We all remember what it was like to be in 7th grade—the awkwardness, the raging hormones, the futile contest for popularity, eating cafeteria delicacies like mystery meatloaf and later raising your hand for permission to release it back into nature. Prison-like walls trapped us in clouds of Axe body spray and the various mists of Victoria’s Secret. Contending with cranky teachers, unruly classmates, and a deep sense of confusion was just an ordinary Tuesday.
In need of relief after a long day at school, we’d plop ourselves in front of the T.V. and turn to a Family Channel classic, Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide—a beacon leading us through the murk and muck of junior high life. Ned and his cronies conquered everyday struggles with a spring in their step and a chuckle in their hearts. They’d laugh at the absurdity of their situation, and we’d laugh along. If it weren’t for Ned, Mozz, and Cookie dropping knowledge and providing perspective, who knows if any of us would’ve made it out in one piece?
But we did; we survived junior high. However, our moment of pride was short-lived. No sooner had we graduated than another harsh reality set in—high school was just around the corner. Alas, to the bottom of the totem pole, we fell. Like a pail of guppies dumped into a pool of great whites, we entered high school, a place where rumours circulated of “Tenners” getting swirlied, wet-willied, and wedgied. Fortunately for us, that level of cruelty was reserved for movies like Dazed and Confused, and high school turned out to be not so bad. Three years whizzed by, and before we knew it—our bodies adorned by those flattering gowns—we were marching across the stage.
And now, here we are, all grown up, amid university degrees with everything figured out. Well, maybe not quite. While we are likely to cringe at the thought of junior-high-selves and see ourselves today as entirely different people, there remains one common theme—bumps in the road. Of course, today, we travel a much different road, but there are bumps, nonetheless. We stress over grades, relationships, and careers instead of worrying whether our crush will compliment our new Abercrombie top or sit with us at lunch. We wrestle with purpose, responsibilities, and finding our place in this strange world.
Admittedly, we could still use a Ned, someone we can relate to, someone to offer advice, someone to help us laugh at ourselves.
Funnily enough, I woke up this morning and decided to be that person.
Together we will bushwhack through university with a metaphorical machete, with mind, body, and soul aligned, and hopefully, emerge from the jungle a little wiser.
But wait, hold the phone. Why should you take advice from me? Valid question. I don’t claim to be some sort of sage or own some mysterious form of wisdom, or at least no more than you. The truth is, we all have insight, and any single one of you could be in my shoes. Although I like my job, so, keep dreaming. But I digress. What I bring to the table is a lending ear, a sense of humour, and a knack for getting you outside yourself to see things in a new light. My mission: help you navigate university life with style.
By anonymous submission on The Cadre website, write to me with your problems (however big or small), questions, and opinions, whether related directly to university or not, and your story (under an alias to uphold privacy) may showcase in the next week’s publication.
Consider this column a cosmic gumbo of hardcore advice and lighthearted banter. Enjoy a generous helping of realism and, for dessert, a big slice of positivity pie. It will at times be chaotic, at times calculated, like a dance, because after all, is that not what life is, a dance?
And so, like Frodo leaving the Shire, like Neil Armstrong taking one giant leap, like Dorothy realizing she’s not in Kansas anymore, I dare commence a hopeful journey: Jake’s Declassified University Survival Guide.
Click here to submit your problem to Jake!