High School is just a few short years in your life — but when you’re living it, it can seem like a lifetime.

While some people seem to breeze through junior high and high school as superstars, others are filled with dread from the moment they step on that big yellow bus. So, if you’re not the team captain or the prom queen, take heart and read on.

Why is it that some students have an easy time, and others dread high school? Family dynamics play a huge part. If you have someone who has been supportive and encouraging throughout your childhood, and if you have had learning experiences with varied activities, you are more likely to take the risks necessary to succeed. A parent who is nonjudgmental and supportive gives you the added security of knowing that even if you fail, it’s not the end of the world.

We don’t get to choose our families, and some of us have to overcome toxic situations that discourage learning and deflate our self-confidence. So how can you make these years better, get through them, and get on with your life?

1. Be Willing to Take a Risk. Try something new, just for you. Put aside what other people might think and don’t worry about being a newbie — just plunge in to that art class, fun run or community fundraiser. Walk right into that room full of people. Find someone who looks as lost as you feel, and reach out. Which brings us to…

2. Volunteer. There’s no better way to feel better about you than to help someone else.  And no matter how bad you think life is, there’s always someone less fortunate. Call or e-mail the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Children’s Hospital or a senior center and you’ll find a wealth of ways to add value to someone else’s life while building your confidence, self-esteem, and future resume.

3.   Find One or Two True Friends. People that you trust, that are nonjudgmental — that’s really important to ease the way. Only by being honest about your likes and dislikes will you discover others who like the same. Doing activities you enjoy with true friends are the chief memory-makers of high school.

4.  Be the Unique Person that You Are. First, find out who you are. Go online and take the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (Google Myers-Briggs) and take the short test for free. This test has been used by psychologists for years and serves as a reliable indicator of your basic personality traits. There are no right or wrong answers. Once finished, you will get written results about your core personality that may surprise you. You will also receive suggestions about ideal future occupations. And you will find that you are less critical of yourself once you discover you are really hard-wired to stay home and read on a Saturday night — and that’s okay! Once you understand your unique personality, you can appreciate yourself and build on your strengths.

5.  Exercise. Get your heartrate going for 30 minutes per day to burn off energy, frustration and worries. You’ll feel better about yourself, be healthier and sleep better every night.

6. Silence your Inner Critic. When you find you are beating yourself up about a mistake you made or a mediocre grade, pretend you are your own best friend and imagine what you would tell them if they came to you with a problem. Would you criticize your friend, or would you encourage them and be kind? Be kind to yourself, just like a good friend would.

Watch this space for more ideas from your friends at Fairborn Digital Academy.