In honor of our tenth ‘Role Call‘ interview, a blog section featuring professional young women occupying diverse careers (and their advice to teens!), here is your chance to take a look back at the growing list of career role models who made the cut – and importantly, a recap of the life advice they wish they had received in high school.
Looking back, what general life advice would you give to your former high-school self?
Academia: “Chill out. I went to a super high stress high school, where I often joke everyone had to be the “Best ____” and that blank could be filled a million ways, English student, squash player, troublemaker, whatever (I was none of those). I think the times that I have struggled in my life are when some things were going awry, but I didn’t want anyone to know, so I refused to reach out for help. I’m still not great at that, and I think learning how to ask for help is a behavior/habit that we should develop earlier in our lives. Asking for help doesn’t mean that you are weak or dumb or less than, it just means you are strong and you want to improve.”
-Bernadette Doykos, Research Associate
Architecture: “Identify what you’re passionate about and don’t spend time doing something that you’re not truly interested in. It seems young girls are too often overcommitted these days.”
-Lauren Thomsen, Architect
Education: “Everything you need for a good life, the best life, is already inside of you. You don’t have to spend so much time looking around getting validation from the outside. We are always changing and evolving; this doesn’t mean that it is painless and perfect. But in the end you will be where you need to be.”
-Yom Odamtten Fox, World History Teacher and Global Initiatives Director
Health Care: “I would have told myself to relax and to allow myself to be who I was. I was a huge weirdo and ball of emotions, and looking back, it was totally normal. And even now after high school, the “cool” people aren’t that cool. At. All. They were just as insecure as you were.”
-Melissa Ayala, Physician Assistant
Illustration: “Hey high school self, get your SH*T together! Pay attention! Try! Oh, the things you learn later on in life. I was lucky to have amazing human beings as teachers. Literally. They cared not only about my education, but about me as an individual. I was an athlete, so I cared a lot about soccer, track, and figure skating. I also think that I focused on my relationships with people too much as opposed to how much I was learning. So maybe I’d change that. I left high school stoked on life though, so I’m pretty happy with the outcome.”
-Priscilla Witte, Illustrator
Law: “Oh god. Things are both as important and less important than you perceive them to be now. On the one hand, you’ll never forget the friends and relationships you have now. The intense, day-to-day closeness you have with your friends now will never be the same, at least after college. I love my life, but, when you’re married with children, this just doesn’t exist. On the other hand, this is just a small sliver of your life. If you’re not happy now, try and have patience. High school is a fish bowl, and is so intense because you have to see the same people and do the same things, day in and day out. This makes it so that, if [Jason] doesn’t say hi to you in the hall, it’s absolutely devastating. Life is not like this, and you will (probably – I’m a lawyer!) become happier and less dramatic after a while.”
-Erika Payne, Legal Director
Public Health: “Just enjoy your time in high school! Try all of the sports, clubs or hobbies you think you might be interested in now and get a sense of what you really enjoy doing. It’s ok not to know what you want to do with your life. You have plenty of time to find a career path, even if it doesn’t feel like it. If you do well in school and remain engaged and interested, you will have opportunities waiting for you when you’re ready for them.”
-Gaia Zori, Executive Director
Publishing: “All that advice you’re getting about hard work paying off is true. But… you have time, so take some opportunities to explore and have fun. Invest time in your friends and your hobbies. Especially enjoy the summers off! I can’t tell you how much I’d love to have a summer off again. It’s all about balance.”
-Christine Munroe, Author Relations Manager
Web Design: “ I remember in high school being so devastated about the smallest things, like not being able to go to a party because I couldn’t borrow the car, or other really silly stuff. If I could give my high school self advice, I’d say, “In one year, none of the things that seem so important right now will matter at all, so just chill out!” I’m not sure I’d listen though!”
-Caitlin Garzi, Web Designer
Writing: “I would tell her not to worry so much, and remind her that, while it doesn’t necessarily get easier, she gets stronger.”
-Sara Erdmann, English Teacher
Now tell us: Who do you nominate for the next ‘Role Call’ woman who inspires? Maybe it’s you. Leave your thoughts, ideas and requests in the comments section below!