By Kristen Daukas

I love back to school. I love buying supplies, I love picking out the first outfits and I love getting our routines back on track (or as on-track as they are with three busy kids). But this year threw me a new curveball – I was putting my oldest daughter into high school. To coin a very well-worn phrase, where does the time go? It was just a few breaths ago that I put her on the bus for the first time and this week she finished drivers-ed and in two weeks, she’ll turn 15 and I will take her to get her learners permit.

The transition to high school has been pretty smooth so far and I knew if it was wrecking my nerves, she was probably a little nervous too. So I came up with five things that I thought would help her and any other freshmen and their parents out there.

Five tips for High School:

Number One
Unless something goes really wonky, high school will be so much better than middle school. Middle school stinks for almost everyone. Combine hormones with the fact that you can’t put two coherent thoughts together to save your life and you’re got the equivalent of teenage spontaneous combustion.

Number Two

There will always be mean people who surround you. Now is the time to learn how to be bigger than them and move on. Don’t feed into their insecure attempts at bringing you down with them. Remember how I always said to “just ignore it”? Well, now you get to perfect that. Luckily, there are a lot of kids in high school so they’ll quickly move on to the next person to try their “charm” on. You’re going to have teachers that you don’t like as well. And guess what.. I love you dearly but not everyone is going to like you, either. It’s part of life. Don’t waste your time trying to win over people who don’t like you and don’t waste your time thinking that other people will change. There are over 7 billion people in the world.. believe me.. a few who don’t like you won’t change a thing or ruin your life.

Number Three

Dating will come into play now. But please do not think that you are going to hit your first day of high school and your first date at the same time. Let’s wait a while. I’ll write more about dating in another post, but above all else – stay true to yourself. I promise, you will be wowed and mesmerized by the upper classmen, but don’t even think about it.. it’s not happening.

Number Four

It’s show time. The past 8 years of school have led up to this very moment called high school. Now is when your grades COUNT. You need to buckle down and take it seriously. There are no “do-overs”. When you sit down in a couple of years to apply to colleges, yes.. they can and probably will look at your record all the way back to day 1 of the 9th grade. Do not mess this up. As trivial as it may seem, it’s critical to helping you get into a good college.

Number Five

You really CAN be whatever you want to be. Going to a new school is kind of like a clean slate. Sure there will be people who have known you a really long time, but there will be more who don’t. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something – and that includes yourself. Try new things. Play new sports. But whatever you do – give it your all. There is nothing wrong with being awesome. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty awesome being awesome. Go show the world how awesome I already know you are. You just need to believe in your awesome self. And if you don’t think you’re awesome, FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT!!

These next 4 years will be forever engraved in your mind. I hope that they are wonderful for you. I know they’ll be full changes as you begin the final preparations to go out on your own. I know that we’ll fight. I know that we’ll go thru some tough times. Just remember that this time is just as hard on me as it is on you. You see me as a burden.. I see you as one of the three most incredible things that I have ever done with my life. It’s hard for me and your Dad to know that our time with you is almost over.. at least in the context that we know it now. So if we get a little weepy or sentimental.. cut us some slack. Believe me.. we’ve cut you a lot over the past few years!

Kristen is currently serving her second term as the President of Professional Women in Winston-Salem; is a founding board member of The Queens Foundation as well as the The Joyful Life.  She is also the co-founder of Linking Winston-Salem and started Broads Who Tweet which brings together women in technology for fun and networking. She also startedFour Hens and A Rooster in 2004 (long before mom blogs and Facebook were even thought of) and just last year, launched Ten to Twenty Parenting – a resource for parents of tweens and teens.