Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

12 Things I Learned in High School

Awhile back I returned to my high school alma mater and spoke to the high school students. Here’s the gist of my message: 12 Things I Learned in High School.
1. Act as if you belong.
In 12-step support groups this means “fake it til you make it.” I just remember being incorrectly placed in an honor’s class. I sat there next to Tony M., a fellow average-intelligence classmate who I recently hooked up with on Facebook, wondering what language everyone was speaking. And Tony reminded me that by acting as though we belonged, we fooled Mr. Troha into giving us As!
2. Today can be the beginning of a new life.
My senior year, a few teachers pulled me aside and challenged me on my self-destructive behavior involving alcohol. Apparently some stories about the Homecoming dance had made it back to them. “What’s going on?” one religion teacher asked me. It prompted me to ask the hard questions and confront my alcohol addiction. I remember sitting up in bed one evening that year wondering if the decision to abstain from alcohol that day would really influence the rest of my life. Twenty years later, I can confidently answer that question: absolutely.
3. Never lose your sense of humor.
Humor is by far my strongest ally in the fight against negative thinking and despair. I try to remind myself daily of what G.K. Chesterton said, “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.”
4. Success is 99 percent sweat, one percent talent.
Take it from this girl who didn’t break 1,000 on her SATs. Perseverance. That’s all you need. Just as the Japanese proverb says, “Fall seven times, get up eight.” Or an anonymous saying “The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground.”


5. Gratitude and kindness will open many doors for you.
My dad taught me this one. As a very savvy business man, he stressed the importance of “thank you” notes, and expressions of appreciation, especially to the gate keepers like the assistants to the publishers you want to publish your book. A little kindness to her will get you in the door.
6. Compare and despair.
Something to keep in mind: you never know the whole story on people you envy, so try not to compare your insides with another person’s outsides. I can confidently say that it will never lead to peace.
7. Give back.
Gandhi once wrote that “the quickest way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” The only surest way out of my pain has been to box it up, sort through it, and figure out how it might help someone else.
8. Peer pressure never goes away.
Your friends influence you more than you think. Studies show that folks who hang out with optimists become optimists themselves; folks who hang out with cheating couples are more inclined to cheat. So choose your pals wisely.
9. Ask for help when you need it.
I did that for the first time when I was a senior in high school, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
10. Be yourself.
Anna Quindlen writes in her small giftbook “Being Perfect” that “Nothing important or meaningful or beautiful or interesting ever came out of imitations. Perfection is static, even boring. Your unvarnished self is what is wanted.”
11. Forget about perfection.
Leonard Cohen writes in the lyrics to his song, “Anthem,” that there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.
12. Lean on God.
He is always there. Don’t be afraid to call on him.
Like Psalm 145 says “The Lord is close to all who call on him.”


Click here to subscribe to Beyond Blue and click here to follow Therese on Twitter and click here to join Group Beyond Blue, a depression support group. Now stop clicking.

  • Your Name

    Wow! What a wonderful, wonderful talk that was. Each of those salient points I *really* needed to be reminded of.
    What a wise person you are. You have learned some valuable lessons in your 30+ years. And we, your readers, are indeed so blessed to know you through this blog. The students at the high school were so fortunate to meet you and learn about your life, your struggles and your accomplishments and your values.
    Thank you, for helping us in our struggles and afflictions to move beyond blue.

  • kate/deepwithin

    Really thankful for #7 – you “box things up” well…thanks Therese.

  • vicki widener

    When ever I am having negative moments and I read your articles,I find that things are not as bad as I really thought. Thank you for sharing your world with us.nay7kq

  • Willette

    I am at a point in my life that I had made a decision that was real hard for me to do. So I have had some down time for me. And in taking the time to actually open and read my messages from it has given me good positive feels about where I am in my life. Thanks for having such great words to inspire everyone. I go to the site everyday for that up lifting inspiration I need in my day to get a start.
    Thanks Willette Marie

  • MarleneEmmett

    What a really great story~and oh how true also.
    High School was my best time.
    I made some friends who I’m still speaking to today.
    We’re talking over 35 years ago.
    One in particular,who I’m really close to.

  • Serginho

    I liked them all except “Just be yourself”.
    Not only is it inapposite to one of the other 11 postulates (Fake it until you make it), “Jby” was the worst advice I have ever been given. As such, I am a firm believer in “Fiuymi”. If one intends to say “Be authentic”, which I think is the gist of Jby, then say, “Be authentic”. Say what you mean.
    Otherwise, a fantastic piece as always Ms. Borchard.

  • John Olsen

    Excellent list and I am sure it was a great talk! When you mentioned this in your facebook status, I chimed in to mention that I had lost several good friends to drunk driving accidents in high school.
    A few things I might add to your excellent list involve “myth-busting” common misconceptions that high schoolers, young adults (and even some older adults) have:
    -drinking alcohol or using illicit substances does not make one more mature- in fact the effect is often exactly the opposite
    -even “just this once” can easily end up being a tragic one time too many (which was the case with at least one of my friends who died)
    -using alcohol or drugs does not make problems go away, rather, it only makes them worse and creates more of them
    -there IS ALWAYS help available in the form of national hotlines, local counselors and trusted mentors
    -if your “friends” will only accept you into their group if you drink alcohol or do drugs, then you don’t need them as your friends
    -NEVER EVER get in a car with ANYONE who is under the influence-even if they are a passenger and not the driver (with one of my friends, three of the girls who were passengers were intoxicated, while the driver was not; the drunk girls in the car distracted the driver, and a head-on collision with three deaths resulted).
    -if you are feeling tempted/pressured to have a drink or try drugs, step outside, get some fresh air, and go somewhere else or go with others with whom you will not be tempted
    -if you do try alcohol or drugs- call a parent, trusted (sober) grown-up, or cab for a ride home.
    This is a vitally important topic in which, quite literally, thousands of lives are at stake- thanks for spreading the word!
    Best regards,

  • Dawn

    Number 8 seems to suggest we shouldn’t be friends with anyone who’s overweight!

  • Therese Borchard

    I certainly didn’t mean that you shouldn’t befriend anyone who is overweight. My only point was to highlight research that says who you hang out with affects you. Sorry if I offended anyone, which I almost always do. Therese

  • Carmon Pomaibo

    I loved this piece. I just had another talk with my kids this evening about the use of drugs and alcohol. A friend of my son (an 8th grader) was got smoking pot this week at school. I have always talked to my son about this friend and how I wasn’t sure about his behavior. Well, what I said all along came true. Now his “friend” is suspended for 10 days and will have a court hearing. His mother will probably be paying fines and God knows what else.
    Listen to your parents, they do know what they are talking about!!

  • Carrie

    Dawn, thanks for commenting on #8…………I feel the same way, and still don’t quite understand what weight has to do with the point.
    I realize we are what we surround ourselves with…that is why I stay away from negative people etc…but to use obesity as an example?
    Some people are naiive enough to take that to heart…hope I don’t lose any friends ….

  • Lou

    I appreciate your work. It’s great to be reminded by this wise thoughts!
    No. 12… this is what I liked the most!!!

  • M

    Thanks Therese. This is excellent. I continue to need encouragement and be reminded of these good things.

  • Kathy

    As written in number 2 about her waking up to her self destructive behavior, that is what obesity is as well. Like smoking, alcohol, cocaine, food etc. Self inflicted addictions. Those of you complaining about number 8 should get a wake up call. There’s no need for her to apologize for what she said. I applaud her for it. You just don’t want to hear the truth. Maybe its time to hear it. Get a grip of yourself, stop over indulging on food, go out walk and exercise. Eat a nourishing diet. Get help like most other alcoholic, drug users do. Stop wallowing in self destructive behavior by eating your way to death. This is a about you. What she says is correct. If you hang out with drug users you usually become one. If you hang out with people who eat all day, especially unhealthy food, you end up doing it also. People like to fit in with their friends and family. Children who are raised by obese parents who don’t know how to eat themselves thus pass the addiction on to their children. Some people are heavier than others through DNA, but Not obesity. Look around America compared to other countries. We’re the fattest nation in the world. Fast food, laziness, lack of exercise, lack of self discipline, we do it to ourselves. America did not look this way 50 years ago. Get educated. Get going. Get healthy.
    This body of ours is the temple of God. Treat it as such. Pray for guidance and self control.

  • Bev Y

    I am on a food binge that has lasted far too long. I was most encouraged by Kathy’s comments. I just hate myself like this. But I have no desire to follow what I know is a healthier life style!! I would like to die by over consuming too much food. It is not WORKING. IDEAS?????????????????????????????????????????

  • pamylla

    Many good points…forgetting about perfection is definitely a good one to remember. And we all need to lean on God for strength.
    But I don’t so much like the example of ditching or avoiding friends because they’re obese, although I get your point. We don’t want to be around people who bring us down. Yet, maybe we can give support to those who are obese instead of giving them the cold shoulder. Why avoid them just because they aren’t “perfect”? Would Gandhi or Jesus have done this?
    Thanks for many good ideas. :)

  • Bookay

    While some obese folks overeat in front of others, many choose to eat alone – it’s like a private issue to them.
    I don’t think people should shun obese folks as friends any more than they would stop being friends with someone because they smoke cigarettes or have a drink or two. We need to love and accept people for who they are – not shun them because they have a bad habit.

  • Beth Ann

    Your Number 8 was wrong. Do a little research into why women become ‘obese’ Until i read different i will consider deleting this site from my favorites.
    Pretty COLD, Lady!

  • Harriet

    most people have addictions that they are not taking care of…You probably have some too. They may just be in the form a different behavior or psychological habit (such as judging others when you haven’t been in their shoes, their mind, or body). Whereas obesity is something you can see on the OUTSIDE. You’re wrong to assume conquering any addiction is as simple as having self discipline, or not being lazy. It’s much more complicated than that. I AM obese, and though I intend to change that, I am not in the least bit ashamed of it, and I’m certainly not going to change it for the sake of people like you. After all, if everybody was perfect according to your standards, who would you have to judge and criticize?

  • Pissed off

    you’re all a bunch of lame, overbearing, belittled women who were probably at some point abused a male figure in your life. now all you do is sit at home and watch martha stewart or bake cookies even though you already ate an entire tub of ice cream while listening to sarah mclachlan and crying about how your son got a 74 on his math test, because we all know that if your kids don’t do well in high school, they’ll never amount to anything. nobody really cares about your problems, so you might as well do internet search engines a favor and stop posting your sob stories

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Your Name

    Dear Pissed Off, you are very funny ! Re-read number 8 everybody, it has NOTHING to do with overweight. If, however, you wish to take it that way…..

    Number 8 is being aware of the effect that the friends that you choose have on you. My first thought was to the character traits that I admire in my friends. If yours was to obesity, then where’s your mind at?

    Now to my treadmill to spike up my endorphins… (only joking, but I was enthused by your blog last year Therese on how you got through a day and how hitting the treadmill was part of your discipline and routine)

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment AGREE TO DISAGREE….

    BLOGS are not always about ‘agreeing’ or ‘gospel truth.’ For me, it gives me a varied ‘point of view’ that allows me to establish my own path as I benefit from others experiences, thoughts, honesty, etc. MY BLOG is about my experiences, I invite others to share their views, thoughts, experiences that support my desire to be the Best ME I can be…however, I understand that I may grow through someone challenging me by disagreeing with my view as much as I may grow from agreeing with me.


    “AGREE TO DISAGREE..” come to the table of life open to others point of views and were they are at in their journey. YOU do not have to AGREE-however by being able to AGREE to DISAGREE offer your thoughts in a constructive, respectful manor that allows for discussion and growth.



    After POSTING my comment I decided to add more. WHY? well, I wonder if I was correct or not. Maybe I am just as critical of the negative replies,I just express myself in to a less vengeance manner. AFTER ALL, the comments made were indeed worthy of considering, however, I was ‘offended’ how they were made the comments into a personal attack for the author of the BLOG; now having said that I find myself questioning am I honoring the same philosophy I am preaching by NOT ACCEPTING to AGREE to DISAGREE with the negative point of views; after all, obviously that is ‘where they are in their journey.’ Perhaps, my approach has a more ‘silent arrogance’ instead of a ‘blunt honesty of feelings..” if you are reading this, I ask you to share your thoughts..LET’s DISCUSS!


  • Beyond Blue

    Hi all. I really apologize if I offended anyone here. This post is from my archives and I remember changing the obesity line with “hang around optimists and you become an optimist” because it set off the same conversation. Please know that I am not judging obesity or weight. I was just using that as an example of how powerful our friends are. Again, sincere apologies. I know it’s a sensitive area. And I would change it now, but other people who comment won’t know what the heck other people are talking about. –Therese

Previous Posts

Seven Ways to Get Over an Infatuation
“Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered am I” wrote US songwriter Lorenz Hart about the feeling of infatuation. It’s blissful and euphoric, as we all know. But it’s also addicting, messy and blinding. Without careful monitoring, its wild ...

posted 12:46:43pm Feb. 19, 2014 | read full post »

When Faith Turns Neurotic
When does reciting scripture become a symptom of neurosis? Or praying the rosary an unhealthy compulsion? Not until I had the Book of Psalms practically memorized as a young girl did I learn that words and acts of faith can morph into desperate ...

posted 10:37:13am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

How to Handle Negative People
One of my mom’s best pieces of advice: “Hang with the winners.” This holds true in support groups (stick with the people who have the most sobriety), in college (find the peeps with good study habits), and in your workplace (stay away from ...

posted 10:32:10am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

8 Coping Strategies for the Holidays
For people prone to depression and anxiety – i.e. human beings – the holidays invite countless possibility to get sucked into negative and catastrophic thinking. You take the basic stressed-out individual and you increase her to-do list by a ...

posted 9:30:12am Nov. 21, 2013 | read full post »

Can I Say I’m a Son or Daughter of Christ and Suffer From Depression?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, we read: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” What if we aren’t glad, we aren’t capable of rejoicing, and even prayer ...

posted 10:56:04am Oct. 29, 2013 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.