High School Bucket List


Kyla Wells, Reporter, Editor

As humans, we’re constantly living in the future, anticipating and preparing for what may or may not happen. Although it’s not bad to create expectations and look forward to things, it hinders us from genuinely living in the moment and appreciating the full extent of the time we have. The summer going into my senior year, I was struck with somewhat of a dilemma. The reality that I had only 12 more months to live in my hometown and make memories with childhood friends made my stomach churn. But amid the churning, was a pinch of excitement about my future- the unknown, a place where my wildest thoughts are possible. The quandary shooting back and forth in my head was “Should I be excited about college and fantasize the whole ideal? Or cherish what I currently have, before I’m no longer part of it?” My answer came after remembering a conversation with my brother Keaton, who graduated from Woodland Park High School in 2013. When talking about his teenage years, he said, “I wish I would’ve appreciated the time I had in high school before I went into the workforce full time. I always had a blast hanging out with friends and I had very few responsibilities. It was a simpler time.” I suddenly felt the need to view everything as if it were a once in a lifetime opportunity… soaking in every fleeting moment, saying “yes” to more than I previously would’ve. I came to truly understand that our teenage years, supposedly the best of our lives, are temporary and go by in the blink of an eye. Moving to the next phase in your life should be thrilling- maybe a little frightening- but shouldn’t be met with regret because you didn’t take advantage of your high school years. Here are 11 things every student should do before graduating from high school. 

1. Find comfort in being alone.

– You’re the only person you have for your whole lifetime… that’s a fact. No one else in your life is definite, not even your parents. That’s why it’s so important to become comfortable in solitude. Even the busy bees, the extroverted bunch, can benefit and uncover many realizations from being alone and allowing time for self-reflection. 

2. Reconnect/ reminisce with elementary school friends. 

-At the end of a chapter in a book, you might go back and scan your favorite parts again, or reread the important lines to gain more understanding before you move on. The same should be true for moving onto a new chapter in life. Reach out to old friends, even if you don’t have their new “Snapchat” username. Reminisce on simpler times and thank those people for sharing those moments with you. You’ll not only gain appreciation but closure.

3. Get a part-time job.

-Not only can teenagers manage to have a little extra cash, but getting a part-time job is a great way to meet new people outside of school, gain real-life experience, and enhance your social skills. Having a job also increases your sense of productivity/ accomplishment and independence.

4. Become a leader in something…anything.

– Think about things you’re passionate about and changes you want to see happen. After you’ve narrowed down what you want to put your time and effort into, find a way to step up and get in the driver’s seat. Become a leader in a school club or your church and instead of just talking, act on your bright ideas. Inspire those around you and unlock a skillset you didn’t know you had. 

5. Go all out for Homecoming week!

-Whether it’s participating in dress-up days, going to the school dance, or painting business’s windows around town, there is SO much fun to be had during Homecoming week if you muster up some school spirit. One of my top memories throughout high school has been when my graduating class unites in excitement at the homecoming pep-rally, determined to win the spirit stick at the end of the week. There’s no better feeling than shouting your head off while you’re hoisted on a friend’s back watching confetti rain down from the air. Actually, there is one better feeling; finally winning the spirit stick.

6. Make friends with a teacher. 

– School is hard, let alone life. Building a solid, friendly relationship with a teacher during high school will allow you to always have someone to go to. Whether you don’t want to eat alone in the hallway for lunch, or you want someone to share some cool news with, the right teacher will have your back and can make those dreadful school days not so grim. 

7. Participate in a sport or activity you’ve never tried. 

– If I learned anything during high school, it’s how important it is to step out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there! Many people don’t come to terms with this until multiple opportunities have passed them by, but it’s never too late to come out of your “shell”. Trying something new, even if it’s not a school sport or activity, makes us much more well-rounded and can strengthen our ability to persevere. If you’re not interested in trying something new for those reasons, simply do it to meet new people and fill up your spare time that’s most-likely spent watching Netflix. 

8. Embrace your creative side.

-I’ve heard people say “I’m just not creative” too many times to count. I think that’s bologna, to put it nicely. Creativity doesn’t have to be drawing in a sketchbook, it can be editing cool pictures on VSCO, redecorating your room, customizing an old pair of shoes, or anything that engages your right brain (the part responsible for creativity and imagination). It’s so important to regularly include both sides of brain activity in your lifestyle. Creativity (art, music, dancing, etc.) is also a great way to express your emotions and can introduce you to others who share similar likes and that have the potential to inspire you further. 

9. Hang out with friends… a lot.

-As students, we’re living through basically the same things. Particular scenarios may differ, but we all struggle with homework, don’t get enough sleep and want to find people who understand us as an individual. Finding peers to truly connect with and grow from, is a blessing and can be one of the greatest joys of life. Even if you only find one or two people in an entire school that you get along with, they have the power to make your high school years worth reliving. My brother Keaton spoke with me about the highlight of his school experience, which he “…wishes he could go back to. High school was a lot of fun, I hung out with my friends as much as possible. I wish I would’ve done a little better on the academic side, but I wouldn’t give up the memories I made with my friends.”

“The Four Agreements” is a Toltec book of wisdom. It’s intended to bring self-help and personal growth. The author, Miguel Ruiz, wrote it to enlighten people about four principles that everyone can practice to promote joy and wipe away unnecessary suffering. The next two items on the bucket list are inspired by the 3rd and 4th agreements from Ruiz’s book: don’t make assumptions and always do your best. 

10.  Don’t make assumptions on social media!

-By making assumptions about other people based on their online presence, you’re creating a slightly inaccurate and false image of them. Ruiz believes that “We create a lot of emotional poison just by making assumptions and taking it personally, because usually we start gossiping about our assumptions” (Ruiz 64). In addition to hearsay, making assumptions about how flawless an influencer’s life is on social media also often leads to us comparing ourselves to unrealistic standards, introducing copious amounts of self-doubt and even resentment. Life is much too short to spend all your precious time conforming to what models, athletes, and other renowned people portray online. 

11. Just do your best. 

-It’s not expected that your best work is the same from one moment to the next. Each day presents new opportunities and obstacles that can either propel you to do spectacular things or can make you want to turn off the lights and crawl in bed. When explaining the fourth agreement, always do your best, Ruiz writes “Just do your best- in any circumstance in your life. It doesn’t matter if you are sick or tired, if you always do your best there is no way you can judge yourself. And if you don’t judge yourself there is no way you are going to suffer from guilt, blame, and self-punishment. By always doing your best, you will break a big spell that you have been under” (Ruiz 77). This applies to all aspects of life; whether it’s playing a sport, going to school/ work, or maintaining relationships, always be the greatest you’re capable of being in a given situation.

Picture Credit: Andrew Graber