So I’m going to spill a little secret to the cyber universe: though I sometimes like to write about very mature and controversial topics, I am in fact only a year out of high school, so the horror and awe of high school has not quite been fully shaken from me, the same way that the dust from the ravine of darkness that my grandfather experienced in World War II has never fully settled, and in his doddering age might never be fully shaken off.
High school was not the best time of my life, although that term doesn’t roll off my tongue very nicely because I detest the idea that there is ever a time in anyone’s life when all the stars line up in perfect tandem. If that were the case, I’d be in my casket already. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I wish I knew when I started high school. Here are eighteen things I would tell myself if College Lucy could go back in time and console High School Lucy:
1. Standardized public education in America is a mess, and as a high school student you are unfortunately an innocent victim in the madness. When you hate having to take a state test or abide by insidious Common Core Standards, remember that you will not always be a vessel on a sinking ship, and that one day you will be able to choose the environments in which you work and live.
2. Large public high schools are a microcosm of the kind of bureaucracy you might face in corporate America.
3. Diversity is a lie. It is only exists in school if it appeals to the white, straight and heteropatriarchal majority that puppeteers the student body in most high schools. Granted mine was a little different than your average, apple pie, run-of-the-mill public school since it was in one of the most progressive cities in America. This is slowly changing, but there’s still a very long way to go.
4. When teenangers are forced to wake up earlier than fucking garbage men, made to become repetition robots for 8 hours a day, and then sent home to inhale a regiment of information only to be replicated in the form of a meaningless multiple choice test, work that 99% of the time is just busy work, an environment of hate, indignity and wasteful competition arises.
5. Prom is an opportunity for women to reminisce on their youth when they are old and saggy and an excuse for people to get laid, high drunk, or some combination of the three. It literally has no other function.
6. High schools don’t have a fucking clue on how to approach the heated (pun intended!) topic of sex to students. This is why so many students continue to get pregnant, STDs, or just simply false information about these important issues.
7. On the same note, they also are just as clueless as to how to prevent bullying, drug addiction and mental illness. That is why they make you go to so many assemblies where they explain to you what it is.
8. Although most public schools in the US have somewhat extensive health curriculums, they incongruously have a tendency to feed their students complete and utter garbage, only wonder why so many students have diabetes and/or are morbidly obese.
9. 99% of the time, your classmates don’t give a shit about actually learning, as long as they can get a letter grade-that degrades the entire point of education-good enough for a top 20 university.
10. The Wear Your College T Shirt Day was designed with the sole purpose of being an opportunity for those who got into Harvard, Princeton, Yale or Stanford (or any one of their clone schools) to gloat, so if you’re not going to college or can’t afford a school that expensive, sucks for you.
11. ‘House Parties’ are the exact same thing every single time, so being sober at one is like watching paint dry without getting high from the drying paint.
12. The superstars in high school will continue to be superstars, and the losers will continue to be losers. So unless you actively try to divorce yourself from your high school identity, it will very easily creep into your college identity, and will make you who you will become as an adult. So if you didn’t do so great or didn’t have a lot of friends in high school, now is the time to change that.
13. Everyone is insecure. Except the 5% of the student body that is popular and fits all of societies’ boxes of normality. They are having the time of their lives. Just deal with it. At least some day you’ll leave a creative legacy on the world. (Right? This works as decent rationalization at any rate)
14. Teachers are overworked, underpaid, and chronically under appreciated. This isn’t to say you have to be a total kiss up sucker to your teachers because for some inexplicable reason they did choose this profession, but remember that they too are in fact human and deserve at least a little respect for having to spend their days with a bunch of angsty, socially awkward teenagers.
15. Sue Sylvester was right. High school is a caste system, but in the grand scheme of life it’s also such a short period of time in your life that you might as well try to make the most of it. You’ll be out of there as soon as you can, and believe me when I say that you can never anticipate the way you’ll feel when the day you never thought would arrive finally comes.
16. People will gossip; about you, about the loves lives of teachers, about each other, the list goes on and on. The only difference is that in college it’s at least slightly easier to avoid.
17. The sole purpose of high school reunions is revenge on the people that doubted you or teased and taunted you behind your back. Make sure to do something in those ten years that will make those former bullies and queen bees squirm in their seats in the high school gymnasium as they awkwardly fumble at their clothing and reminisce about their wasted youth.
18. Finally (and perhaps most importantly) questioning authority will make your life harder. Accept and embrace this, because if you do, I guarantee you will be able to leave a fingerprint on your high school (and the world).