5 Things You Don't Learn About High School Until Too Late

#2. Pep Rallies Are Commercials

I'm guessing that a good chunk of our audience already went through high school thinking sports were lame and pointless. Or at least they thought that about the hype that surrounds sports -- the whole school stopping everything for homecoming, grown men who don't even have kids on the team showing up at the games and screaming their heads off, banners and decorations around town celebrating some victory or other. Well, there's a reason for all that.

"This totally won't be the last time a whole room of people celebrates our ability to throw a ball."

Take pep rallies, for instance. Most pep rallies are phrased as "We're all here to get our team pumped up and ready for tonight's game." But does it make sense to pull hundreds of people out of class to cheer for 10 basketball players several hours before the game even starts? The reason it doesn't is because what they're saying isn't entirely the truth. It's not so much about "team spirit" as it is "please buy a ticket and some popcorn and some sodas and some team merchandise." They're not trying to get the team pumped up. They're trying to get you pumped up, because the games need to make money.

"I'm worth a fortune to everyone but me."

That's most of the reason sports teams still exist. Forget about "it promotes healthy competition" or "it teaches the value of teamwork." That may be true for the dozen or so guys on the court or field or diamond, but it means nothing to the several hundred (or several thousand, if you live in a big city) people in the bleachers, looking at their watches and waiting for that last bell to ring. No, sports are still around because they bring money not only to the school, but to the entire town.

They're not doing it because they're evil, greedy corporate scumbags. They're doing it because public schools regularly get financially screwed by the state, and if they want to make any of their cut funds back, they have to do it where they can: sports, dances, candy bar sales, black market gun running.

"I guess 10 dollars isn't too bad for a candy bar if it helps some kids."

If I Had to Go Back ...

I'd demand a speaking role in the pep rally. "Alright! Yeah! How are we all doin' this afternoon? By round of applause, who's all going to the game tonight? That doesn't sound like everyone -- looks like we have a few racists in the audience, am I right, coach? Maybe we should change the team name to 'The Racists' so we can get some of these people out there to show their team some support. But you know I kid, coach. Hey, speaking of kids, by round of applause, who here is pregnant? I don't see you clapping, Sarah Greene!"

#1. Nobody Has Any Clue What They're Talking About

Everybody has an opinion, and never in my life have I heard people so eager to express those opinions than when I was in high school. The reason is fairly simple. For the first 15 years, you've been shaped and molded by your environment. Everything about your life has been influenced by the people you know and respect -- even the really stupid ones. Once you step into your teenage years, biology switches gears and you start to think for yourself. It's nature's way of grabbing you by the neck and suplexing you out of the nest.

"I might risk death in the Marine Corps, but at least I won't have to do any dishes."

Your brain kicks into overdrive with swarms of brand new thoughts that seem so unique and interesting. Every other day you have a new epiphany. You want to share these revelations with everyone you know, because for the first time, you're seeing the world for what it really is, and it seems like everybody else is blind to it. "Why is she listening to that song? Can she not hear how much it sucks? I have to tell her right now; otherwise, how will she ever know? I have to save her!"

Like many of these examples, the resulting annoyance isn't your fault. If you haven't learned the following by now, you will very soon: Nature has horrible timing. Just ask the 12-year-old with the horrified look on his face why he can't walk up to the chalkboard. In the case of opinionated teens, the bad timing comes in the form of the thoughts coming to you before the experience. Your new ability to process information and form opinions based on interaction with your peers hits you right while you're still in that high school bubble, sealed up with the ring of people you grew up with. You won't realize how skewed a picture of the world you have until five years later, when even your opinion on opinions will turn 180 degrees.

Soon she'll be lecturing her own kids about maxing out credit cards on music downloads.

Eventually, you find that the opinions you used to have weren't actually your opinions at all, but rather a soupy puddle of other people's regurgitated ideas that sounded cool at the time. That doesn't make you a blind follower. It makes you human. We all go through it. It's part of growing up. If we didn't understand it, none of us would have ever made it to adulthood, because society would have set us on fire long before puberty.

So with that idea in mind, apply it to every person in your entire school, and then try to step back out of the picture and see it with neutral eyes. In the broad picture, everybody has been doing the same exact thing as everyone else for the last 15 years. Everything has revolved around school and building what little social life they can when they're not in class. Because of that, nobody has any more experience than you. Not in any measurable, meaningful way.

Except for that one kid whose dad totally let him party in Vegas.

Since opinions are so tightly bound to experience, it means that every one of their sentences that makes you roll your eyes carries the same exact weight as your own. But don't let that get you down. A few years after graduation, it'll all make sense. Maybe you can pass this article along to your own teenage relatives and watch them roll their eyes. You'll get a good chuckle out of it, and then you can sit back and watch the cycle start all over again with them.

If I Had to Go Back ...

Recently, the Japanese developed a sort of audio gun that makes people stop talking whether they want to or not. I'd never stop using it.

They'd better sell an extended battery.

For more Cheese, check out 5 Ways to Avoid Your Terrible Parents' Mistakes and The 4 Most Important Things to Know as a Gamer Parent.

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John Cheese

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