Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The High Schooler’s Unabridged Guide to Survival

Oh god this is incredibly old. It’s a letter I wrote at the end of my senior year for the incoming freshmen (as an assignment.) Figured I’d post it for gits and shiggles.


The High Schooler’s Unabridged Guide to Survival:
Word Out and Heads Up to All You Crazy Students

In life, you will conquer many enemies. You will ride many waves, and you will encounter many obstacles. You will meet many mornings, afternoons, evenings, and nights when you want to rip your hair out and scream your injustices to the world. High school, however, does not have to be one of those times. In fact, high school can be short-lived, uneventful, static, and boring. But then, what fun would that be? Let’s be real; no one is perfect, and everyone is a little wild in their own quiet or not-so-quiet way. What I’m about to bestow upon you, dear reader, is a complete, comprehensive, FREE Guide to a Not-As-Painful-As-It-Has-to-Be High School “Career”.

Have Friends in High Places

It’s a good idea to make friends with the administrators, so when you get into trouble, they’ll be on your side. Now, I’m not telling you that it’s ok to go out and do bad things and try to get away with it. It’s just that they tell you to “behave and you won’t run into any trouble.” However, the administrators who tell you “good guys always come out on top” are obviously new to the system and haven’t figured out how the real world works. There are times when some sadistic turn of fate will come your way no matter how wonderful a person you may be, and in these times of dire need, it’s always a good thing to have friends in high places.

I highly recommend getting to know the deans, the social worker, guidance councilors (all of them), the principal, and Mr. Sansone in that order.

The deans are the ones you get forked off to if you screw up. They’ll handle all of the disciplinary actions. Work to see if you can get to know them on a nearly first name basis, and I mean in a good way. Get them to recognize you as a good-doer through earning academic awards, becoming head of a club, and winning trophies for some random competition you may or may not have cared about.

Next you should get to know your school social worker. Social workers are people who are under-paid to be nice and helpful to you. The school social worker has influence within the school and county offices. If you have problems in school, with friends, or at home, the school social worker will always be there to help you.

Then you should get to know your guidance councilors. First and foremost, get to know your “personal” guidance councilor. They’re extremely busy people, and you will never ever get anything done in life if they don’t like you or don’t know you exist. I am personally known as ‘the girl who never gets her paper work in’, but hey, I have a name and that’s good enough recognition. By the way, they’re under-paid too.

Also, the principal is another important person to get to know. I highly suggest you do not get known as the person who placed his car on top of the third-story building as a senior prank. When you see Mr. Duffy in the hallway, say hello to him. This is the person who is allowed to say ‘yes’. He is the perfect person to know when you need an “ok” to work on special projects during class time or get funding for a club or class activity.

And last, but certainly not least, know Mr. Sansone. Mr. Sansone is the person who coordinates all of the senior events, and where this may or may not seem like a long time from now, it comes a lot faster than you think. I would have to say that seniors fear Mr. Sansone. He can be rather crabbish towards you if you walk into his classroom and ask a question about activities…. He also controls the parking permits for the school. Mr. Sansone is a very powerful person, and if you want to secure your social future at Charlotte High School, you must be his friend. Being kind to people pays off in the long run, never forget.

Know the Future of America
Believe it or not, that kid that’s sitting behind you picking his nose in world history class is actually the future president. The people you meet in high school do not disappear after you graduate. The people that you’re friends with now may become the helping hand you need in your career, and that kid that you turned down at prom with one finger up on each hand - he’ll be your boss.

It’s very important to remember these people’s names. I am ashamed to say that in my tenth grade year, I had no idea what the name was of the girl who sat next to me in second hour geometry class. Names are an extremely important tool to someone who wants to be a success in high school and in life. Names are how one human being identifies himself from another human being. They carry a certain value that cannot be matched by any amount of apology. All of those creepy yet powerful people, Fredrick the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolph Hitler, Bill Clinton, they all had an amazing talent for recalling names.

If you have trouble with remembering names, I’ll give you a bit of advice. This is a little trick that I learned from my dad. When you meet someone new, write down their name and some basic information about them. This information could be written down on the computer or in a log book. Then, each time you learn something new about them (like a phone number, address, what color underwear they wore last Tuesday) add it to your log. Also, each time you have a significant encounter with this person, write that down as well, and then the next time this person randomly calls you on the phone, you’ll know exactly who you’re dealing with. Just… don’t try to look like a stalker…or a creep. I think creeps are worse….

((*Note, this obviously was written before Facebook became a common tool.))

Record Everything
Have you ever wondered why that guy in the court house is always writing down everything everyone says and does? The answer is simple. Whoever is in charge wants to be able to recall anything anyone said at any one time so that he or she can hold it against whomever it is that said it. The lesson is to record everything.

I wish as a freshman I had known how valuable journals could be. I kept a casual online blog throughout my entire four years in high school, and now I can go back to the very beginning and read how melodramatic and slap-happy I used to be. Now, I can go back to the beginning and read about adventures with friends, about fights I had been in, about people I used to like and dislike. Now, I can go back and read about the people I’ve lost. I can read about friends that have died, friends that I’ve helped, people I’ve touched. A journal, or any sort of recording of your life, is the most rewarding effort that could ever be put forth in high school. It doesn’t matter if you write once a day or once a month. As long as there is something there for you to look back upon, you can see how far you really have come.

You grow up in high school. It’s an interesting thing, growing up. Four years from now, you won’t know that you’ve changed at all. You won’t realize that you were ever anywhere near immature. It would be a shame if you never knew yourself the way other people know you. Journals help you discover what you’ve actually done, where you’ve been, and where you’ll go in the future. Don’t let life pass you by without leaving its mark behind.

Learn How to Fight
One of the most important things in high school is fighting. You may not agree with me. I know I wouldn’t agree with myself if I hadn’t been there already. There are two forms of fighting: safe fighting and unsafe fighting. Unsafe fighting is when you get into a verbal or physical argument with someone, and you get into trouble for it. Anybody in the entire world can fight unsafely- as a matter of fact, they do. The key in high school is learning how to “safe fight”, which is actually a top-secret six-step formula of how to get away with anything. This formula can be taken literally or can be applied to any approach to life.

First, the enemy has to land the first blow. Second, you walk away. Third, they chase you. Fourth, they tackle you. Fifth, you claim you were frightened. Sixth, kick their butt.

At first this may seem like a stupid, weak option. In most cases, an argument will not escalate beyond the second step, thereby leaving both parties peeved and somewhat disappointed. However, in the event the situation does escalate beyond step two, you will agree with the formula when you get your sweet victory, and you get away with it.

There will be times when your life in high school could be rightfully described as a twisted freak accident. It is just important to remember that records, connections, and good communication are the three key ingredients to success. Some people will tell you that high school is worthless, and others will tell you it’s one of the best times of your life. I’m going to tell you one thing: it’s an experience. Of course, I’m just some stupid, faceless senior that thinks she knows what she’s talking about. You would be right, dear reader. High school for you will be like all other life experiences; you’ll figure it out eventually.

See You on the Other Side.

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