down into bite sized pieces that I can take with me. One of my favorite ways to do that is bullet pointing.
About a week ago, I sent a message to my closest high school friends asking one question. I asked them to send me what they have learned during their last four years in high school in a few bullet point.
Here are all of those bullet points of wisdom I have gotten sent to me over the last week. Take a read, it’s worth it:
-If you love God and have faith, everything will fall in to place.
-If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.
-Trying to impress other people does nothing except exhaust you.
-It’s okay to cry.
-Be kind to yourself and give yourself breaks—you are completely different from the person next to you and comparing yourself to others will get you nothing but misery.
-You don’t have to be straight.
-Get to know the people around you.
-Make as many friends as possible.
-Life will never be about who likes you or how many people like you, as long as you love yourself
-Don’t impulse buy fish.
-Don’t break your phone if you didn’t back anything up.
-Listen and watch and do and be rather than sitting around wishing that you were.
-If you want to do something, do it.
-Don’t be afraid of what people will think. Do what makes you happy, even if people will judge you.
-Embrace your abnormalities.
-Having baby wipes on you at all times saves lives.
-Don’t hang out with just one group of people.
-Don’t be afraid to like something just because other people don’t like it.
-Put your trust in the right people and know when to distance yourself.
-Anything is possible if you can endure and work hard.
-Support other people’s passions.
-Go to as many things as you want even if you go alone because then you can meet new people who also enjoy the same thing.
-Read the news, learn about stuff happening now.
-Don’t be ignorant, ever.
-Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
-Fish are friends not food.
-Don’t be afraid to join a club or do something you are interested in, even if you have to do it alone.
-You don’t have to live with your parents.
-Talk to whoever you want even if you’re scared to make conversation because an amazing friendship can come out of it.
-You don’t have to be different.
-There’s only so much preparation high school can give you.
-Go to therapy.
-Don’t feel like you have no one to talk to, because there is always someone to help.
-Just because a snap story looks fun, doesn’t mean you would be having a better time than what you are doing (even if that’s Netflixing).
-Everybody has some kind of problem and you’re making yourself feel worse if you assume other’s lives are perfect.
-Don’t rely on others for your own happiness.
-Do and wear what you want.
-Do want you want, but also you don’t have to do things you don’t want to.
-I cannot always be in control of what happens in my life and that’s okay, because God always has a plan and always has a reason.
-Never change yourself for anyone.
-First impressions are almost always wrong so love everyone until they give you a reason not too.
-Look at the bright side of things.
-Love your friends and family everyday, because you do not know what will happen tommorrow.
-Don’t worry about being popular, spend time with the people you actually like.
-Do things that are outside of your comfort zone because they will pay off.
After reading some of the bite sized wisdom that was sent to me, I started to notice a common theme:
Be yourself: be who you really are; don’t let others change that.
Work hard: you can’t always control what will happen, but do your best and things will work out one way or another
Love: learn to truly love yourself and those around you, no matter the “differences.”
While all of these points are great, I believe wisdom takes action. If I learned anything in these last few years, it’s that knowledge and wisdom are quite different. Knowledge is all of the information I have gained from reading books and studying various topics, but wisdom is that practical ability of being able to discern the knowledge and apply it to my life. So all of this is for nothing without putting it into practice—without experience.
That is why I try my best to have a daily practice, so when those challenging times come I am ready.
Ben Sykora is always up to something, whether it is working, writing, running his charity, or attempting to pull off a miracle and pass his next exams. He is always ready for what’s next, and he even has a small notebook in his glove compartment to write in if any ideas come up. Ben is only 18, but he has never let that stop him. Starting out as an intern for an underdog political campaign, Ben has embarked on a journey to have the greatest impact possible in everything he does. He cares about doing what is right versus personal gain, and he tries to the best friend he can to everyone he meets.
Ben lives in a sleepy, small town about an hour and a half northeast of Chicago. He goes to a small Catholic school, and he loves to learn. At any given moment, he is trying to learn something new about himself and the world around him. Ben currently runs a charity called Bowing for Change, who’s mission—like his—is to spread compassion throughout the world. Be sure to check out his blog: Learning to Bow.
Editor: Dana Gornall