5 Lessons From a Boarding School Adolescent

It may surprise you that I, a teenage boy with an overabundance of acne that attends boarding school, think I know something about life. The truth is, I don’t. I have only lived on this planet for 15 years. In those 15 years I spent the first five crying about everything in existence, the next five playing computer games until my eyes deteriorated to an unexplainable low, and the final five, at boarding school. I know nothing about life’s challenges.

But that naivety is exactly what I learned from boarding school.

So, what does a smelly teenage boy with copious pimples and enough metal on his teeth to create a magnetic force field (which repels all the girls) know about life?

First, I must demystify the preconceptions about teenage adolescent boys and boarding school. No, I am not a bad kid sent to a boarding school/military camp for juvenile delinquents. Or at least I try not to be. And no, boarding schools do not have Quidditch or fight mythical monsters. Boarding school is sleep away school.

I received straight A’s throughout elementary school and was reasonably popular. Boarding school is expensive, and if I was doing well in public school, why did I decide to go?

My family is not affluent, but we are also not impoverished. My parents wanted me to attend boarding school for the opportunities it offered that public schools did not: nicer facilities, smaller classes, more personal attention from teachers, etc. My parents nudged me toward the idea, but they gave me the choice.

I decided to give it a try.

My first couple years at boarding school were tumultuous times. Mixed with a combination of being in a new environment away from home and being an immature adolescent boy, I frequently ran into trouble. The responsibility heaped onto my shoulders was torturous to handle.

Dorm jobs, wake-up time, making your bed, curfew, forced study hall times, limits to computer gaming and Internet usage, Mountain Day, Spring Swim Day…

It was a laundry list of responsibilities. I hated it more than acne itself.

This is how my first two years at boarding school went. I struggled with the annoying duties of being a teenage adolescent boy, along with the more annoying duties of attending prep school. My grades tanked, and I was nowhere near popular. My parents were angry for two reasons: wasting their money, and more importantly, getting in trouble.

I arrived at boarding school for the third year with a new plan: get in zero trouble. I hardly spoke. I did not say a word to anyone, including my parents. My grades improved, but I was invisible.

It was during the fourth year I finally understood what all the jobs in the boarding school routine were for. I understood why I was forced against my will to do these things: they were life lessons in disguise.

I had always despised mornings more than anything, and mornings at boarding school only added fuel to that fire. Already burdened with the everyday challenge of dragging myself out of bed, at boarding school I also had to drag myself out of bed on time, make my bed, and do a dorm job (vacuuming the hallways, cleaning the bathrooms, etc.)

However, I had loved nighttime more than the idea of no pimples.

Until boarding school ruined that love and replaced it with hate. All with one word: curfew. The thought of going to bed at a certain time was cacophonous to my ears.

The Internet and computer gaming had been a fervent hobby of mine for the second five years of my life. Boarding school had snatched that too, putting harsh restrictions on accessible websites and limited hours for video gaming. The teachers had confiscated my computer more than thirty times for not obeying the rules.

The final annoyance created by boarding school was the required outdoor activity. I hated nature for its discomfort and lack of electronic entertainment. Boarding school forced me into the outdoors like a fish out of water with Mountain Day and Spring Swim Day. On Mountain Day, the entire school took a day off from classes to climb Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the northeastern US. It was the worst experience in my life until Spring Swim Day, another boarding school pain-inflicting method. On Spring Swim Day, the entire school plunged into the freezing depths of the Atlantic Ocean to enjoy its wonder. The only thing I enjoyed was chapped lips and salty eyes.

It was not until my fourth year at boarding school that I realized the importance behind these torture devices/life lessons in disguise.

The morning and night routines taught preparation and organization. In order to start and end a successful day, one must be ready for potential hindrances.

The electronic usage limitations taught self-control and independence. In an age where bad temptations are rampant, one must control themself, including when others are not watching.

And finally, the outdoor activities taught the power of naivety and inexperience. One cannot go through life taking no risks or being overcautious. One must plunge into the darkest depths of the ocean, and climb the highest mountains, despite the possible dangers.

That is where naivety comes in.

In my fifth year at boarding school, I will restart from a clean slate after an excellent fourth year, equipped with invaluable knowledge.

Yes, I am a naïve adolescent with an overabundance of acne that has lived on this planet for only 15 years and knows next to nothing about the challenges of life. But I do know that the biggest risk is taking no risk at all.

Any challenge life throws at me, I will plunge into and climb until I overcome it.

So, what does a smelly teenage boy with copious pimples and enough metal on his teeth to create a magnetic force field (which repels all the girls) know about life?

I think you can answer that one on your own.

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