The Huffington Post recently published my post, “12 Things I Learned in High School.” To read the entire post and some interesting comments, click here. It begins …
Yikes. It’s time for my 20-year high-school reunion. I have the wrinkles and the gray hair to prove it. Although I look back and snicker at all the keg parties I threw at my house when my mom was away, and how I always seemed to pass out in someone’s closet, what I remember most were the wise words of a few teachers who took me under their wing and asked me to probe deeper … to think long and hard about who I wanted to be when I grew up. I’m still not totally sure, but here are some of the nuggets I most appreciate.
1. Act as if you belong.
In 12-step support groups this means “fake it til you make it.” I just remember being incorrectly placed in an honor’s class. I sat there next to Tony M., a fellow average-intelligence classmate who I recently hooked up with on Facebook, wondering what language everyone was speaking. And Tony reminded me that by acting as though we belonged, we fooled Mr. Troha into giving us As!
2. Today can be the beginning of a new life.
My senior year, a few teachers pulled me aside and challenged me on my self-destructive behavior involving alcohol. Apparently some stories about the Homecoming dance had made it back to them. “What’s going on?” one religion teacher asked me. It prompted me to ask the hard questions and confront my alcohol addiction. I remember sitting up in bed one evening that year wondering if the decision to abstain from alcohol that day would really influence the rest of my life. Twenty years later, I can confidently answer that question: absolutely.
3. Never lose your sense of humor.
Humor is by far my strongest ally in the fight against negative thinking and despair. I try to remind myself daily of what G.K. Chesterton said, “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.”
4. Success is 99 percent sweat, one percent talent.
Take it from this girl who didn’t break 1,000 on her SATs. Perseverance. That’s all you need. Just as the Japanese proverb says, “Fall seven times, get up eight.” Or an anonymous saying “The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground.”
5. Gratitude and kindness will open many doors for you.
My dad taught me this one. As a very savvy business man, he stressed the importance of “thank you” notes, and expressions of appreciation, especially to the gate keepers like the assistants to the publishers you want to publish your book. A little kindness to her will get you in the door.