High school can seem like the longest but also the shortest four years of your life. We spend most of our time tackling rigorous assignments and furiously checking essay topics off an endless list. Not only that, but we also need to keep up with all the latest drama in school, make sure that our outfits aren’t too “extra,” and practice smiling in front of the mirror so when the girl you don’t like passes by, it looks natural. While these things seem like scenes in High School Musical or Mean Girls, they actually do happen in real life no matter how subtle. But high school should be about making unforgettable memories with people you genuinely love and learning invaluable lessons. In order to do so, no matter how cliche it sounds, you have to embrace who you truly want to be.

The first category you can work on to improve your school life is relationships. If your friends are pressuring you to do things you don’t want to do or do not support you when you need them the most, then it might be time to start reaching out and getting to know different people. One of the best parts of high school should be the memories you make with your friends.In order to make these memories, you’ll need to have the right people. Other than surrounding yourself with positive friends, it is also great to find an older mentor to help guide you through your high school career. This mentor could be an upperclassman, a teacher, or counselor. It is important to have someone older that you can always rely on to give you a different perspective on the problems you’re facing and receive keen insight. High school is not an individual journey, so don’t be afraid to reach out.

The next category that you can work on is yourself. Find activities that you can do when you feel like you need a break from the troubles you are dealing with. This could be joining a sports team, school musical, or even just enjoying leisurely activities alone. It is important to avoid burnouts, so give yourself breaks and things to look forward to. However, it is important to keep in mind that giving yourself too many breaks for too long might not be helpful. While high school is about having fun and enjoying your youth, it is also a time for you to develop academically and create a strong work ethic. Find a balance between the two, and the rest will be a breeze.

Whether you choose to count the days until it ends or the endless days of fun, you control the way your four years of high school turn out. But if you have the chance to make things better, why not take it? Play hard, study hard, and make your four years matter.