Almost exactly one year ago, I was preparing to start my freshman year of high school. In my head, I thought I had all these grand ideas about what it would be like, but in reality, I had no expectations whatsoever. I hadn't a single clue what I was getting into.

Looking back on it now, as I get ready to embark on the journey of my sophomore year, what I wish I had had was someone who could give me a truly accurate description of what my first year of high school would be like. Someone to take me by the hand, look into my eyes, and give me the unfiltered truth.

I realize now that there's not really anyone out there who can tell me exactly what my freshman year would have been like. No one could've told me about all the mornings I'd spend crying in the bathroom, all the times I'd be holding tears back during class for stupid reasons that would affect literally nobody else if they were dealing with them, all the all-nighters I'd pull trying to finish a project, or a reading assignment, because I was too lazy to get started on it the minute I got the assignment. No, no one could've told me about that.

But what they could've told me was how to make all that shit, and everything else I would come to face my freshman year, just a little bit easier. So, for my incoming high school freshman, here are twelve pieces of wisdom that I wish someone had given me before I started high school.

1 ~ You're going to lose friends. Friends you've known for years. Maybe there's be some big drama that causes it, but probably not. More likely is that you'll simply grow apart. Suddenly you're both heading in different directions, taking different classes, with different teachers and different people. Before you know it, you don't seem to have anything in common with the person who you once called your best friend. Soon, you never talk to them at school anymore. Then you never see each other outside of school. Then you stop texting, chatting, and just stop being friends altogether. Maybe you say "hi" every now and again when you pass each other in the hallways, or in the bathroom. Maybe not. Maybe it'll hurt that you forgot about each other. Maybe not. Whatever happens, however you feel about it, is perfectly okay.

2 ~ It's perfectly okay because you'll also make new friends! High school allows you to branch out and connect with a lot of people who enjoy the same things you do, whether it be sports, or academics, or a club, or a langauge. High school also really has a way of uniting people. Especially in the higher level classes, you develop a mutual understanding with your classmates that, even if you don't particularly know, or even like, each other, you have to stick together and support each other, or none of you will make it out. It's seemingly collectively understood that you're all going down together, so you should at least work together to make the fall a little softer.

3 ~ You're older now, and (at least in my case) you're going to start to notice your parents hitting on each other. Ignore it.

4 ~ Don't procrastinate. Seriously. I mean this with all my heart. Don't put things off until the last minute. I don't care how easy the work is, or how fast you can get it done. Finish it at the first possible opportunity. This way, you can take your time and do quality work. Remember that your grade reflects your effort. I know how stuck up and self-righteous that sounds, but it's true. Don't procrastinate, and do quality work. You will not regret it.

5 ~ You'll probably want to do some impulsive stuff, like cut your hair, or redo your entire wardrobe, or get a piercing. My advice in this case? Go for it. Embrace those crazy impulses. You're in a critical part of your life right now, figuring out who you are, who you want to be. And you'll never figure out who that is if you never change. So try things out. Try people out. Do what you want to. Dress like a slut. Pierce your nose. Join an a cappella group. Chop your hair off. Date. Don't date. If you're given an opportunity, take it. This is one of the only times in your life when you can take back things you did or said with little long-term consequences, so go for it while you still have a safety net of some sort.

6 ~ Ask. For. Help. If you need help, with anything at all, ask for it! I can't stress this enough! It's so important! Almost every question or problem you're dealing with has a solution, so don't be afraid to seek it out.

7 ~ Also, ask for what you want. The worst someone can say is "no," right? If you want extra credit, ask for extra credit. If you want to take someone out, ask them on a date. If you want to hang out with someone, ask them to come over. Seriously, just ask for what you want! It's okay to want things, and it's okay to ask for them, so go for it! (However, regarding asking for what you want: if you do ask for something, and the answer is no, don't push it. Be respectful. You may think that persistence is cute and endearing, but it's not, it's annoying, and creepy. No means no. Don't be an asshole.)

8 ~ Firsts are not as important as you think. More likely than not, your first kiss isn't going to be some grandiose, I-feel-literal-fireworks-when-our-mouths-touch event. Your first boyfriend definitely won't be as great as you may think he is at first. (In fact, after you break up you'll probably realize what a douche he was.) Your first day of school probably won't even be that monumental. Furthermore, the first time someone touches your boobs, or your butt, or your dick, or anywhere else, or the first time you touch someone else's boobs, or butt, or dick, or anywhere else, you'll probably think it's weird and wonder if you're doing it right, and if this is really how it's supposed to feel, and if this is supposed to feel good. That's normal. You're doing fine. It's not supposed to feel a specific way. It comes down to you, okay? Anyway, the moral is that firsts are actually kind of lame.

9 ~ Say no. If someone you're not interested in is hitting on you, shoot em down. Your comfort and safety is more important than their feelings. If someone is trying to make you do something you don't want to, or you're not comfortable with or you're not ready to do, say no! Say no say no say no! Fuck people who say that life is unfair and you have to do things you don't want to sometimes so suck it up. Fuck that! And fuck them! No one can fucking touch you unless you permit them to. No one is entitled to you, your time, or your belongings. If someone violates you, in any way, shape, or form, say NO. (And if that doesn't work, knock their fucking lights out.)

10 ~ Challenge yourself and take hard classes! Really! I'm eternally glad that I pushed myself last year and took difficult classes. It was a lot of work, but the payoff was phenomenal, I learned a ton, and it opened the door to way more possibilities for the rest of my high school career, and beyond! So take some difficult classes. You can never regret working hard, right?

11 ~ Join clubs. Don't worry about what people will think if you join art club, or swing club, or tech club, or any club. If you want to do, then do it! Or at least try it out. Really, you won't regret it. Along with joining clubs, do other things, too. Participate in school functions. Try out for school plays, or sports teams, or music groups. If you get in, great! If you don't, that's okay too! My freshman year I was cut from the cheerleading squad, and I didn't get a part in the school play. However, I joined the color guard, I became a staff reporter for the school newspaper, I was secretary of the French club, and I was invited to join the highest level music ensemble my school has offer, which usually isn't even an option for freshmen. So don't despair if one thing doesn't work out, because there are a million other opportunities waiting around the corner! Or, if it really means that much to you, go ahead and try again next year! You're just a freshman, you have your entire high school career to try and try again.

12 ~ You will have regrets. You're going to regret dating him, you're going to regret saying that, you're going to regret quitting this. Regrets are a part of life. Everyone has them. All we can do about it is try and move on.

So there you have it. If only I had been able to tell myself from one year ago all these things, my freshman year of high school would have been a whole lot better. So while I can't go back in time to tell fourteen-year-old me all this, I can tell you, and try and make your transition into high school as smooth and carefree as possible.

Have fun in high school!