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  • Shannon Brault

Lesson of The Last Four Years

Hello! I’ve written and rewritten this post what feels like a gazillion times, yet here I am rewriting it again. Life has been crazy busy lately and I am finally getting some time to sit down and write about high school as a whole. I finished classes on May 16th and graduated June 7th (how exciting!!). Since finishing my last high school final, I have tried to sit down and write a blog post about my experience in high school and what I have learned, but I have simply a. Not known what to say and b. Had absolutely ZERO time. SOOOO here we are now! I had told one of my friends that I would write her a letter of advice I have for her as she enters high school in the fall. Thinking back on the past four years it has felt like nothing has changed, while at the same time it feels like everything has changed (which it truly has). I went into high school in September of 2015. I had a super tough time in middle school and with high school being just around the corner, I was looking into different schools I could go to. I wasn’t really open to much in general, so I didn’t really give the evaluations of schools my full attention. I ended up just going to Richfield and found myself wishing I could change schools all the time. My mom says I have been over high school since before it even began, and I remember thinking about transferring schools so many times. I was always so scared to switch because Richfield was all I ever knew, and in a practical matter it was the school that made the most sense. I have later realized the likelihood of it being about the school is slim. I found myself comparing my life to my friends lives that didn’t go to my school and somehow always found the grass to be greener on the other side. I kind of just think of both Freshman and Sophomore year as washes. I was always wishing I was somewhere else, doing something else, spending time with someone else and wishing to be this person I wanted to be so badly. While I hold this to be true, I know I am not giving these years the full credit that they deserve. While it is really easy for the human brain to focus on negative aspects of life, I also know there is a whole heck of a lot of things that happened that made me into the person I am today. I don’t always believe that I am the person I need to be, or that my life is pretty great, but I know that there are so many things I have learned over the last four years that show the tremendous amount of growth I endured. Junior and Senior year were full of great accomplishments for me and I feel like I really became a person during this time; the world just began to make more sense. I saw things differently, I understood people, I could get a grasp on things happening in the world in a new sense… it was like I was seeing with a fresh set of eyes. Right before junior year is when I really began to focus my time and energy into skiing, which became my saving grace and I loved every second of it. I began CIS classes, I was so busy with a million different activities, I met so many of my closest friends, I began to take more risks and I began to focus on my happiness. My senior year I did full time PSEO at Normandale Community College, began treatment at the Emily Program (This and PSEO were arguably some of the best decisions I have ever made in my life), started this blog, worked with AR&LE as an adaptive bowling league specialist, became a WithAll volunteer, began to find my voice, made new friends, learned how to hard core Adult, and much more. I have had so many triumphs throughout high school such as All Conference for skiing (this was a HUGE deal for me), earning 16 athletic letters and 67+ awards and leadership positions, completing 500+ service hours, being named captain for different sports 4 times, getting a national scholarship through Comcast, getting nominated for the Athena Award, getting Most Dedicated soccer player once, Most Dedicated (workhorse) for Nordic twice, getting most dedicated for track once, and getting Spartan Spirit for Nordic twice. In high school I have been apart of 7 sports, National Honors Society, Student Government, Me to We, Just for Kix Dance, Young Life, Vakava Juniors and Loppet Cycle Works. I was also lucky enough to go on the Spanish trip to Merida, Mexico where I lived with a host family and I also went to Chicago for the CIS Physics trip. Junior year alone I had been to 9 states, and out of the country twice! Over the past four years I have learned a multitude of lessons, have had some great friends, have had some not so great friends, have had failed relationships, successes and failures. I’ve had the chance to learn and grow and really become a person. I was thinking about all the key elements of high school and how I could throw them together in a way that’s conducive to other peoples experiences. A lot happens in four years and a lot changes in four years. I find one of the most amazing ways to reflect on something is to look at the growth and the lessons learns, so with that being said here’s a list of just some of the more important lessons I’ve learned and wanted to share with my friend and with you all. All of these lessons are ones that I think we all need to be reminded of from time to time, regardless of age (they may seem cliche, but they are all so true, and so important). I wrote her a letter, and it goes a little something like this: TOP 11 LESSONS I HAVE LEARNED IN HIGH SCHOOL: 1. Fear is just another reason to try harder. Be brave, take risks. Be true to you and speak your truth. It is okay to be nervous, but being fearful just gets in the way of your life. I wasted a lot of really great opportunities early on because I chose to live in fear instead of pushing through the fear. It is crazy how many great things can happen when you take a deep breath and tell yourself to be brave. So here is me telling you to be brave. BE SO BRAVE. The best views come after the hardest climbs, and the greatest victories come after the hardest struggles. Life is short and taking risks is the best thing you can do. Everything in life can be a risk and if the chance you took ends up not working out, you can deal with it later. It is also incredibly important to be true to who you are and to speak your truth. Both of these things also take practice like any skill in life. Being true to yourself means being your uncensored, unapologetic you. If the people around you do not accept you for who you are, you are not with the right people. Live your life. Find your passions, and work really, really hard at them. That is the key to a happy and successful life. Do all that you can and try your hardest in everything you do. The pieces will fall as they may after that. Find your voice, and once you have found it, never, ever stop using it. 2. Help people whenever you can and do everything in your power to make the world a better place and your life brighter.  If you see an injustice, call it out. If someone is being picked on, stand up for them. If one of your friends is being mean to others, call them out. Know that sometimes you need to work on yourself. Sometimes you can’t do it all and sometimes you need to just go with the flow and see where life takes you. I ran into a lot of issues because I chose to help other people instead of helping myself. Now please note that taking time for yourself/ taking care of yourself is not selfish. Help others. Help your friends. Be the person you always needed. Volunteer often. Be there for people, but also know that sometimes you are not in a place to help others until you are able to help yourself first. There is a fine line between being helpful and being self destructive, and it is important to find your limits and know your limits. I also had a really hard time saying no to things, and that also got me into some trouble. I would try to fill up all my time in an effort to run away from myself and things in my life that were difficult to deal with. I wanted to do it all and I didn’t want to give up any opportunities, but that simply isn’t life. You are going to have so many amazing opportunities, but sometimes you have to let some of them go. Over scheduling yourself is definitely a thing and it can have a negative impact on you and others around you. Make sure to take time keeping a healthy relationship with yourself and remember that you can’t run away from yourself. 3. Life keeps moving and the best thing to do is to move with it. Change is good. Change is normal. You are going to change. Things are going to change. Life is going to change. Can you imagine what life would be like if nothing ever changed?? Change is hard and change can cause grief, sadness and loneliness at times. Just know that pain is normal, but suffering comes from our inability to let go of the old. I have had an incredibly hard time letting go of things. When you’re happy with something and then you lose it, it can really suck. I would wish, and wish, and wish for it back, but sometimes you are meant to lose things. Sometimes you need to get rid of old things, so you can make room for better things in the future. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the good and enjoy the bad. Know that neither the good, nor the bad lasts forever and when life tells you it is time to move on, you have to keep moving. Take a moment, and take it all in. Appreciate the time and the lesson, and be ready to embrace the next adventure. People are going to change. You’re going to change. Embrace the change. It’s scary, but you’re going to learn and grow in ways you cannot even imagine. 4. If you always do what you’ve always done, you will never get to where you want to be.  It’s okay to try something, reevaluate and change paths when you see that something isn’t working. That’s called courage. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Just like things change, sometimes your path in life changes and you cannot get to where you want to go unless you change the way you are doing things in the present. Listen to those gut feelings and don’t waste your time doing something you don’t love. Life is going to constantly throw decisions at you. You cannot run away from them. Sometimes you make a decision, just so you can make another one. When faced with two choices, pick the one that is going to make you the happiest. The rest will fall into place. 5. When people wrong you, it is a reflection on them, not on you. Not everyone is going to love you, get you, understand you or see your worth. People have different opinions, life experiences, backgrounds, etc. Find your people and the people that feel like sunshine. DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME ON PEOPLE WHO CAN’T SEE YOUR WORTH, or on people who make you feel small, insignificant and unimportant. Okay so this one is really important. People can be jerks sometimes (just check the news). Most of the time there is no reason for it at all, and sometimes it is simply them taking their anger out on other people. When people are mean to you, hurt your feelings, or make you feel unimportant, it is a reflection on them, how they feel about themselves and how they treat people, NOT a reflection on who you are. Remember that people can be mean, but you deserve nothing less than perfection and kindness. Avoid those who make you feel small and insignificant. You may feel pressured to act a certain way in order to “fit in” with certain people whose friendship seems like something you long for. There may be people who don’t treat you with the respect you deserve. There may be people that make you feel small and unimportant. Don’t let them win. Don’t waste your time. People are going to see what they want to see, and believe what they want to believe. Sometimes this means that they cannot see your worth, and that is okay. Never let someone else dictate your worth and how amazing you are. People will do as they please. Be yourself and don’t let people tell you otherwise. Find the people that do see your worth, and hold onto them. Find your soul happy people and remember that you can be your fiercest advocate. 6. If something is important enough to you, you make time for it. This one goes both ways. Life is uber busy, but you’ll find that you make time for the things that are important to you. If you find yourself thinking you are too busy for something, chances are it is not that important to you. Relationships can fade out, but if something is important enough to you, or someone else, you’ll make time for it. Whether it be a day, an hour or a few minutes. It might even be something you save for later. Whatever it is, you will find the time. 7. Comparison is the thief of joy. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. I have spent so much time comparing myself, my life, my opportunities, and my abilities to others and all it does it rob you of your joy. It is literally IMPOSSIBLE to be happy with where you are at in life if you are constantly thinking that what you have and/or what you do is less than someone else. I still struggle so much with this, but it holds true in every possible situation. There were so many things I could have been proud of myself for doing, but instead I would just compare them to other people and I turned it into a loss instead. The grass may always seem greener on the other side, but maybe you just aren’t watering your own. 8. Life is so beautiful when you open your eyes and let the beauty in. There is a light in every situation, no matter how dark it is. Read that again. 9. There is so much more to life than what people think of you, fitting in your jeans and the petty things. Be happy with yourself and work on yourself. I wish I would have done that sooner. We live in a crazy society that has us striving for impossible standards of living regarding body shape and lifestyle. It is so easy to get wrapped up in all that nonsense, but just remember there is soooooo much more to life than your clothing size. There is also a good chance you will enter into some drama in life. The petty stuff does not matter in the long run and while it may suck you in, just remember you can always get out. There are also going to be people in life that may not like you, or maybe you have some drama with them, but just remember that you are the only person that is going to be with you from start to finish in every situation in life. Work on your relationship with yourself and as long as you are happy with you, that is all that matters. 10. Sometimes you are the strongest when you make yourself vulnerable. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. THIS TOOK ME SO LONG TO LEARN AND I AM STILL LEARNING THE FULL CAPACITY OF THIS STATEMENT. Vulnerability is so scary and it is something that just like any other skill, it needs to be practiced. Now I don’t mean you have to share all your dark and deep secrets with the world, but I am saying that being open and honest about your feelings, emotions, situations, etc. WILL result in you living a happier life. We live in a society where it is normalized to hide what you are feeling, but if you are constantly hiding your feelings with the people around you, you will not gain the personal relationships, experiences and skills you could if you would just share. Be open and honest and tell people what is going on. DON’T BOTTLE THINGS UP. Let people know where you are at so you can be on the same page in your relationships and ask for help when you need it. It is crazy how much support you can gain in other people just by being upfront. It takes time to develop these skills. Just remember to keep working on them. Asking for help in life is so important whether it be for school, or for other things. Nothing worthwhile happens alone. 11. Try your hardest in everything you do. Set goals, but know that if you don’t reach those goals it’s okay!!! Be easy on yourself and forgive yourself when you fall short. Do everything you can in your power to get to where you want to be and know that THAT IS ENOUGH!! Some things just don’t work out. Most of the time your toughest critic is yourself. As long as you are trying your hardest and doing everything in your power to succeed, you should not get mad at yourself for “falling short”. Also remember that not winning, does not mean you aren’t winning in the ways that matter. Try everything you want to try, do everything you want to do, but also know that there are going to be things that you can try or do for whatever reason. Try to not have any regrets, but know that having no regrets in life is close to impossible. Sometimes you don’t have the ideal resources to get to where you want to be, but work with what you have. While I learned many more things than the ones listed above, I truly believe we all need to be reminded these things. I hope there are a few that you can relate to in some capacity and I hope they help you in whatever you are going through, or whatever you are going to go through in the future.


Thank you for reading, and thank you to everyone who has been apart of my life. Whether I talk to you everyday, or we have only met once, you have made an impact on my life and I am so thankful!

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