Rule #1. Life is not fair. Get used to it. The average teenager uses the phrase "it's not fair" 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it so often you decided they must be the most idealistic generation ever. When they started hearing it from their own kids, they realized Rule #1.
Rule #2. The real world won't care as much about your self-esteem as your school does. It'll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock. Usually, when inflated self-esteem meets reality, kids complain that it's not fair. (See Rule No. 1)
Rule #3. Sorry, you won't make $50,000 a year right out of high school. And you won't be a vice president or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn't have a Gap label.
Rule #4. If you think your teacher is tough, wait 'til you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure, so he tends to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, he is not going ask you how feel about it.
Rule #5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren't embarrassed making minimum wage either. They would have been embarrassed to sit around talking about Kurt Cobain all weekend.
Rule #6. It's not your parents' fault. If you screw up, you are responsible. This is the flip side of "It's my life," and "You're not the boss of me," and other eloquent proclamations of your generation. When you turn 18, it's on your dime. Don't whine about it or you'll sound like a baby boomer.
Rule #7. Before you were born your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents' generation try delousing the closet in your bedroom.
Rule #8. Life is not divided into semesters, and you don't get summers off. Nor even Easter break. They expect you to show up every day. For eight hours. And you don't get a new life every 10 weeks. It just goes on and on.
Rule #9. Television is not real life. Your life is not a sitcom. Your problems will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to jobs. Your friends will not be perky or as polite as Jennifer Aniston.
Rule #10. Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could.
Rule #11. Enjoy this while you can. Sure, parents are a pain, school's a bother, and life is depressing. But someday you'll realize how wonderful it was to be kid. Maybe you should start now.