I graduated from high school in 2008 from a town in the middle of nowhere. It’s one of those places where everyone knows everyone. It was especially true at my school. I was one of those people who got along with the jocks and the geeks but was classified as neither. We all learn a lot about ourselves during those four years, and here are my lessons learned from mine.

A Lesson from My Car
To set the scene, I drove a full-size “creeper” van to school every day. A 1990 Ford Econoline was my first car, and it had shag carpet covering the inside, missing an exhaust system and was a great means of transportation for a high school student.

Driving that van taught me you may be judged by what you drive, but allow that to be what makes you stand out in a crowd—or at least a parking lot. Your unique features make you interesting, so embrace them!

A Lesson from Study Hall
I often spent my study halls in our graphic arts classrooms and the art room. I was always in front of a computer working on a Photoshop mash-up or busy with an illustration. Plus, music was always on for inspiration.

The freedom I was given by escaping study halls not only helped me advance my design skills, it helped me shape my career. Taking time for yourself to do the things you love is so important. If you get to make a profession out of it—well, that’s even better.

A Lesson from “Growing” Retro
Lastly, it is never too late to grow retro. Yes, you read that correctly: grow. Like most students, I had the worst case of senioritis. I took the path less traveled and grew my hair out from the beginning of my senior year until graduation. In those 10 months, my hair towered above my fellow classmates, and I often had to sit in the back of the class due to visibility issues for those behind me. Sadly, when the school year came to an end, my afro had to go.

It may not sound like it, but growing my hair out was a good idea (at the time). I’m now memorialized in my class portrait as someone who stands out in a crowd. Don’t be afraid to attempt something others think is a bit weird. Learn to express yourself, responsibly of course, and you’ll be happy you did.

Our high school years are some of the most memorable and impressionable years of our lives. As an individual, we grow to learn who we are by self-expression and exploring our interests. My senior year may have made me look a bit weird, but I can look back and say I enjoyed every minute of it.

What did you learn from your high school years?

This post is bittersweet because it’s my last post on The Microbrew. Because I’m now a full-time employee at AKHIA, I’m moving on up to The Brew. I’m looking forward to seeing where our next group of interns takes it!