High school can be really stressful -- to say the least. Our weekly "Hey, It's OK!" series is here to remind you of all things you SHOULDN'T be worried about, no matter who tells you otherwise!
The "high school experience" is one of the most storied of all life milestones, and it comes with a massive set of expectations and myths about what it means to be a teenager. From watching teen-centric movies and TV shows, listening to Taylor Swift songs, and hearing stories of high school glory days from older friends and relatives, most of us go into freshman year with a set of pre-conceived notions about what high school should be like.
The truth us, like most things in life, high school was probably nothing like you imagined it would be (or for you incoming freshman, won't look anything like your favorite TV show said it would) -- and that's okay. Here are five common "high school letdowns," and why you shouldn't actually feel let down by them, at all.
1. It May Not Be Easy To Adjust Right Away
Adjusting to high school life is a big change and it's not something that necessarily happens overnight -- or maybe even during your freshman year at all. You have a whole new set of people, teachers and social situations to deal with, and it's totally normal for it to take a while to feel comfortable. So even if high school takes a longer time to "click" than you thought it would, try to remember that every day, you're learning how to break out of your comfort zone -- and that experience is going to help you for the rest of your life. (And also, that every other freshman is just as scared as you!)
2. You May Not Find The Perfect Group Of Friends
Another often-misportrayed part of the high school experience is the idea that once you get there, everyone breaks off into super tight-knit groups and cliques that they stick with until graduation. But for many of us, it just doesn't work that way. You may go through many groups of friends or choose to stick with just a few close buddies the whole way through. You also may not find the "right" group of friends until you get to college, and that's cool, too. There are a lot of different ways to have fun and make strong connections in high school, and they don't all require having your own personal entourage.
3. Your Grades May Drop
You may have been a star in school all the way up until ninth grade, only to find that you're suddenly struggling to get B's. With all the social, emotional and academic challenges that come with adjusting to high school life, it's normal for your grades to take a bit of a dip when you hit freshman year. Before you start freaking out about never getting into college, keep in mind that most admissions officers look for a track record of improvement, not just a flawless GPA. If you're still struggling to manage your workload or keep up in certain classes, talk to your teachers and meet with a counselor to get help with time management and prioritizing your assignments.
4. You May Not Find A Siggo -- And Your Friends May Not Either
Teen movies like to make it look like everyone finds their first love in high school and has a fairy-tale prom night. But in reality, it just doesn't work that way. Along with a good chunk of your classmates, you may not have your first relationship until college or later. High school is a great time to focus on your own interests and your friendships, rather than worrying about finding "the one." Trust us, dating in high school is overrated -- and having a serious boyfriend or girlfriend is by no means something you "should" have by the time you graduate.
5. You May Not Figure Out Your Future By Graduation Day
At a time when college tuition costs are steadily rising and unemployment is high among recent grads, it's easy to take on huge amounts of stress about the future. But that doesn't mean you have to have your whole life and career figured out by the time they hand you your diploma. There are as many different routes to success as there are definitions of what it means to be successful, and it can take time to figure out what exactly you want and how you're going to get there. Finding your passion is the work of a lifetime -- and as a teenager, your job is only to explore, discover, and follow whatever makes you feel excited and energized. If you do that, you'll get there one day. Promise.
Tell us: What are your "expectations" for high school? And if you're already a high schooler, what was the most surprising thing about being a freshman? Tell us in the comments below or tweet @HuffPostTeen.
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