7 Lessons I Learned The Hard Way: Surviving School


Oh, to be in school! To have no obligations aside from learning and improving yourself. To actively feel your mind expand and your experiences multiply. It’s a dream, is it not? Well… most of the time it is. But what about those times when you find yourself alone, eating a cold grilled cheese sandwich in the school theater? Or what about the time you realize that in the class portrait, which is the FIRST page of the yearbook, you are seated in such a way that everyone can see directly up your skirt?* Those times can be devastating. I hope these tips can help you, dear reader, as you embark upon this school year.

7. Be kinder than you think you actually are.

If your normal self would make fun of Alastair for saying that his favorite music is Mozart (what a loser – ZING), your first day of school self should keep this type of criticism to herself. You never know when someone is going to make fun of your love of dinosaurs or ancient Egypt. We’re all little weirdos. Plus, Mozart is actually the bomb. Have you seen Amadeus?

6. Wear a first day of school outfit that you would be okay with five years in the future.

If you are wearing a mini-tee that reads “Pugs…Not Drugs” or “Do It In The Mud…We did at The North American Monster Truck Rally” or “Chrome Hearts…F*ck You” please reconsider. These novelty tees do not hold up to the test of time. Also, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I don’t like crop tops either. Especially at school. They make me feel physically awkward in the same way that girls without bras make me cringe. NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: At this point it is impossible for me to say if I don’t like the look of girls without bras OR if I’m just so jealous of ladies who can get away with it that I have become a hater. I’m probably a semi-hater with some valid points.

5. If you overhear the resident jock, douche-bag whisper to the cool girls that you have pit stains, and you turn red with embarrassment because:

  • This is first time you’ve realized this a thing at all
  • Now you see your white blouse really is soaked
  • Why, God, why are you realizing this on the first day at your new High School where you already feel like a total misfit, PLEASE don’t run to the doctor to freeze your sweat glands.

Thirteen years in the future, when your armpits are dry even after spinning – you will be genuinely worried that Dr. Myers injected you with something toxic.

4. At some point in school you will encounter a girl who attempts destroy your life.

At times she will seem like a friend, joining your family for a weekend in Palm Springs. At others times, she will spread a rumor that your mom has a douchebag in the shower of your home and that you listen to “lesbian radio” (It was NPR, thank you very much, Kate). You will think she is out to get you. You are right. She’s out to get you because someone got to her. Probably her parents. Whatever twisted mind games she’s pulling on you her own family pulled on her. This doesn’t mean you have to forgive her (again – she is trying to ruin you), but this does mean that the next time she excludes you from lunch for not having shell toe Adidas shoes you don’t need to take it as a personal assault. This is all about her weirdness and insecurities, not yours.

3. Don’t let the bastards get you down. You are totally fine, I promise.

2. You are smart. I am sure of it. But you don’t need to raise your hand and point out to the class that Alexis’ thesis statement is split, thus, incorrect. You don’t need to do this because bringing down other people’s work does not bring up your own. UNLESS you were specifically asked what was wrong with Alexis’ Canterbury Tales thesis and you were merely answering the teacher’s question. SO REALLY – isn’t it the teachers fault for asking students to critique each other’s work on the very first day of class? I mean, who does that? Also, while we’re here – I don’t think peer review works until college, maybe.

1. This is a tool I learned recently but I think it would have helped me in school: be grateful. Even when you are jealous of Kate’s luxe cashmere sweater, or if you are jealous of how supportive Lauren’s family is, even if you feel like you have been given nothing, force yourself to be grateful. Write down ten reasons every day why you are grateful – even if the ten reasons are not entirely truthful. Fake being grateful until you actually are. I guarantee you will be happier for it.


Maybe don’t ask to have lunch with your teacher? Ms. Hunt is wonderful, she is the beacon of your life AND she gave you 100 extra credit points last semester for your report on the Shetland Islands (!!!), but you need to find friends with whom you like to spend time…I don’t know though…I think having lunch with Ms. Hunt actually made me feel safer and like less of a loser and gave me hope that humans might grow into kindness when I was mercilessly teased for still liking The Power Rangers…yeah…I take it back. Have lunch with your teacher if you need to. Kids can be the worst.

BONUS BONUS LESSON: Sometimes you have to raise your hand because no one else will. You will feel awkward and embarrassed because chances are you are usually the student to raise her hand, but guess what, these questions won’t answer themselves and there is no reason to make your poor teacher plead for participation. Just raise your hand.

*I guess this is funny now? IDK, still sucks.

Agree/Disagree/Have lessons of your own? Tweet me @taraschustar or tell me in the comments pretty please. I wanna know!

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This post originally appeared at HELLOGIGGLES.

image – iStockphoto