As many of you probably know, writer Dan Savage has a project going called It Gets Better. The goal of it is to help gay teenagers who are undergoing persecution to understand that life will improve. It is a super-commendable endeavor, and it’s gotten lots of support behind it, as well it should. Hopefully the outpouring of support that Savage’s project has received will make a difference in the lives of at least a few bullied teens and help them persevere through a dark time.
Inspired by “It Gets Better,” I wanted to offer some advice to some other high school demographics. This is not a critique of Savage’s work, just an expansion. Here goes!
To The Math Nerds and Otherwise Twerpy Jews…”It Gets Way, Way Better”
Sure things may seem bleak now, guys. Your body is awkward. You’ve got an embarrassing white-person afro. There’s no Snark Team at your school to showcase your best talents. And, maybe you’re not actually gay, but people still call you gay. It’s a less than idea situation.
But here’s the thing. None of this will matter. You’re going to go to college, and you have one of two options.
a. Reinvent yourself. Start lifting weights. Get contact lenses. Drink more.
b. You’re going to meet girls whose parents made them watch Woody Allen movies growing up, and they will want to put their faces on your face. Look at the popularity of Michael Cera. Twerps are in right now.
So just do your thing. But don’t worry about “showing everyone up at the reunion.” Don’t be that nerd. The one who snaps and becomes hell-bent on marrying the prom queen, like 10 years after high school. Relax. Don’t feed into the stereotype. Find the prom queen from a different town. She’ll like you because you are smart and/or funny. You will probably have a steady job of some kind. She’ll respect that. Stay cool, nerd. It gets way, way better.
To The High School Football Team…”It Gets Worse”
Listen, when you live in a small town with a strong football program, or even a weak one, it is easy to feel like you’re on top of the world. I get it. People like you and want to be your friend. You get special treatment from teachers. You’re untouchable.
But here are the hard facts. Most of you will not play in college. And even for those of you who do, you probably won’t play in the pros. At that point, nobody cares how many touchdowns you scored in high school. You’re going to need a job. And if you didn’t plan for this, you might find yourself out of luck. Blocking and tackling don’t really shine on a résumé the way an internship at the statehouse might.
It’s not hopeless, guys, but you can’t put all your eggs in one basket, or else you’ll be stuck in a life of working for your high school sweetheart’s dad at a factory to provide for the three kids you didn’t even want, but you’re Catholic so what can you do. Just saying, buckle down and study, or at least befriend a math nerd or a twerpy Jew along the way.
Note: This is not about the football team from my high school. They were mostly pretty good dudes. But I’ve heard stories about other places with less good dudes. This is about that.
To the LARP-ers and the Hot Girls…”It Pretty Much Stays The Same”
Some lucky folks settle into a niche right away. If you know in high school that you’re down for a life of Dungeons and Dragons or Live Action Role Playing, then you’re set. Sure, you will never be hugely popular in the mainstream, but you’ll always have a clique to roll (dice) with. This subculture exists everywhere. And it’s exactly as popular/unpopular wherever you go. So congratulations, you’ve leveled off. Get a high-paying web-design job and use your income on comic books and pewter Star Wars figurines. Grow your ponytail out. Drink that Mountain Dew. Wear your “My Other Car is a Millennium Falcon” t-shirt with pride. You’re home.
Similarly, hot girls, you can do the same thing. Don’t get too into drinking or drugs, and you can have a good run with your hotness. In fact, now is a Golden Age for hot girls, because with the popularity of Cougars, hot girls can stay hot well into their 40’s.
Now here’s the thing. Don’t overestimate your hotness. You have to live within your means. This is crucial. If you start thinking: “I was the third hottest girl in my hometown of 75,00! I’m going to Los Angeles to be in the pictures!” you are wrong. First of all, no one calls them “the pictures” anymore. People will let it slide because you are hot. But they will judge you internally. Second of all, hot girls from all over move to LA to get their start in movies. If you are not exceptionally, undeniably hot or exceptionally, undeniably talented, you’re going to end up in porn. There. I said it. So don’t worry about “making it” and sharing your hotitude with the world. Be the hottest hairdresser in town. Or the hottest nurse in the intensive care unit. Or the hottest governor (am I right, Sarah Palin?). Hot isn’t like football. It doesn’t take up all your time and energy. So you can develop other skills. Choose wisely, hot girls.