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Life Without Lunch Money: A Tragedy.

For me, high school was a means to an end, the end being The Real Life or an early death. Either one was bound to be better.
Not that I didn’t have a little bit of fun in high school. I did have a little bit of fun, in the same way that I have a little bit of fun when I’m sitting at a funeral. Nothing’s THAT bad, right? No no, because everything will be OVER at some point.

I was able to survive the period because I was told, repeatedly, that, “high school isn’t even a microcosm of the world.” It was the sentence that reassured me, allowed me to continue moving on with the force of life, enabled me to resist playing in traffic. But recently, I realised something: HIGH SCHOOL IS A TOTAL MICROCOSM OF THE WORLD. It really just prepares you for the fact that drinking copious amounts of alcohol isn’t always going to be the answer to all your problems, because that would get way too expensive.

When I say it’s a microcosm, I mean it’s a micro-micro-cosm. Look, things do get better, unless of course you actually LIKED high school, in which case, prepare yourself for a nosedive, my pretty! Generally speaking, the nerds become cool, you stop hating yourself so much and you totally don’t need your mother’s permission to get a tattoo. But then in a lot of ways, life gets shittier. You have to pay bills, SO MANY BILLS, the stakes are higher and you have to cook yourself your own dinner. And most of the time, you don’t have the right ingredients for what you REALLY feel like eating, so you have to settle for bolognaise. Again.

The similarities, however, are vast. Allow me to elaborate.

Authority. It’s all well and good when you envision moving out of your parents home: not having to answer to anyone! Being able to go out as long as you want! Walking around in your underwear, and your underwear alone! GOOD TIMES TO BE HAD ALL ROUND!
This is not the case.
Answering to your parents? That’s nothing! WAIT UNTIL YOU HAVE A BOSS. Your parents suddenly become pooled in the same category as marshmallows and ice-skating parties: wholesome memories of a time less complicated. Your boss quickly teaches you that you do have to answer to someone, that if you go out as long as you want, oh, you’ll pay for it the next day, and… well, he doesn’t really do anything about you walking around in your underwear. That’s your prerogative, I guess.
The thing is, A BOSS IS WAY WORSE THAN PARENTS. He doesn’t pick you up from your “study date” after you’ve have had one wine cooler too many, he doesn’t do the household grocery shopping and he certainly doesn’t make you soup when you’re sick. If you’re lucky, he lets you have the day off WHILE YOU STAY HOME AND FEND FOR YOURSELF. And then he sometimes eats you for being so weak when you return to work the next day.

Cliques. Did you think you’d get to stop kissing ass to the cool kids when you left high school? Wrong again, except this time, it’s not just social acceptance that you’re after – it’s money and success, and let’s face it, that means a hell of a lot more than being invited to Jenny’s pyjama party. The “cool kids” are now all the people who are above you in the field that you aspire to be in, and when you’re starting out, that is pretty much everyone. Now, all that ass kissing? It gets tiring, especially when you have to hide just how bored you really are. This may sound easy, but after a few glasses of bubbly, the ability to be fake diminishes with each trip to the ladies’ room. Still, you can’t stop smiling, you can’t stop asking questions and you can’t stop pretending that you’re actually interested. But there is good news in all of this! Peer pressure pretty much ceases to exist, and this is mostly due to the fact that you want that beer all by your own free will.

Schoolwork. Long gone are the days when we would get home by 3pm and have to slot time in for that daunting task of homework. Now we might get home by 7pm if we’re lucky and then we have to slot time in for that daunting task of LIFE. Homework is replaced by dinner, cleaning and passion projects, and while the latter are certainly more fun that homework ever was, THEY NEVER STOP. There is no summer holiday, no specially designed extracurricular activities and certainly no gold stars to make us happy. And tests? They have become our annual reviews, and instead of a grade, OUR LIFE DEPENDS ON THEM. No pressure, though.

So I guess the moral of the story is that parts of life are ALWAYS going to suck, and there really never was any point bemoaning our existence back then because there are MORE than enough reasons to bemoan it now, too. I guess the trick is to stop looking to the future and start enjoying the fact that we’re young and wild and free, at any age. As for me, at least I can still down tequila shots until 3am and turn up to work the next day. Hey, the option is there.

words: Seema Duggal


December 1, 2009 at 12:30 PM So Now What? said...

All too true. That toilet ain't going to clean itself. And that money isn't going to magically appear. Funny how when you finish school you are celebrating finishing all that "hard" work. Pity it's just the start. Lubbed it x

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