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02 November 2007


I guess it's bound to happen working with high school kids, but I was woefully unprepared the first time. And the second time. What do you say when someone asks you for advice and stuff? How do you avoid sermonizing or just plain condescending?

It's not like I don't like giving advice. Especially unsolicited advice. Those who know me can attest to the fact that I'm like a fucking battering ram with that sometimes. It's the solicitation, I guess, that throws me. I don't think it's intended as one at all, but I feel like I'm walking into a trap every time. I approach such situations with extreme trepidation.

My reluctance can be attributed to a couple things:
  1. My utter uncertainty that I'm really any kind of role model in a broader sense than my standardized test skills.
  2. The unshakable notion that I'm going to end up sounding like that sunscreen song. Seriously, what can you say to young people that hasn't already been set to inspirational electro-pop?
Still, after it happened twice, I started to really think about it. What do I wish someone had told me?

It probably would have been nice to hear that although you're going to meet a lot of the same kind of people in college that you knew in high school, they aren't going to be the same people, so they don't know you. You finally get to become the person you've been changing into slowly in the last years of high school while everyone you've known your whole life continued to see you the way they always had. I mean, I figured it out pretty quick, but I bet the last few weeks of the summer leading up to college would have been a lot less nerve-wracking if someone had just sat me down and told me for sure that nobody would know I puked in the cafeteria twice in elementary school.

Other things I've been saying are the kinda dumb things that I really feel like college should be all about. Take as many classes as possible and actually attend them. Go to protests. Join clubs. That kind of thing.

I guess the last thing I should remember to say going forward is not to be intimidated by the kind of people you end up with as classmates and roommates. Invariably they'll be smarter or richer or better looking than you. But you're funnier and a better guitar player than they are. And none of them hold their elementary school's cafeteria barfing record.

(I really wish there was a way to set a song on MySpace to repeat, because I've been clicking every 3 minutes for about an hour to hear Jaymay's "Sycamore Down" again. Listen here.)


  1. How great to be asked advice!! If I was asked and I had some time to come up with the answers, these things are important I think... for life, it doesn't have to be just for going off to college...

    1) Get out of your room and get involved. There are dozens of things to do all the time. If you can't find someone to go with, you will meet someone there.

    2) Make up your own mind. Don't do what everybody else is doing. Would you jump off a bridge if everybody else was doing it?

    3) Trust your instincts. If it looks dangerous or stupid or criminal it probably is.

    4) Study hard, have fun, meet people, relax, get excercise and eat right.

    5) Don't take this gift for granted. Don't waste your parents' money.

    I love reading your thoughts! JAM

  2. Kids don't want to hear shit like 'I've been there before' or what you would do if you were in their shoes. It kind of cracks me up to see how much people have forgotten about being a kid. Your idea about telling them what you wanted to hear when you were a kid works sometimes, but not most. Kids these days are different. Every few years kids' brains, like, change into bigger and better ones than the kids before them.

    Best advice is to be a good listener and if you listen closely enough, the right answer should be clear. It's always better to be an outsider looking in at someone else's bullshit.

  3. I would also add, never underestimate how much laughing can cure just about anything. Even when you're throwing up 2 (or even 3) times in the cafeteria...laugh at yourself and its pretty hard for people to make fun of you. It kind of defeats the purpose. Try not to dwell in misery. Laughing is also good for depressed days, breakups, anger...
    Never marry someone you don't think is hilarious. By the way, I love your blog:)

  4. i think the best way to help someone is to actually ask the right questions that will lead him to answer his own question in the end. Because in the end, its most likely that the only opinion he will consider is his own, event though he asked for help.


  5. Cool blog, would you consider introducing it to Fuelmyblog? I am sure our users would be interested in your blog. We are also working on a book project with Blurb where all our bloggers will get a chance to advertise their blog and get some extra coverage.
    Nice work ;-)

  6. Just a note to say I really enjoy reading your blog AND thanks for linking to such a stellar song!