I’ll break into this by tossing it out there that i was somewhat privileged in my education, always private schooled, was able to get several scholarships into schools that made the financial issues fairly easy to handle, and i am very, VERY thankful for that. It gave me some excellent opportunities, and some apparently skewed outlooks into things that make people raise their eyebrows when i voice my opinion. On such a widely opinionated topic, there’s no question that our opinions may differ, but all over i see this being a trend. I really don’t think that differing opinions mean a topic should be avoided, quite to the contrary in fact. When opinions differ, that’s when the mos effective communication has the opportunity to take place, and not just arguments, but opportunities to learn. So in the below article, i am going to be very opinionated however i am trying very hard not to let that bias make it sound like i look down on those that disagree, or even think that they are truly are wrong, It’s just different from what i feel and believe.
Being a privileged child that attended entirely private schools for my entire educational career, I grew up around other children who were fairly privileged as well. A surprising amount of my classmates were doctors, surgeons, self employed, or business owners, and the vast majority of my classmates had very good upbringings. This made sense since their parents clearly had enough money to send them to a school that costs a not insignificant amount of money per year to enroll in. Everyone wore school uniforms, and since it was a catholic school, masses were held semi regularly and theology classes were mandatory. Things were pretty great for me, especially in Highschool where i bloomed into something many people envied, popularity. That’s right, this game-playing, computer building, star wars watching, handsome fellow typing these words into a box on wordpress.com, was popular. There were roughly 300 students in my class and given enough time, and perhaps a yearbook i could name and toss out a few stories about pretty much all of them. I didn’t change since then either, in highschool i took electronics classes, Drafting classes, pre-calculus classes, computer programming courses, and even some advanced placement physics classes. I didn’t play sports for the school, but i showed up at the games, and i ate lunch with most of the football players. The concept of cliques didn’t even occur to me until years later when the general consensus was that everyone hated highschool. I didn’t do anything special, i was just myself, I didn’t hate anyone, nobody led on that they hated me. I was nice to everyone i met, and stood up for anyone not present to defend themselves, looking back, I’m very proud of the person i was then. I still keep in touch with everyone of course, i was just at my 5 year reunion as a matter of fact, and aside from the fact that only 25 people showed up because the rest ” didn’t want to deal with any of the people there” it was alot of fun.
I guess i should append that i was fairly physically able, I was a blue belt in Okinawan Shorin-ryu style martial arts in freshmen year of highschool, so i was adequately strong, and rather coordinated. In gym class i clearly wasn’t the most capable person depending on the sport featured that week, but you know what? i tried. There were always 4 kids in my gym classes that were picked last whenever the option was available, but something about those people that should be noted, they didn’t try. They didn’t WANT to try. They just sat in the back and tried to keep their head down and exert as little effort as possible. Nobody wanted that person on their team because they knew whether it was volleyball, hockey, soccer or basketball, that player was as good as a traffic cone. Whether or not they COULD help the team was anyone’s, but whether they WOULD was a guaranteed NO. I am forced to think of one person in particular in writing this, and though i am not using his name a few people will surely know who i mean should they ever read it. To this day he’s a fairly close friend of mine, but he had the WORST attitude of anyone i knew in highschool. Now i am going to get controversial here and say that this person was nerdy, but i was too! He was and still is wickedly intelligent, we shared tons of interests, we even sat together/ worked together in our computer programming classes. But at the time i couldn’t stand the guy. It got to me really hard too, i mean, i liked everyone in my school, from the basketball team to the quiz-bowl team of which i was captain in my junior/senior years. He was smart and talked down to everyone, as if their interests were somehow inferior to his. Talking to him at all was almost a chore because you got the feeling from his often half-attentive responses that he’d sooner be thinking about how the vectors in his latest programming adventure interacted than having a conversation with you. It was hard, and actually i regret what happened next, because it started a spiral of insults, practical jokes, and a great deal of just general picking-on of this boy, for which, if you’re reading this, i deeply regret and wish to appologize for.
High school was probably one of the most fun times of my life, i had lots of friends, weekends were spent hanging out with them or chatting with them online, and it just doesn’t make sense to me. I see all these horror stories of kids killing themselves and shooting places up, because of highschool. Highschool is the easiest time of your life, at least of mine. You still love at your parent’s house, the biggest pressure you have is passing history class, and maybe plucking up the courage to ask a girl to homecoming with you. Then after class you go to your after school job and work bussing tables or washing dishes to scrounge together some money to save up for that video game you want, or that car that you want when you turn 16. Once you’re home from work, you’re totally free, assuming you finish up an hour or so of things around the house with your family, and depending how far you are from your job most likely by 8-8:30 all your home life respobnsibilities will be fulfilled. (students under 16 aren’t allowed to work past 7 during the school year here in Pennsylvania.) So from 8:30 to whenever you go to bed you can blast out that quick 20 minutes worth of homework and then spend the rest of the evening doing whatever you want.
That was my life at least, my parents believed in making me appreciate what i had by working and maintaining jobs starting the day i turned 14 and was no longer prohibited from work by child labour laws. As a 23 year old man i look back on that, and graciously thank my parents for forcing me to do that, because when i graduated College With my specialized Associate’s degree and applied to dozens of jobs in the I.T. industry right as things were really getting bad in the job market, (sept.09- feb. 2010) I was getting call backs and my friends that just graduated with the same credentials I did were not. At the time i assumed it was maybe a combination of charisma, class rank, and slightly more on the job experience than some other candidates. I started My first official Job in the IT industry 2 weeks before classes ended at my college, and am still very fortunate to be happily employed there. ( I’m at my desk on my lunch hour typing this right now trying not to get my keyboard greasy from the Pizza i am eating.) After my first year working here I confronted my boss, I asked him why he chose me over those other equally qualified candidates. His first response, probably a little taken off guard by the question, was ” I don’t know really, you just seemed to be the best fit.”
Later when i stopped by his office to drop off some paperwork, he mentioned that he’d thought about it some more and that the #1 thing that got me on his call list, was that i was a 20 year old with 6 years of work experience. Many of the other applicants from my class either didn’t have jobs until they were 16 and suddenly realizing that gas costs money, or didn’t work while they were in college, or both. He said that always working, and especially at the big 3 crap jobs i had, food service, retail, and construction. Showed that i had a good work ethic, and also that since I’d worked crappy/hard jobs before, I’d be less likely to take this one for granted. He then told me a story about he’d done the same thing with his son and daughter, that he was a real hard-ass father that may have made his children’s lives more work than play, but that when they grew up, they’d both graduated from Penn-State Main Campus, his son has a family he supports, and his daughter was employed at a fairly respectable accounting firm.
I really diverged from my original point here, because half way through the last 2 paragraphs this stopped being about my childhood, and more so became a thank you to my parents, who clearly DID know what was best for me, and had a really large stake in making my life as awesome as it is today
To be so conceited as to think that i would know better than someone else , whether it be a young person in school or a parent whose high school days may be a little further in the past than they would like to admit. I’d offer this advice:
people may like you, people may dislike you, you may have given the reason to like you, they might just dislike you for some unknown reason, but never let someone else’s opinion of you outshine what you know to be true of yourself. You know what’s NOT cool? Trying to be cool. People are drawn to strong character, whether it be in positive or negative light. The opinion people get of you is based on your actions, the strength of that opinion is based on the strength of your character, if you are willing to compromise your character to act in a way to get people to like you, such as making fun of someone behind their back because you think it makes you cool, or picking on someone, or even just visibly avoiding someone because they’re uncool, just makes you a crappy person with weak character that nobody can respect.
Being the person who does things because that’s who they are and what they want to do may not always get you the best reputation, but it will definitely earn you more respect. Ultimately popularity and friendship is about Respect, strength of character, and content of character. When you demonstrate yourself to be a kind-hearted, helpful person, and you’re willing to stand by your friends, and even people who aren’t your friends, but you don’t think deserve to be talked about the way they are, you demonstrate your strong character. When you are petty, bitter, and jealous of people, all anyone will remember you for 2 months is exactly that, shit talking people not in the room, and being petty.
Basically, if you WANT to have a bad time in high-school, try to be popular, stab all your friends in the back until the people that you associate with either all leave, or just hang around to watch you make a fool of yourself for as long as it amuses them.
If you want trustworthy friends and to know everyone in your school, then just be nice to them, treat everyone with respect, and don’t be a doormat. It may feel like you’re getting nowhere, but as the people being jerks and assholes start to grate on people, and those people start drifting away from those assholes, you’ll be the nice person who didn’t judge them and treated them like everyone else, and maybe even stood up for them on occasion.
You never just want to write people off, like my friend did, you have to try and be social.
Maybe the star quarterback on the team has a really high pressure family, Most likely a father who demands his son play and win to make him proud. No wonder he’s so anal about plays and practice sessions.
That girl in the cheerleader outfit over there? Her mother has a skin disease that kept her from ever making the squad, and seeing her daughter succeed where she could not makes her so happy that if her daughter told her that she hated being an object and quit she’d be heartbroken.
That boy, sitting on his own in the cafeteria, drawing superheros in his copy-books with a ball point pen in silence. He gets off the bus, runs to his house, up to his room, and locks the door behind him. 10 minutes later the sound of glass breaking, a loud smacking sound, and his mother yelling accompany his alcoholic father’s homecoming. He puts in his ipod earbuds and turns the volume as loud as it will go. He still hears the banging on his door, the slurred swear words work their way into the song as he watches the door frame shutter.
The girl that always has hair swept in her face covering too much makeup, she always wears black, and her leggings are torn up and stretched. She wears forearm sleeves, or studded wristbands, or gloves all the time and she has several various piercings. Her textbooks have metal bands names in stylized writing covering them. Today like every other, gets home before her father and starts making dinner as quietly as she can. Dinner is almost ready when her dad gets home and he delicately goes in to wake her mother. A tense dinner is eaten in near silence, with only the scraping of knives and forks on china to be heard. her father thanks her as she gathers the plates, and does the dishes. once she’s finished cleaning up the remnants of dinner, she gathers the laundry and starts vacuuming the family room. A door slams and she stashes the vacuum hastily in the closet and heads for her room at a full run. Slamming and double locking her door with the dead bolt, she grabs her thick CD case, chooses the one that has “Canibal Corpse” scribbled on it in red and black sharpie it into the large stereo on her book shelf. Thunderous Metal music saturates the room at near deafening levels. She knows from experience that deafening volumes of metalcore is the only thing that can drown out her mother’s meth addled screams.
That kid that always gets perfect scores on tests, but never talks to anyone during open campus or after he finishes eating his packed lunch, because he’s feverishly working on finishing his homework.He needs his time after school to work at the grocery store. His mother has Cerebral Palsy, and though welfare keeps a roof over their heads, dinner is basic and he makes it himself. The happiest moments in his life are when he brings home a test with a perfect score to show to his mother, to watch her eyes light up, and for her to hug him and tell him how blessed she is to have such a wonderful son.
These are not hypothetical people, they are real, I’ve known each of them. you’ve just read 2-10 sentences of their daily lives,
Every life is complex, everyone has a story, why should anyone respect yours if you don’t stop for a fraction of a second to consider theirs.
If you read this far, thanks
if you didn’t i guess i don’t have to write anything on this line_________________________________________________________________.