Rules for Life

Life is Better After High School, Kid. Trust Me.

This is dedicated to all of the high school guys who aren’t happy with themselves right now. The ones who haven’t been able to land dates. Dudes who may not “fit in” because they don’t wear the right clothes, aren’t “in” with the cool crowd, or refuse to kiss the asses of the popular kids. They aren’t invited to the parties, nor don’t shine as varsity athletes. They’ve probably been rejected, ridiculed and left out. These teenage years feel like a never-ending cycle of sadness and defeat. I’m here to tell you life is better after high school, kid. Trust me.

A Misfit in High School

For many, high school isn’t the experience Hollywood glorifies. It’s an awkward, emotionally-scarring time for those who feel like outcasts. Insults they’ve received repeat in their minds for years. Rarely do they feel comfortable, and almost never are they confident. Constant wonder lingers in the back of their mind questioning if they’ll ever turn it around and succeed. The concept of anyone ever actually wanting to be with them seems foreign. Sometimes it feels like an impossible battle, with no light at the end of the tunnel. Lost, afraid, nervous, anxious, insecure and frustrated; they are misfits, and high school is not enjoyable for them.

At some point in time during their childhood, someone known as being “popular” or “cool” made the conscious decision that this misfit wasn’t worthy of their time, and such began the cycle of rejection for the misfit. He was put in a category and then labeled and ostracized. His stock was priced very low, never having a chance to climb the social ladder.

There is no fixed reason why a popular kid rejects the misfit. It could be a wide variety of factors, including jealousy, elitism, fear, insecurity, or just plain cruelty. He may have judged the misfit based on his face, physical frame, clothing, skin color, perceived family economic status, or athletic ability. Maybe he just felt like exerting his power on this misfit as a demonstration of strength. The misfit was left to feel worthless and helpless, terrified to face the shame again. This can be a miserable existence.

being an outcast in high school can be painful

Life for Big Bro in High School

The reason I understand this is because at one point in my life, I was that misfit. I disliked middle school, and hated my first three years of high school. Being a late bloomer, I was usually left out, occasionally ridiculed, and lacked confidence. It’s clear I definitely did not “fit in”, and after awhile I stopped trying to.

Sadly, I had moment of realization about my social status when I was unable to find anyone to sit with at lunch. Panicked, my eyes darted around the cafeteria, and every table was full. Judgmental, condescending eyes fixated upon me as I scrambled to find a place to park myself. Time moved slowly and I legitimately wanted to disappear. This brutal incident lives on as a vivid memory in my soul.

Junior year of high school involved an incident which changed me forever. It came after a brutal rejection by a girl, who proceeded to tell me all of the things I had “wrong” with me. Looking back, it was all quite silly, but at the time it felt like the sky was falling, and it left me hopeless. I legitimately didn’t want to come out of my bedroom for a few days.

Instead of letting it bury me, I was able to snap out of it, turning the sadness into anger and motivation to evolve. Honest self analysis helped me create an improvement plan. Driven to improve, I upgraded everything I could control in my life, including self care routines, clothing, my part time job income, and my conscious interaction with other people. Instead of being shy and nervous, I chose to be myself and discover who liked me for me.

high school pain can drive future growth

High School Life Reflections

The one thing I wish I understood back then was that high school isn’t the end, nor the defining moment. High school does not determine who you can and will be. These fleeting years are merely the beginning of your journey, and most of the time it means nothing. Remember, it’s not how you start, but rather how you learn, adapt and finish.

You’re still living in your parents’ house, earning little to no money. Since you’re not head of household, you don’t get to dictate how you spend your time, and you probably don’t have a life mission (yet). It’s like an older version of being in day care, and trust me it doesn’t mean much. What you decide to do with yourself after high school is the starting point of your true journey. If you’re in the thick of it today, you might hurt and feel hopeless. Find solace knowing it’s just a temporary phase. You’re still a young guy with a ton to learn, and to date you’ve had very little choice in what your day to day looks like. Don’t worry, it gets better.

You might make some friends along the way, but I can assure you that you’ll make better friends later in life. When you’re older, you biologically and emotionally become set in who you’re going to be, and you gravitate towards people with similar interests and world views. Let’s face it, in high school, you really don’t know who you’re going to be and what your future holds. Realistically, you’re thrown into school with people who live near you. Unfortunately, you have very little say in which classes you take and what your daily routine looks like. It’s all very generalized.

Using Pain for a Better Life

Most people who know me today do not believe I was once this person, and in reality they’re right. Today, I am not the person I used to be. My evolution only accelerated when I left my comfort zone and made the conscious decision to improve myself. Luckily, I found something I was good at (hockey), and used it to build the framework for a social circle I felt comfortable in. Confidence followed, and then the knowledge, money and status. Now, whenever I sit down at a social function, I notice people gravitate towards me. This is the outcome of a transformation that began a long time ago, fueled by a pain.

Pain is useful, so carry it with you as motivation and energy to prove the doubters wrong. Take the painful lessons and apply them to your behavior. Life’s lessons can teach us more about what we should avoid doing than what we should do. Once high school end, all decisions become your own. If you were treated poorly, never allow yourself to be cruel, and always show understanding of others. Stop yourself from judging someone solely based on their exterior. Strong men demonstrate empathy, kindness, patience and accountability.

The world is a big, beautiful place full of opportunities and journeys to be taken. Your old reputation means nothing because you can surround yourself with new people in new environments and reinvent that image. Pursue any job you’d like, and enjoy spending your hard earned money however you please. Time becomes yours, and you can use it to train your body, mind, and soul. Survive these tough times and understand the best is yet to come.

Battle Tested Men

So you had a bad first round. Big deal. You will come back stronger to win. The main purpose high school serves is to complete the educational requirements for what comes after. This next step may be college, trade school, full time work or military service. All of these are way more important in the grand scheme of things.

To summarize, high school is your preparation for what comes next. The harder it is for you now, the tougher of a person you will be later. Being coddled and praised throughout high school will leave you less prepared for the harsh realities of adult life. Someone who is battle tested will be ready for life’s challenges. My misfit friend, you are a survivor and you are prepared.

Take it from me, a former misfit lacking friends, romance, style, money and purpose. If you want better for yourself, reimagine your life and take action to achieve it. Twenty years later I’ve got a great career, a beautiful wife, cute kids, money in the bank, and a tight circle of friends.

Waking up every day with confidence, purpose and drive reassures me that no challenge is impossible. I never let the rough times in high school define me, and I attacked adult life like a Spartan warrior. The world is yours, if you truly decide to take it on.

– Your Big Bro