1. Find your tribe.
I know, I know. I’ve been banging on about this for about a decade but frankly it feels truer now than ever. There is not much you can control in your life when you’re a tween or a teen. But the one thing – and possibly the MOST IMPORTANT thing – which you *can* control is WHO YOU CHOOSE TO HANG AROUND. Find your tribe. Your tribe are those people who get you. Who share your core values. They like you for who you are and they’ve got your back.
These are the friends who are loyal and kind and you feel good about yourself when you’re with them. Any fights or spats you have with them are minor and it’s only good natured teasing that occurs (any really mean teasing is unintentional and true friends will apologise). If you’re spending your time hanging out with girls (or boys) who routinely put you down, make fun of you and humiliate you then MOONWALK OUT OF THERE, SISTER! Most importantly true friends bring out your best. If you don’t like who you are and how you behave when you’re with your current friends, that’s a big red flag.
Now you might have a tribe of five friends – terrific! But all you need is one true friend whom you can trust.
Keep in mind that sometimes it takes a while to find a person from your tribe. Sometimes you’re a bad fit for the school you’re in. Hang in there. Seek out friends outside of school who ‘get you’. Bide your time. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with YOU just because you haven’t found that great friend just yet.
BONUS ADVICE: If your goal is to be happy in high school (and that’s every student’s goal, isn’t it?) keep in mind that research tells us that the biggest driver of happiness is time spent IN PERSON with authentic friends (someone from your tribe!). No amount of texting, Skype messaging or Whatsapping comes close to being in person with your favourite friend where you feel safe to vent and be your true, daggy self. Keep that in mind throughout your life and always prioritise in person catch ups.
LISTEN: We speak to a teacher about everything they want parents to know, on our podcast for imperfect parents. Post continues after audio.
2. Understand the destructive nature of gossip and work out who to vent to.
High schools run on gossip. Stories. Rumours. Whispers. And according to Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees And Wannabes: Helping your daughter survive cliques, gossip, boyfriends and the new realities of girl world, girls in upper primary school and high school see gossip as a way to bond. BUT it’s also how they wage war on each other and humiliate each other.
Nearly every teenage girl (and every woman) gossips to some degree but let’s be clear – gossip is the source of pretty much all high school drama and bullying. The more you engage in destructive gossip, the more you get involved in spreading rumours about other students, the more tumultuous your high school days will be. Information is power in high school – I get it. But it comes at a cost. And that cost can be extraordinarily high when that gossip forms part of a full-scale bullying campaign designed to isolate and embarrass someone. Lives can be destroyed especially when rumour-spreading happens online.