my high school english teacher was better than yours

What I Wish I’d Known Freshman Year (a.k.a. How to Survive Your First Year of High School)

I’ve been thinking about making this post for a while now and have gotten some asks about freshman year so without further ado, here it is. Freshman year considered the worst year of high school by most. You’re young, nervous, and stuck in this big new building with big and ‘scary’ upperclassmen and have probably heard all these rumors and stories about the teachers and how hard they are. It’s definitely a confusing time but fear not, it’s not as bad as it seems!

  • Grades matter but it’s not life and death. Grades are important. Most colleges only look at your GPA from grades 9-11 and possibly first semester senior year so you’re looking at freshman year grades being worth as much as 33% of the GPAs colleges see. That’s a lot. So please don’t take grades as a joke and not study/not take things seriously. You could jeopardize your college chances or make it really difficult to rebound. With that being said, it’s ok to get a B or two and to struggle a bit. You’re getting used to a new schedule and a new class rigor so some stumbling is to be expected. Just don’t dig yourself into a hole you won’t be able to get out of. Show up to class on time, do your homework, take notes, study hard for tests, and ask for help if you need it.
  • Be nice to your teachers. There’s this idea that if you get along with your teachers you’ll be ostracized as the teacher’s pet. That is not true (and anyone who thinks that has no idea what they’re saying). Being the “teacher’s pet” or nice to teachers isn’t a bad thing. See, freshman year teachers are stuck having classes full of squirrely and immature 14 year olds who make their life difficult. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one student in the class who was nice to them and appreciated what they do? If you’re nice to your teachers, they’re much more likely to be more lenient with you if you have some outside issues that affect your school work, they’ll be eager to help you, and you’ll do much better in the class. Most teachers are smart, kind, and interesting people that are definitely worth knowing. I can’t tell you how much it’s helped me during high school that I was friends with my French teacher from freshman year and my junior and senior year English teacher who helped me with my college apps and valedictorian speech. You’ll benefit more than you know.
  • Make a friend in every class. Because you’re just starting out, you most likely won’t know that many people. There’s nothing worse than the feeling of having to choose partners for a project or activity and you don’t know anybody. Thus, you should make an effort to get to know a person in each one of your classes. It’s a good way to make new friends and they’ll be super helpful if you miss a day and need to get the homework. I met one of my best friends freshman year in biology so who knows, you could meet your future best friends too.
  • Don’t be stupid. And by that, I mean don’t party hard, experiment with hard drugs (or any drugs for that matter), and don’t get drunk. You’re young and I know it seems cool to get drunk or stoned, but it can negatively affect your schoolwork, health, and social life. It’s not worth it. You’ll have time later to experiment and have fun but freshman year of high school is not a good time to do so. Let’s not mention the numerous legal consequences if you’re caught underage with drugs or alcohol and how detrimental they can be towards your future.
  • Get involved. I know you’re new and probably have no idea what you want to do with your life yet (and if you do, it will most likely change as you go through high school) but find activities both inside and outside of school that you think you’ll enjoy. Some ideas are sports teams, student council, volunteering, clubs etc. It’s not only starting to prepare your college resume (although you shouldn’t be worrying about college apps yet) but also helping you make new friends and discover what you’re really into. Don’t be afraid to join something for whatever reason. Chances are, everyone’s nervous because it’s freshman year and they don’t know anybody so you’re all in the same boat.
  • Be organized. This will help you all throughout high school and getting a system set freshman year will only work in your favor. First, get a planner or agenda. Write down all of your homework, tests, quizzes, and projects and when they’re due and any other events like club meetings or practices so you’ll know what your week looks like. It will prevent forgetting anything important and will help you manage your time. Also find a study system that will work for you. Experiment with different note taking and study methods until you find one that works for you. And finally, don’t eat the elephant a.k.a. don’t leave your homework for Sunday night. It’s not fun and you’ll tire yourself out. Be proactive and get things done early.
  • Make friends with the upperclassmen. They will help you more than you know. I know they look intimidating, but talk to them! Most of them are super nice and can help you get to know your high school better, give you gossip, and you’ll look super cool talking to your upperclassmen friends. Truthfully, up until junior year, I got a long better with the upperclassmen than kids my grade because they were more mature.
  • Relationships don’t matter. It sounds harsh but it’s true. You’re not going to be together with your freshman year significant other for a long period of time, you’re just not. You’ll both grow and mature and realize you want different things and breakup and that’s ok. Don’t take your relationships too seriously and make them your whole life because you’ll regret it. Instead, your dating life should be more about having fun than something serious and long lasting. 
  • Make an effort to participate in school spirit activities. It doesn’t have to be all of them or even most but you should attend some events. Try to make it out to a football game, go to homecoming, and attend spirit rallies or assemblies. I get that some of you don’t like them because they’re loud and can be boring, and that’s fine, but spirit events are a great way to bond with your class and get a feel for what high school really is. They make great memories and it would be awful to look back on high school senior year and realize you’ve never been to one school activity.
  • Mental health is super important. Please don’t ignore it because it affects every facet of your life. Talk to someone if you’re depressed, anxious, stressed, overworked etc. Get the help you need. Don’t hide your problems and think they’ll go away because they most likely won’t and you’ll suffer in your academics, social life, and overall health. You’ll naturally feel different all year because high school is a big transition and you’re getting used to everything but make an effort to reach out to friends, teachers, counselors, and parents to talk about how you’re feeling.

That turned out kind of long but I hope it was helpful. Let me know if you have any questions and good luck next year! 

X Japan's Sensational Vocalist Toshi

After a Devastating Decade, Toshi Soars Back to Take Center Stage

From Tokyo Journal 2015 Volume 35, Issue #276

TJ: Let me ask you from the beginning. How did you start X Japan with Yoshiki?
TOSHI: I met him in kindergarten 45 years ago when were only three or four years old. We first played music together when we were 10. That year, Yoshiki went to a KISS concert with his mother and his younger brother and as we were in the same class and I was a big fan of KISS, I asked him about the concert. Nobody else at that age was talking about rock music and that’s when we started to become close friends. At the time, I could play acoustic guitar. I wanted to learn how to play electric guitar and Yoshiki had one as well as a drum set. So, we would go to his house and practice KISS covers with Yoshiki on the drums and me on guitar. We weren’t a band yet, but that’s how we started playing music.

TJ: When did the band start?
TOSHI: We went to the same kindergarten, elementary and junior high school. When we were 12 or 13 years old, we found a couple of classmates that could play guitar and bass. Our first live performance was at a graduation party.

TJ: Did you sing from the beginning?
TOSHI: At that time, I was playing guitar and my friend was the vocalist. When we were 15, I started singing when our junior high school split into two schools. Most of the band went to the new school, but the vocalist stayed in the old one. We lost our vocalist so we auditioned our remaining band members. Both Yoshiki and I sang, but of course, I was better than Yoshiki, so I became the vocalist (laughs).

TJ: How did you learn your English? Have you lived abroad?
TOSHI: I lived in Los Angeles for three years from 1993 to 1997. I learned a little English during that time and I had a pronunciation teacher when we were recording. My teacher was Larry Moss. He taught many famous actors and actresses and he taught Yoshiki as well. He was a very good teacher.

TJ: What is the hardest part of being a professional vocalist?
TOSHI: Maintaining the condition of my voice, body and mind so that I am always at my best for every performance. It’s very important to me. I’m careful about what I eat. Every morning I eat natto [fermented soybeans] mixed with onion. I also drink fresh juice I make myself from organic apples and carrots with a slow juicer every morning. I drink it to build resistance to sickness and to keep my body in good condition. I’ve been doing this everyday for over a year. I had a very hard time both mentally and physically when I got ill. I realized I needed to change my eating style, and after I did that, I’ve been in very good shape ever since. Also, I recently started sadou [tea-ceremony]. I wanted to study Japanese history and culture and sadou is good for concentrating and learning Japanese tradition, history and manners. Although I can only do it every now and then, it really helps me mentally when I can practice sadou.

TJ: So the past year was a good one for you?
TOSHI: Yes. I also published a book about my life. The book is called Brainwashed. By exposing my past, my mind became very clear and I could draw a line between the past and present. I was able to start a new life. By telling everyone including our fans about my past through the book, everything became clear and I’ve been able to see the path to follow. So, I’m doing very well now.

TJ: How about your solo career? How’s your solo career going?
TOSHI: I just finished a three-day event a couple of days ago. Ever since I released my book, I’ve also been on various TV shows as my book became big news in Japan this year. I’ve been interviewed on various TV shows, variety programs and year-end specials. I’ve been doing a lot more things than I have in the past. I did a solo rock concert and I also did a concert at a classical venue. I’ve become more active after I released the book and I have been feeling dynamic energy building inside me. In 2015, I’m looking forward to putting this dynamic energy towards both X Japan and solo projects.

TJ: What do you like about being a member of X Japan?
TOSHI: Yoshiki and I have been in X Japan for such a long time and we’re still here now after so many experiences and difficulties. I feel like we’ve grown up together with many of our fans. They’ve always supported us with great passion no matter what happened. I’ve always been very impressed by that. It’s a miracle. I love X Japan’s great fans and the sincerity of its members.

TJ: Tell me about the difference between X Japan of the past and the X Japan of today.
TOSHI: Since we were young at the beginning, we just went for it headfirst. We were driven by the power of our youth, but it’s been 20 or 30 years now and we’ve grown up. Many years have passed, but our passion has gotten only stronger.

TJ: What is the most challenging part of being a member of X Japan?
TOSHI: Keeping my voice in good condition, so that I can sing the music that Yoshiki or other members make, and living up to their expectations.

TJ: Can you tell me a little bit about your guitarist PATA?
TOSHI: Whenever I see PATA, I feel at ease. He creates a relaxing atmosphere for X Japan. He’s the most interesting one.

TJ: OK, and how about HEATH?
TOSHI: HEATH is cool. His bass playing is very cool, and he’s like my younger brother. He’s the cute one.

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