John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Advice for High School Freshmen

If I could give high school freshmen one piece of advice to motivate them to work hard the next 4 years, it would be this.

“The primary importance of working hard and achieving a lot in high school is that high school, fairly or unfairly, is where we develop our core opinion of ourselves. If we do well, we have high self-esteem. If we do poorly, we worry we will have to spend the rest of our lives fooling our bosses.”

It’s a self-image thing primarily.

But there is also a very measurable financial component that can be measured.

Over the course of a lifetime your success over the next four years in high school will be worth about $300,000. In avoided therapy bills.

jyb_musingsBut at the end of all that therapy you’ll learn that the people who did well in high school that you envy, think they are faking it too and fooling their bosses. They just believe they are better at fooling others than you are. That’s the chief advantage in life. None of us feel we’re up to the task. Except that one family member we all have who is a certifiable narcissist. (Or four or more family members in certain families.)

And, if you don’t have a have a successful run in high school and become a therapist yourself, you’ll eventually get to treat those students from high school who achieved the most. They will want to meet discreetly and late at night and you can charge them a lot more than your other clients. And they can pay. So charge them. It will make you feel better and finally realize they really had nothing on you all these years and are a bigger mess than you are.

It’s awesome when that happens.

Which leads to the second thing I would tell 9th graders if I could.

The universe has a way of balancing out in the end. So don’t sweat it if you aren’t able to take advantage of my first piece of advice. Just be patient and keep a sense of humor. And have an office space you can meet wealthy but screwed up salutatorians after hours.


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