how to suck a little less and be better adjusted: teenager edition

One of the many hats that I wear is that of a college counselor.  It gives me an opportunity to give good advice to young people.  It allows me to help students discover their passions and learn how to pursue them.  Mostly, it gives me an opportunity to work on the weekends without extra pay.

So while I’m reading essays and saving the world one personal statement at a time, here’s a little free advice college-style:

  • It doesn’t matter where you go/went. Beyond cheering like a nutcase at the big game, all you can do is annoy people by being too proud of your school.  Trust me, I went to Amherst. I know.  But seriously, so much more important than where you go to school is what you do when you are there.  Any place that can teach you that your shit smells like the rest of us, that you don’t know everything and that’s why you need to keep learning, and that being able to connect with other humans will take you farther than retaining book knowledge is a great place to study.  Sometimes, that place is the school of life.  That’s fine (and a lot cheaper).  Just learn something.
  • Most of the people that matter to you in high school shouldn’t and won’t when you’re 30.  While you’re spending all your time worrying about what some silly senior thinks of you, just know that in a few years when you’re mature enough to want to be your own person you won’t have time for him or her anymore.  And while we’re on it, if you meet anyone who tells you that high school is the greatest time of their life, run far away from that person.  Their best days are already behind them at 18 and you don’t need that in your life. If you’re lucky enough to survive high school with a handful of true friends, you are doing very well.  Treasure them; you’ll need someone to throw your bachelor party or provide you with an alibi at some point.

sat funny

  • Nobody cares about your SAT scores.  Great, you aced a four hour exam and you’re on your way to the Ivy League.  You should be very proud of yourself…for a few days.  And then it’s time to get a life and move on.  There is no inherent worth in being able to score well on a test.  There is an inherent douchery in people who cannot let it go, however.  Whatever you do well, do well.  But learn a little humility.  It will make it suck less when you realize later in life that your boss has a learning disability and barely finished school but is a people person and a problem solver nonetheless.
  • And while we’re at it, nobody cares that you’re different.  What I mean is, nobody owes you anything for being different, for having a hardship, etc.  You should certainly be proud of the things that make you you, but don’t expect the earth to change its axis to shine a little extra sunlight on your special ass.  By the same token, don’t spend your life complaining because the deck is stacked against you.  Here’s the truth: some of us have to work harder to get to the same level as others.  The more you bitch about it, the more ground you lose.  I’m a gay black man living in a straight white world and unless the glitter fairy visits us next Kwanzaa and changes the order of the universe, I have to adjust my tactics to get what I need.

That feels like enough world saving for the day.  It’s time for this college counselor to have a little recess.

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