rebelling against low expectations

Don’t Do What I Did. I Wasted My High School Years.


Like many new high school students, I entered my first year very insecure about myself and virtually without any friends.

I went through my grade 9 and 10 years keeping to myself and simply trying to avoid being made fun of like I had been in elementary school. My withdrawal was so severe that I literally never stepped foot into our school’s cafeteria until I was already in grade 11!

I had grown up in a Christian home and my faith was important to me. But by the time my third year of high school came around, I was sick of being lonely and desperately wanted to fit in.

I discovered that year that I could get people’s attention by being the class clown. I was willing to do anything ridiculous so long as people would laugh and notice me.

As a result, I spent my grade 11 and 12 years gaining lots of friends and becoming more and more liked by my peers. I would do crazy stunts and pull pranks, going as far as hitting a teacher in the face with a cream pie during class!

Deep down, I knew what it really meant to follow Christ. I was not ashamed of my faith early in high school simply because I kept it to myself. No one even knew who I was, let alone that I was a believer. But when I started to become popular, I hid my faith from those around me, afraid that it would ruin my friendships and kill my increasing popularity.

When graduation passed and summer came, I quickly realized that all of the “friends” I had made over the last two years were really not my friends at all. They moved on to college or university, as did I, and I never spoke to most of them ever again.

It dawned on me that the only thing keeping us together was that they found my silliness amusing, but there was no real depth to our relationships. This became increasingly painful to me, since I had basically ditched all my former youth group friends when my popularity in high school began to surge.

What did I learn from all of this? Mainly, that I wasted my high school years. I missed the mark in two separate, but equally wrong, ways.

My first mistake early on was to simply retreat from the world around me.

Sure, I never really compromised my faith, but it also didn’t do much to change the way I lived. I was happy knowing that my sins were forgiven, but I didn’t care much that others around me were lost and without Christ. I simply pulled back into my own safe cocoon and let everyone else get on with their lives. How tragic!

Then, I went the complete opposite direction. My last years of high school, spent trying to accumulate friends and become popular, were wasted in that I did make connections with others but never bothered to bring my Christianity into the mix.

I was happy to still believe what I believed, but fitting in became far more important and the primary motivator for my actions. So while I managed to get outside my bubble of isolation, I didn’t make use of those friendships in any meaningful way.

In other words, my first mistake was isolation, and my second mistake was compromise.

I look back now on my high school years with deep regret. How I could have made such a difference! I did not realize at the time that everyone else around me was just as insecure as I was, and that simply being myself and letting my light shine would not have only been honoring to God, but would have actually earned the respect of some of my peers, who also wanted to be who they were but were simply to afraid to show it.

I have come to realize that the high school years are some of the most influential years in a person’s life.

It is a time when people discover who they are and who they want to be. If only I had been confident in my faith, and bold in my sharing of it, I could have really made a difference for the Kingdom!

My friends, take it from someone who has been where you are and looks back with regret. Don’t do what I did. Don’t retreat from relationships, but take a risk and put yourself out there. And don’t compromise your faith to fit in, but stand firm and let your light shine before others.

In doing so you will bring glory to God, find your deepest sense of joy, and make a difference in the lives of others.

Share Your Thoughts in the Comment Section!

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Photo courtesy of Eric Spiegal and Flickr Creative Commons.


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About the author

Jeremy Edgar

currently serves as a youth pastor in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. He married his wife Sarah in 2008 and together they have two children, a daughter named Bella and a son named James. Jeremy loves to read, write, share his faith with others, and play baseball.


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  • Yes! I think many of us need to be known for what we do for Christ more than what we don’t do that’s wrong or even worse, what we do that’s wrong.

    • Hey Trent! As believers we are defined mainly by what Christ did for us: we are redeemed, forgiven, adopted, and secure in our Father’s love. Thankfully that is our identity, not our shortcomings, as you’ve noted. The more we understand who we are in Christ, the more free we are to live for Him.

  • Thanks for the advice! It’s awesome God called you to be a youth pastor. Now you can help other teenagers from wasting their teenage years. It is incredible how God takes our regrets and mistakes and makes something beautiful!

    • You bet Mary, God takes our weaknesses and uses them for His glory. Thankful that He’s not done with me yet!

  • I think my biggest mistake of high school so far is failing to realizing that I’m not the only person with under-confidence and insecurities. I beat myself up about it all the time, to a point of isolation. For the longest time I thought there was something wrong with me because of it, that I was the only person who still hadn’t figured life out.

    I’m just starting to realize how wrong I was. That it’s a big problem for most people during this stage of life. It’s ironic that it’s not the big things but the simple misconceptions that often bring us down.

    People are often just as eager to feel accepted as you are. Once you have that feeling you worked so hard for, it’s hard to let it go. And when the funs all over and people move on, you’re not any better then when you started.

    The problem with all this is that were measuring ourselves by human standards. In other words, were putting our faith in humans, not God. If we stop comparing our flawed selves to everyone else and focus on what’s really important, than we wouldn’t need their approval. We’d have already received it from God. Which is much better than anything humans can offer.

    (sorry I kind of went on a tangent here)

    • Hey it was a good tangent! And yeah no one has life figured out no matter how much they seem to have it together!

        • Want to tell me about it? If you don’t, it’s cool, you don’t really know me. But I’m kinda the same way, so I thought maybe we could talk?

          • It’s not that it’s bad, but I guess I just really don’t know what to do for the future. Like for college or a job. I know god has big plans for me but I don’t really know what he wants me to do.

          • Ohh… yeah. How old are you? I’m sixteen. what people have told me is, I don’t have to have it figured out yet. Nobody does.

          • I’m 15, but in my opinion we should start asap. The sooner the better you know. I could be almost anything I want to be. But god wants me to be his man. Not my own. So I want to know what that is, that way I can start now.

          • You want to know how to be His man? Or is your question something different?

          • Well, that’s a hard question. I’d suggest that you look at what you’re good at, and see what professions use those skills. For example, my older brother is good at math and physics, so he’s now in the process of becoming an engineer. My other brother loved biology and stuff like that, so he studied wildlife biology and now works for the DNR.
            I don’t know if that’s any help…

          • Best way to get started is to serve where you are. That’s why you’re there. Sometimes that means looking for things to do to help develop skills and test possible things you miay like to pursue but sometimes it just means carrying on with school, working hard and being a faithful witness to those around you. It doesn’t sound exciting but everything you do now is preparation for later.
            If you want to be God’s man, carry on doing what you’re doing and do it faithfully. But at the same time, strive for godliness. Get to know God and his word and find yourself a good mentor 🙂
            Sorry to break in on the conversation :S

    • That is so true. Our identity is in our relationship with God, and not in measuring up to any flawed or fickle human standard.

  • This article was very challenging, because I’ve fallen into those traps myself. Thankfully, God’s truth can set us free.

    • Ain’t that the truth! It’s a fine line to walk, not in retreat and not in compromise, especially when you’re only 15 or so…but it can be done!

  • Wow. Thanks for sharing this, @disqus_wQ50dSV53y:disqus ! Once we make isolation and compromise a habit, it’s soooo hard to break. But God is so good, promising to help us if we call on Him!Thanks again for sharing your story. It was a blessing to me 🙂

  • That’s a great article, I tend to be pretty introverted (I’m working on that) and I already really regret my mistakes I made in school, I didn’t really work as hard as I should have and now it’s an issue I have to deal with every day. It does motivate me to work harder now though, I’ve been doing much better this school year than last year.

    • Hey Cece! I just wanted to say that I’m also introverted, and I don’t think that’s bad. Introversion is a legitimate personality type; don’t think that because you’re an introvert you need to change your personality.

      You can, though, use your introversion as an excuse, and that’s when you start having problems. The introversion itself isn’t a sin; excusing laziness, or deliberate isolation is. (Not that isolation itself is a sin either – all introverts need time out! I’m talking about constantly trying to get away from the world because you don’t like it.)

      I hope this is encouraging! And well done with becoming more motivated, I struggle with that too. 🙂

  • Thanks so much! I can see what happened.. I’ve had the same problem myself! First retreating.. and then when I grew out of it.
    I still have some problems with letting the light of God shine through my life; now I’m learning to not just tell, but also show others Who’s the Master of my life.
    Thanks for this encouraging article!! 🙂

  • Thanks for this, it’s a powerful reminder. I have been concerned lately that I’m drifting towards the shallower “fun relationships”, so this is perfect timing. I will think hard on this.

  • This is a REALLY good topic:) because there are a lot of people who say that the teen years, are supposed to be the years that you live care-free. But if we live by those standards one day we are going to look back and think “wow, I really wasted that time in my life”, and we will regret it!!! Why have we chosen to listen to the advice of those people, why can`t we be different and not just live for the moment, but think towards the future?

  • This is a great article it made me think about how I’m using my hs years, and I actually kind of started out on the same path as you – retreating and having few deep friendships, but not necessarily because I don’t WANT deep friendships they just never seem to work out. It’s frustrating but that doesn’t mean that I have an excuse not to shine a light at my school.

  • This is so helpful, as this is the summer before starting high school and I’ve been challenged a lot to think about what I want my HS years to look like. Last year there were a lot of times where my friends got into things that weren’t glorifying to the Lord and I went along with it because I didn’t want to lose those friendships. But then one day my friend and I realized that both of us didn’t like what was going on. If only we had stepped up earlier!!! That is going to be something to work on for me: not compromising.

  • I have been home schooled for the last five years but know am a freshman at our local public high school. I am having a hard enough time being gone from our house/family for the normal school hours without joining clubs or teams. I would like to make a few friends but don’t want to have to commit a ton of time to anything, as my mom is already very busy getting my brothers everywhere they need to go ( two of my three brothers have special needs, so there are lots of doctor appointments). Any advice?

  • Hi guys! I was just wondering, over in the US what age is middle school for and what is high school for??? Its quite different over here, with primary school for ages 5-11 and high school for ages 12-16.

  • Here in Brazil, religion has no space on schools, even in the Christian ones! It has been hard for me to share my faith, but since I started thinking about my last years on school, everything changed. We have to stop wasting this precious sharing years and have to bring light to our mates lives. This is the time for doing hard things!
    Thank you Jeremy for this great article!

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →