It’s almost here. After much anticipation and a little bit of dread, Emily, 14, starts her first year of high school in a couple of weeks. Summer went by with blinding speed this year. I asked Emily how she feels about starting her freshman year at a new school.
“I’m nervous but also excited. I’m afraid I’ll do something stupid. What if I get lost? My biggest worry is what if my best friend is in a different lunch than I am? Who will I sit with? I already know that the homework thing is gonna kick my butt this year.”
So there you have it. There are so many mixed emotions about starting high school, it’s hard to sort them all out. Those of us who are now adults and somehow survived the high school experience without too much scar tissue or years of intensive psychotherapy, can totally relate. We all remember very clearly what a mixed bag of emotions high school can be. So to make matters worse, as if she didn’t have enough to worry about, here are some totally NOT helpful advice from those of us who’ve been there, done that, and would never, EVER under any circumstances, including the real-life invention of Marty McFly’s DeLorean time machine, EVER do over again.
Navigating the School
Since this is your first year at this school, you probably won’t have any idea how to get anywhere. Despite the sage advice from your much older and wiser sister who is now an awe-inspiring upperclassman, finding classes probably won’t be as easy as she says it is. At least on the very first day. In an attempt at logic, schools were designed so that similar subject classes are close together, such as all the math classrooms being in the same hallway. However, inevitably, there’s always an exception to this rule, on account of they ran out of rooms on that particular hallway, so YOUR math class will, of course, be that exception. Your math class will be in the Auto Mechanics building two miles away. Prepare for a sweaty jog. It’s a brilliant classroom system.
Finding the bathrooms will be most important thing to you. You will want to check your lip gloss regularly throughout the day, and for god’s sake, make sure your perfectly coiffed hair stays that way. Bathrooms shouldn’t be too hard to find. Simply follow the sounds of running water and snarky girl gossip. But, remember, avoid eye contact with the snarky girls at all costs.
Dealing with Upperclassmen with Superiority Complexes
Remember last year in junior high when you “ruled the school” and your main job was to harass the sixth-graders? Well, now, you’re the harassEE, my friend! Upperclassmen are defined as Wise Old Kids who’ve been where you are, but are now too jaded to give a crap. You can pick them out of a crowd because the man-boys all have overgrown 5’oclock shadows and wise, deep voices that sound like Morgan Freeman. The girls have all had boob jobs and are already starting to get crow’s feet. The main thing to remember about Upperclassmen is stay out of their way at all times. If you accidentally bump into one of them in the crowded hallways, cast your eyes downward in an apologetic way and mumble “I’msorrypleasepleasedon’teatme!!” and then slowly back away. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.
One of the biggest concerns for appearance-obsessed teen girls is Fashion Acceptance. Will my particular style fit in with the rest of the pack? Or will I stand out like a poorly dressed bag lady? Do I want to stand out or do I want to fade into the background? Tough question. Only YOU can answer that one. But my advice? If you stick to the standard unwritten dress code of every teen on the planet, namely any pair of jeans NOT labeled Walmart couture and a graphic T-shirt, you should be totally fine. Just make sure your graphic T-shirt doesn’t say “Mommy loves me” or “I love Star Trek.” The latter will attract every geek in the school like a high powered magnet. They will never stop asking you out and stalking you on Facebook. Trust me, you don’t want to start out your freshman year as a Geek Magnet.
If you want to kick your Fashion Level into high gear, that’s OK, too. Your older sister has mastered the art of Edgy Cover Girl Model Fashionista, so you are going to want to consult her on this one. Apparently, you think I am waaayyyy too much of a nerd to have any idea what teen girls should wear. Yes, it’s true, I think skinny jeans look like tight, painted-on torture-wear on anybody, no matter how skinny that person is, but, hey, what do I know? According to you, absolutely nothing. I’ll just stick to my stone-washed, high waisted 1980’s Gloria Vanderbilt plus-sized Mom jeans and shut the hell up.
Dealing with the Work Load
You’ve heard your sister and her friends laugh maniacally when they’ve said “…just wait until you get to high school, muh hahahaha!” So you, of course, have been dreading Homework Hell for years. But remember, they were all stupid enough (or is it insane enough?) to take all AP courses. Oh Hellz No, you know better than to mess with that! The important thing to remember here is, never complain to your teachers, or the upperclassman, about how much work you have. The teachers will just give you more work. The upperclassmen? They will just tell you things like, “Oh, you have a 12-page paper due at the end of the week? Puh-leeze, I’ve got a 3,401-page paper due tomorrow and it was assigned by email at 2:00 AM this morning.” This will scare the next 4 years right out of your soul. You can complain to other freshman about your workload, however. It makes a great conversation starter. Such as, “Hi, I know I don’t you, but will you please kill me so I don’t have to do 14 pages of Algebra homework tonight.” See? Very useful.
Basically, you are now facing four long years of the most work you will ever have to do in your life. College and the work world do not involve NEARLY that much work. Trust me, I know. The work world is basically 50% coffee and doughnuts, 40% internet surfing and 10% actual work. But that’s a subject for a whole ‘nuther blog. Relax, there’s no need to stress about it. You’ve already perfected the art of procrastination in junior high, so you’re already ahead of the game.
Lockers are Not Your Friend
Everyone secretly fears their locker, and high schoolers are no exception. I swear, I still have sweaty night terrors about my high school locker. As a freshman, you have good reasons to fear your locker. First of all, I’ll bet you don’t even want to think about how long those old wads of gum have been stuck to the inside of your locker door. And exactly how many undiscovered strains of salmonella are lurking inside that thing? But beyond the obvious risk of a life-threatening disease, the biggest fear that freshman face is NOT “what if I forget my locker combination?” Oh no, that’s SO junior high. The biggest fear is, “What if the LOCKER forgets the combination? This happens more often than you might think. No amount of superglue, kicking, cursing or duct tape will fix the dreaded locker with a memory problem. You will be forced to go the The Office to report your broken locker problem. The conversation will go like this:
Bored Secretary: What’s the problem, kid?
You: Um, I think my locker is broken.
Bored Secretary: Did you forget the combination?
You: No, it’s 234-54-6788.
Bored Secretary: (Annoyed, she has to go pull the file on your locker) Hmmm, that’s the right combo. Hmmphh.
You: (Standing awkwardly for several long minutes.) Well…it’s broken, so….
Bored Secretary: Hmmphh. I guess I’ll send someone over.
But of course, they never do. Because no one in the office actually gives a crap that your locker is broken. So, naturally, you try to fix it yourself with a monkey wrench, which in high school is considered vandalism and terrorism with a weapon, so then you get a permanent mark on your permanent record, which everyone knows will prevent you from getting any type of paying job in the future and will follow you until the day you die. Damn those lockers.
Good Luck, Go Be AWESOME!
So, Emily, as you finish this Blog full of unhelpful and sort-of terrifying advice, and prepare to actually show up for your first day of high school in your fabulous and carefully-chosen First Day Outfit, let me offer you one more piece of incredibly important advice: Always, always listen to your mother. I mean your mother in real life, not in this stupid blog. Whatever you do, don’t listen to your mother’s blog. This thing is full of sarcastic crap. Now turn the computer off, put down that monkey wrench and go practice writing English essays. Pretty soon you’ll be a Wise Old Pro just like your sister.