Thursday, March 19, 2015

Survive High School! A Pragmatic Approach.

I recently aged into being the parent of a high-schooler. As if just the thought of going back to high school isn't horrific enough, the thought of my precious oldest daughter going there sends me into the shakes (no need for the speedball, which I hear is still a "thing" in high school). Now before you argue, "I LOVED high school!" or "High schools are safer now than they were in 1979!" let me just add that I'm not frightened for her nor do I worry she'll come home one day and announce that she's made the cheerleading squad (heaven forbid). No, I just feel sorry for her is all. Knowing that she has to get up at least 180 days of the next 365 and face all that crap? Hey, I'm extremely glad it's not me. I'll take sitting in rush hour traffic, missing lunch to make a deadline and listening to my neighbor swear/sing/fart/burp all day long…hands down. 

This daughter of mine who was accused of being "pensive" when she was only hours old has survived over half of freshman year already and is turning 15 this week. But I haven't really given her any advice about high school. I've been sitting back and seeing how she does. I might have thought about it last summer, but the day we went to sign up, she came downstairs in a Nirvana t-shirt and walked out the door in front of me. It was then I nodded to myself and said, "Yeah, baby!" And I knew she was going to be alright. She won't read this because she doesn't read anything I write, but I'll write it anyway. It'll sit out on the interwebs and someday be found by a prospective employer of mine who won't hire me then because they'll know how f***ed up I am. 

Here's what you need to know to survive high school and make it to college:

  1)      The Corinthians didn't get it all right. "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." Hear it, file it away. But know that it's okay to play with beloved toys and do the crafts you always loved to do and giggle like a schoolgirl. You can set them aside too if you prefer, and bring them out later. You're too young to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders; let the world carry you for now and enjoy living off your parents and making rash decisions with almost no repercussion. It won't last.

2)      Believe that you're not "less" because you're too young to vote/drink/drive. Learn then, that adults are not "more" because they can. At the risk of shocking everyone, I will tell you that you don't have to respect a teacher or youth group leader or any adult just "because." They have to earn your respect; their position buys them nothing. I'm not saying "don't be respectful" – there's a difference. Even when they're not respectful to you. Hey kid, wrong plus wrong does not equal right. But if you're not getting a sense of a person's worth or quality or ability, MOVE ON. There are plenty of adults who are worthy. Remember that some teachers are teachers because they weren't smart or ambitious enough to become scientists or mathematicians. 

3)      Worthy teachers, youth group leaders and other adults can really help you out. I don't mean just to finish your homework or get good grades. I mean in LIFE. Latch on to those people and hang on tight. Don't let them get away (not that they would try, if they're truly worthy). You need referrals and recommendations. You need an objective adult ear to listen when you want to complain about your parents. You need someone who's not close to you to tell you when you're being stoopid. Not all of your girlfriends can or will do this for you (see below).

4)      It's okay to be the DUFF, or the one who brings the snacks to the sleepovers or the one who has the car. Really. Don't put forth extra effort just because you think it might get you "in." You won't see or keep in touch with 99% of the people you meet in high school anyway. Even your so-called "friends." Hang out. Laugh. It doesn't matter if you're laughing with them or AT them. Just laugh. See, because 90% of what those 99% of people do on a daily basis is completely ridiculous anyway and you know it.

5)      So you're an introvert? Consider yourself lucky. That means you don't depend upon the acceptance of other people to feel good about yourself. Feel sorry for those who do, but it's okay to laugh at them too (see above). I will apologize to you right now for all of the teachers who will mark your grade down because you don't shout out the answer, nearly shit your pants to be called on or ask them questions even when the answer is written on the board. And I'm sorry for every time people call you shy, quiet or stuck up. Lastly, I'm profusely sorry that some adults are so f***ing thick they make "small-talk" with you because they think you're not having a good time, they accuse you of "bringing down the group" with your stoicism or call your attitude "poor" because you stick to the edge of the crowds. Introverts are serious, successful and smart! Your best friends know that you are also loyal and that you would gladly give them the shirt off your back, though they might think that's weird for a high-schooler (and they'd be right, of course). Most teen girls favor their ne…SQUIRREL!

6)      Fashion designers, buyers and sellers are purveyors of LIES. They do what they do to make money. They don't care how ridiculous you look if you wear it. If they trotted out the same thing as last year, who would buy it? So their job is to keep re-inventing something that's not broken to begin with (unless it was last year's fashion trend, haha). Marketers send that crap to celebrities for free because they think you're stupid enough to copy the look. Much of the time, they're proven right. The same goes for the magazines and websites which try to convince you that if you buy/wear this/that, you'll be special too. You're not, unless you're referring to the kind of "special" that rides the little bus or gets shadowed at school. If you like it, great! If it's riding up your butt-crack, giving you corns or making you stick to your chair however, I won't believe you.

7)    Know and live your math. The average life expectancy of the American woman is 81 years. High school is 4. So 4.9% of your life is spent enduring the torture that is high school. That's like an hour if you look at your whole life as one day. You spend longer than that in the bathroom. If it helps, just think of the days at school like being in the bathroom. You do your business, you leave. Heck, you spend 16% of your days having a period, so you've GOT THIS!

8)      Go to Homecoming. Or don’t. Go to Prom, or don’t. It matters not. The people who say, “If you don’t go, you’ll always regret it” are talking smack. The only adults who truly believe that are the ones whose lives stopped improving after they graduated high school.

9)      Remember the advice you were given recently from an adult you respect (not the counselors or the teachers who have neither earned your respect nor bothered to learn your name): "Success is more about what you do when you're there than the path you took to get there… But, be unique so they remember you. And mind your GPA." Advice from 10 people will come 10 different ways. It's really okay to sit back in your chair and think to yourself, "Why should I take advice from this person who clearly has not mastered his/her own?" Put your headphones on. Zone out.

10)   It IS about you right now. College is about you too, but you can drink there. So consider this a warm-up to great things.

11)   Laugh. For heaven's sake. Everything is funny.

I think about that last one all the time, and it's true. That's how we survive every day no matter if we're in high school or at our jobs or at a daycare where some little asshole kid stole our toy away. At some point that kid will have diarrhea and not make it to the toilet and we can laugh like hyenas. And if it happens to us, we can laugh too, because that shit's funny (see what I did there?). Get a big, fat F on your English paper? Say to yourself, "Shit, I'm such a f***ing idiot. How do I even remember my own name?" Then picture what my face will look like when you tell me.

Happy 15th to my "little" Lulu!

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