I have an extensive history of working with teenagers. Yes, I am allowed to say “extensive” in reference to my own life experiences even though I am younger than New Coke (I totally am. Google it).

In the long years (shut it) that have passed since high school, and in observing the habits of the contemporary teenager, I gathered some bits of wisdom to share. And I’m still young enough that my advice is actually relevant. WHAT now? Yeah. Boom. Face.

(Aside to any contemporary teenager reading this: I used that right, didn’t I? Face? Yeah, I did. Face.)

Here we go, completely biased and overly opinionated advice/commands/random thoughts on how to survive high school:

1.) Listen to your parents. Didn’t see that coming, did you? Anyway, listen to them. They might be wrong anywhere from 25-75% of the time but that means they are RIGHT 25-75% of the time. So why not hedge your bets? Yes, that math makes sense. Stop thinking about it. Move on.

2.) School does not exist to torture you for eight hours of the day. Torturing people requires a lot of energy and honestly, you’re not worth that. Educating is much easier and you ARE worth that.

3.) If you learn nothing else in high school, make sure you learn how to write a decent paper. In my current job, we require actual adults to write actual papers in order to give them stuff. The people who don’t write well don’t get the stuff. Simple as that.

4.) Do not put all your hopes on a sports scholarship. They are rare and hard to get. Like unicorns. You have a better chance of snatching gobs of smaller academic scholarships than landing the golden sports ticket.

5.) Don’t take both the ACT’s and the SAT’s. Pick one and stop sweating standardized tests.

6.) If you pass the ACT’s or SAT’s, don’t take them again. Unless you missed the top score by a sneeze and you are aiming for a National Merit scholarship, it’s not worth sitting through those tests multiple times. Colleges just want to see that you passed.

7.) Teachers can ALWAYS tell when you increase the margins of your paper, even by a quarter of an inch. You’re not the first person to think of this. You are not clever. Stop it.

8.) You can’t cite Wikipedia as a source. You just can’t. You CAN, however, scroll to the bottom of the Wikipedia page and see where THEY got THEIR sources.

9.) If you can’t remember to put your name on your papers by now…you have problems. Maybe keep an open wound and drip blood on all your assignments so they can be identified by DNA matching. No, don’t really do that. That’s gross. Put your name on your stuff.

10.) Try any and all of the school stuff that sounds even remotely interesting, even if you’re shy about it. If it’s great, then awesome, you have a new hobby and you found out you’re good at something unexpected. If it sucks, you can quit and have something to brood over until you try the next thing (see The OC for tips on brooding).

11.) That girl/guy you have liked FOREVER and won’t give you a chance does not like you back. That doesn’t mean that said guy/girl is evil. It doesn’t mean that said girl/guy is stupid. It doesn’t mean that said guy/girl just doesn’t see how special you are and if he/she just got know you blah blah blah. It means you’re not compatible. That’s all it is. It’s no one’s fault. There is no one to blame.

12.) No relationship works out until one does. Remember this one for college and beyond.

13.) On average, high school relationships ought to top out at about three months. Have fun, avoid drama, and give yourself a chance to figure out what you want out of a significant other.

14.) Become absolutely obsessed over at least one band/singer/musician/something musical. You will never love music like the music you loved in high school.

15.) I don’t recommend taking up coffee until at least the age of 16.

16.) It is entirely possible to go through adolescence without ingesting a single drop from an alcoholic beverage. I did. You’re welcome, Mom.

17.) Have a summer job once you’re old enough to work. Don’t keep a job through the school year unless you’re a senior with a short class schedule.

18.) Your emotions are valid. They are VALID. Period.

19.) It gets better. It really does. It gets so much better.

20.) When in doubt, car dance.