1.) There were more options for post secondary than what were provided to me
In high school, I really felt like University was my only option and that I had to go immediately. In Grade 12, they don’t ask what you are planning to do after graduating, they ask what University you are applying to. I think this generally makes students feel rushed and jump at whatever they”think” will be a great fit for them based on no real information. Without taking the extra time to explore ourselves and our interests, we have students switching programs half way through undergrad, or even dropping out. The education system makes money on hasty students figuring themselves out. Switch a program half way through? That’s a couple years extra tuition they get from you, they don’t mind of course, but you should. Advice I would give to my 17 year old self would be; take more time reflecting with only yourself (no one else’s opinions), consider college programs and network lots. Talk to people who are going to give you honest information. Taking an extra year to save money or go see some new places should be considered just as great of an option as choosing a post secondary institution.
2.) Credit cards don’t spend themselves
There is this big negative aura around credit cards. I got my first one in first year university and was warned by many to be careful, as if these cards are some magical thing that give you immediate heaping amounts of debt. Not the way it works…I’ve had my credit cards now for almost 5 years with substantial limits and have never owed anything on them. The concept is simple. You spend anything, you pay it back the next month, no interest accumulated, no debt. Credit card debt happens when you spend money you don’t have now or more likely money you know you won’t have a month from the day you use it. There have been times I have relied on my credit card with limited funds in the bank, but knew I would be able to pay it off by the end of the month. Credit cards help you build up credit and are perfect for instances where you need to borrow a small amount of money to get by. To my 17 year old self, don’t be scared of them and don’t wait to get one. If you are responsible enough to plan ahead, you don’t need to worry about accumulating unmanageable amounts of debt.
3.) If you try a drug once, you don’t instantaneously become an addict
In school I think the general idea that was portrayed was that if you tried marijuana once, you would become a crack addict. If you smoke a cigarette once, you would be addicted for the rest of your life and your health would be instantly ruined. This is definitely not the case. Keeping in mind, that some people do have addictive personalities, but many also do not. I’ve met lots of people that participate in recreational drug use and are not addicted. I’m not advocating drug use, there are dangerous aspects to them but I think that what we were shown in school, wasn’t the most accurate depiction of how it really works in real life. I have also experienced people who have used psychedelics, and they are quite normal (something I didn’t expect at 17 about “people who dropped acid”), they often offer some different new perspectives about our world that they were only able to experience through a trip. An interesting quote I found while writing this blog;
“Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing.” Vice2017
I didn’t hear any of these conspiracies in high school, did you?
So my advice to myself, people who have tried a drug once or twice are not lesser than you because you haven’t and they aren’t necessarily addicted to that drug now. Don’t fear the world because of what you were shown or told.
4.) Sex isn’t perfect, orgasms aren’t automatic and having sex frequently doesn’t make you a harlot
I think we’ve all heard it; sex isn’t like what we see in the movies or what we see in porn. We’ve heard it, but did we really understand what it meant? It’s difficult because if all you know about sex are these images that you have come across growing up, then you might not really know anything about it. When we think of sex, we tend to automatically think of man and woman and penetration, but this couldn’t be further away from what sex is. I came across a Buzzfeed video “Lesbians Explain Sex to Straight People” and there were some words that stuck with me; see the full video below.
“Sex is so much about the feeling you’re having and how you express that with a partner, so the thought that sex is just man, woman and penetration is actually really limiting… for anybody. Lesbian sex is not a goal oriented activity, like sex shouldn’t be generally. Sex is about fun and connection. You’re always told to have a goal, like you have to get somewhere in order to succeed. You succeed once you get into the bedroom and you find somebody that you like to hang out with and make feel good. That’s the point of lesbian sex and that should be the point of anybody’s sex.” -Sex Nerd Sanda from Buzzfeed
Sandra is explaining exactly what we don’t consider about sex. Whether its man and woman or not, sex should all be about the same thing. In high school, I had no concept of this. We spend so much of our mental energy trying to have these “perfect sexual interactions” because we don’t know any better. My advice to myself, don’t worry so much. It takes time to figure out what feels good to you, not what you thought was supposed to feel good for you. Sex isn’t clean, bodily fluids are involved and if you’re both having sex together for the right reasons you should be completely relaxed and focused on what feels good for both. Sex has nothing to do with how well you think it aligns with what the media has portrayed to you.
Before I conclude this point, if you are someone that enjoys sex, you shouldn’t be ashamed by that. I think in high school, there is a lot of name calling and a derogatory image put behind women that like to have sex. So long as you are protecting your sexual health, sex is healthy and if you’ve found “someone(s) that you like to hang out with and make feel good” you are not a harlot because of it. It is my personal belief that this is an old restricted way of thinking.
5.) Debt is real and the amount you have does matter
I used to have this mentality that debt is inevitable and the amount doesn’t matter. I believed I was going to have mountains of it no matter what I did. Well, this is not a good mentality. This way of thinking is similar to having a flat tire and then slashing the other three. For example, just because you have student debt, doesn’t mean that you should go finance a brand new car. The amount of debt you have does matter, it takes a long time to pay off when there is interest involved even if it’s only a small amount. My advice; pick the school where you can commute from home to, buy a $5000 car don’t finance a $23,000.00 one, buy used textbooks and stay away from phone plans.
From my own experience, I am still paying my student loans from one year of school 3 years ago, this loan is 50% living costs because I lived away from home. My car is in great shape, but I also owe at least 3x what I could sell it for and full coverage insurance is mandatory on it due to it being a financed vehicle…. this means when I go away to travel I have to keep insurance on my car and still make my monthly loan payments. Debt can tie you down and that may seem okay to a 17 year old but it might not to a 20 or 30 year old that never got to go and do the things they always wanted to before “life”started.
When you have debt, you are anything but free and even if your debts are manageable they will still always hang over your head. Had I have known the true feeling of being tied down to debt payments for years after leaving school I might have thought a little harder about handing over $18,0000 of borrowed money to an educational institute that wasn’t guaranteed to work out. This is made to seem like a normal practice… but if you ask me it’s pretty messed up to spend thousands for an education and literally spend the rest of your life paying it off. Just would have been nice to take a few seconds (years even) to think about such a big financial move.
Although I was little naive about these five things as a seventeen year old, I am happy that I can reflect back now and be able to share with all of you.
Thanks for stopping in and until next time,