1. Bonding and making friends...in detention.
Detention sucks. Has sucked. Will always suck.
But wouldn't it be great if you had to do detention and left with a new outlook on life, a new understanding of the people you usually never had any contact with, and a feeling that you were actually allowed to be yourself, if only for a few hours, among strangers?
Don't try it. This only happens in the movies.
2. Feeling like an outsider and being able to summon supernatural powers to gain popularity and influence.
On behalf of all those who wore all black to school and never made eye contact with anyone, I submit that while I often wished that I had some kind of supernatural power, neither I nor my friends ever summoned The Ancient Ones to grant us influence and popularity.
If I had, I totally would have gone to prom instead of hanging out at a bus stop and watching the cool kids drive by.
In the meantime, just ignore the haters. In ten years they'll be telling you how much they admired you. Seriously.
3. Neatly resolved love triangles: He loves her...
But she loves him.
So he gives up, but then he gets noticed at the prom by HER.
It would be great if you were rewarded for letting go of the best friend that you recklessly fell in love with. It would be even better if that reward came during
the long dark night of the soul the prom.
But it usually doesn't happen that way.
What does happen is you figure out that there are actually people who find you attractive, who like you for you, and that loving someone who loves you back is much better than the agony of unrequited affection.
4. Cinderella stories.
The problem with Cinderella stories in high school movies is that they're dependent on the high school social hierarchies that can make adolescence totally miserable. What people end up taking away from them is that in order to be liked — and in high school, being liked is synonymous with being popular — you have to conform to standards you may not even care about.
People who like you don't want to change you. They certainly don't make bets to see whether or not they can.
If you want to change, change. Whether it's the way you dress or the people you hang out with, do what you think is best. Just don't wait around for varsity Prince Charming to take pity on you and mold you into the "perfect" girlfriend.
Chances are there's already someone who likes you as you are.
(Cheers, Jake Ryan.)
5. Sudden rises to power.
This is like the male version of the Cinderella story. A guy does something* and suddenly everyone likes him. He somehow retains all of his humility and old friends and goes on to make sweeping changes throughout the school and his community.
The best thing about this is that sometimes it feels like it's possible: there are moments when you feel like you could actually do something big enough and cool enough to be recognized for it.
And you know what? You never know. But don't be kind or do good for the sake of recognition or popularity. Do it for its own sake: do it because people will recognize the goodness of it and strive to emulate it.
*We realize that Charlie Bartlett (pictured above) had good intentions, but please... Do not become a drug dealer. You will go to jail.
6. Spontaneous outbursts of synchronized song and dance.
High school might be a better place if more musicals suddenly broke out, especially during assemblies.
7. Epic mansion parties that look more like music festivals.
Every party in high school movies always has:
1. A pool at a huge house where the hottest people are in various states of undress.
2. Approximately $4,000,000 worth of booze, half of which is sprayed everywhere.
3. Someone accidentally (or purposefully) spilling a drink on someone, usually a female and usually red wine.
4. Complete and total debauchery involving the partial or total destruction of the house and yard with at least one person going completely crazy.
5. A "day after" scene where the mess looks like it was caused by an airstrike and
a) is miraculously cleaned up before the parents get home, or
b) is discovered by the incredulous parents who somehow UNDERREACT to the ruin.
Now, of those five things, can you guess which two are most likely to be present at an actual party?
That's right: #3 and #4.
8. Teachers who know exactly how to relate to you and exactly what to say.
They do exist, they're just very rare. If you can find the ones that remember what it was like to be sitting where you are, who passionately care about what they do and who manage to navigate the bureaucracies that often force them to teach in ways that are both counterintuitive and counterproductive... Count yourself lucky.
If you're still in high school and you hate it, hang in there: all of us survived it. You can too. If you love it, enjoy it while it lasts, because it doesn't last long.
Please share this with your friends.