Back to

Back-To-School Wisdom For My Former Self: Day 4

by Sam Kemmis

Returning to school was always a stressful time for me, because I was a half-witted ball of neuroses. If I could go back and visit my former self, I would say: "Sam: Cool the f%$* out, buddy." In that spirit, I've written a series of letters to my former schoolboy self, providing heartfelt advice for the new year. The first series of letters can be found here, day two is here and yesterday's letters are right here

Today's letters: The Dork Ages (9th through 10th grade)

9th Grade:

Listen, gutterpunk: Play to your strengths.

There's a principle in economics called "Comparative Advantage," which basically means that some entities (countries, companies, individuals) are able to produce things more efficiently than others. Grapes are easier to grow in Italy than they are in Canada, for instance, so Italy should grow more wine and Canada shouldn't really bother.

Sorry for the educational tangent there, but here's the lowdown: Don't try to accomplish things that you're socially, intellectually, and physically unsuited for. Being "cool" or "liked" is not really your comparative advantage, so don't sink a bunch of resources into it. Your strengths mostly revolve around "innocuousness" at this point. That is, not attracting any attention for anything exceptional.

You're becoming a man or something, which means you need to start following some very basic adult principles: Wear deodorant. Don't just sniff up snot interminably. Look people in the eye. Don't be a punk.

10th Grade:

Listen, homunculus: Explain to me exactly why it's embarrassing to ride your bike to school.

I'm turning the tables on this one and making YOU write a letter to your FUTURE self explaining the twisted logic behind insisting on getting a ride to school because you're too embarrassed to ride your bike anymore.

So go ahead. What, do you think somebody might see you and think that you've clearly chosen the most convenient way to travel the one mile to school? Will the girls who already avoid you like the plague start avoiding you like the…worse plague? What is it, buddy?

I expect the letter on my desk yesterday. That's not hyperbole: With all this time-travel it should be no problem.

Check in tomorrow for the final installment with Grades 11-12. And write your own suggestions to your former self in the comments, because, y'know, this is a blog and stuff.