BACK TO THE HIVE: Katelynn Perno's Advice They Wish They Had in High School


High school is a time of extreme growth and finding out who, what, and how you want to be. I wish I had then the insight about what the future of my young adulthood would bring. My time in EHHS was filled with new experiences and opportunities, people coming and going, and more growth and exploration than I could ever imagine. Luckily, I had a few mentors who imparted some great advice to help me navigate this tumultuous time. Those mentors got me through the best and worst times, so allow me to be your guide. 

Here’s five pieces of advice I wish I could give to my younger self:

Stay true to you

Whoever and whatever you are is okay. Embrace yourself wholeheartedly, all of the parts. The right people will love you for exactly who you’re meant to be. Invest fully in yourself; you deserve to be the most authentic version of you.

Not knowing is okay

Here’s a secret that no one tells you: the majority of us are still trying to figure it all out. In my experience, there was a lot of pressure to have everything figured out by the time you graduate. I’m a firm believer that everything will unfold exactly as it’s meant to. The truth is that you’ll always have something you’re trying to figure out. You have time!

The only thing you can count on is change

In the words of John C. Maxwell, “Change is inevitable, growth is optional.” The only thing about your early adulthood that anyone can guarantee is that change will happen over and over again. You’ll experience friends who come and go, the start of your career, moving into college, moving out, and so much more. The transition from high school to the “real world” is so beautifully turbulent. Carry with you what high school has taught you, and use it as a solid foundation for the life you build. The best way to tackle this inevitable pattern is to grow along with the change. Remember: if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

This doesn’t have to be the best time of your life

Yes, I said it. Once I got to junior and senior year, I repeatedly heard that this was the best time of my life and I’ll miss it when I get older. While there were so many things in high school I loved and fondly look back on, I can safely say that those weren’t the best years of my life. There’s this magic to your early adulthood: the bliss of the unknown and the joy of figuring it out. You, too, will experience the magic.

You can do anything, but you can’t do everything

I encourage each of you to dream big and reach for the stars, but remember that asking for help and/or accommodations is okay and not a sign of weakness. Overextending yourself at the price of your peace and well being isn’t a victory. Your early adulthood is filled with learning more about yourself, navigating life, and setting healthy and appropriate boundaries. You can do anything you’d like with this one life you’ve been given, but you can’t and shouldn’t carry the weight of it all on your own.

Whether you’re just starting high school, or almost finishing it up, I hope you can find solace in this advice. Enjoy your high school experience - the big and the small moments! You’re doing so much better than you think you are, and I’m so proud of each of you!

Katelynn Perno (they/them) is a proud 2017 East Haven High School graduate. During Mx. Perno’s time at EHHS, they were in every music ensemble offered, drum major of the marching band, and a member of multiple clubs. They later returned to EHHS as a Special Education Paraprofessional for 3 years, but now pursues full time work as a supervisor of The Yale Bookstore. When not at work, Mx. Perno enjoys reading books off an ever growing to be read list, spending time making memories with their best friends, and pursuing anything artistic and creatively fulfilling. They will be continuing their education this winter at Gateway Community College to obtain their degree in Social Work.