The following humorous but true “rules of reality” poster for teens has been an all-time favorite on my office bulletin board. It was written over 15 years ago by Charles Sykes in Dumbing Down Our Kids.
1. Life is not fair; get used to it.
2. The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.
3. If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss.
4. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping; they called it opportunity.
5. If you screw up, it’s not your parents’ fault so don’t whine about your mistakes. Learn from them.
6. Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, clearning your room, and listening to how idealistic you are. So before you save the rain forest from the bloodsucking parasites of your parents’ generaltion, try delousing the closed in your own room.
7. Your school may have done away with winners and losers but life has not. In some schools, they’ve abolished failing grades. They’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.
8. Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off, and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.
9. Television is not real life. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
10. Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.