From a Teen’s Perspective: Back to school reflections

by Dylan Lanier on August 16, 2023

Congratulations and deep condolences to all my fellow students returning to school this week. I hope your summer was full of exciting adventures and much-needed relaxation.

The start of the school year can be hectic, so it’s important to set concrete goals, whether it’s getting straight A’s or meeting new people. Here are my  tips for staying grounded throughout the busy year:

1. Take leaps: High school is a unique period of time where we are allowed to fail and learn from our mistakes. It’s important to be mindful and diligent about the things that matter to you, but it’s also important to take risks that push you outside of your comfort zone. “I always did something I was a little not ready to do,” said former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. “I think that’s how you grow.” Personally, I challenge myself each day to do one thing that makes me uncomfortable, like spending an extra 20 minutes studying or taking a spider out of my room.

2. Advocate for yourself: We are not meant to go through life alone. If you are experiencing trouble with school, sports, relationships, or any other aspect of your life, reach out to the people who care about you and get the right support. We will always face obstacles, but half the battle to overcome them is allowing yourself to be vulnerable and lean on others.

3. Balance your perspective: The past is a powerful teacher, the future is a persuasive motivator, and the present is where it all goes down. It’s beneficial to consider all three in your daily life, but don’t overindex on particular ones. We should spend similar amounts of time learning from our past, building our future, and living in the moment.

4. Check yourself: Life is about constant adjustment. Stay present and reflect on what’s going well and what’s not. Don’t be so blinded by pride, self-doubt, or any other emotion that you ignore logic and reason. Get in touch with your inner self and notice any struggles, be it a lack of motivation or anxiety about a class, as well as the parts of your life you feel positive about.

5. Focus up: Your time and energy is sacred. Don’t waste it on projects that provide no value. If you feel like certain pursuits are fruitless, re-direct your abilities towards another goal. You only get one life, so spend it doing things you care about.

6. Confidence is everything: This is what I consider the greatest tip. Confidence is a powerful force that is often used too little or too much. Presenting yourself with self-assurance and grace increases your chances of success simply by displaying your own faith in your character and abilities. We all know those people who seem to sit upon a humble throne of gold — they aren’t flashy or rude, but they know their worth. Even if you don’t feel confident, act like it. The world is your oyster when you believe you’re capable of anything you set your mind to.

I wish my readers a fabulous end to the summer and an amazing school year. Use these tips however they help, and I know you’re going to crush it!

Got any topics you want me to cover? Email with your request!

Dylan Lanier is a rising senior at Menlo-Atherton High School.

InMenlo file photo by Betsy Sergeant Snow (c) 2014

One Comment

Ariane August 21, 2023 at 3:51 pm

Hey Dylan,
I’m handing out a big W for not just the quality of writing, but also the sagacity of your tips.

And… I have two questions for you, if you’d be willing:
1. Do you consider yourself creative? If yes, why? If no, why not?

2. What’s your definition of creativity?

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