We used to call them Tree People when I was in school. They would hang out under a tree. They weren’t the popular kids by any stretch, but everyone knew who they were. The girls talked about how the popular girls were only popular because of what sluts they were (largely an exaggeration of the truth), how shallow and stupid the guys were (largely an understatement of the truth), and the literary merits of Anne Rice’s “Sleeping Beauty” series and Sylvia Plath’s writings. The guys used to talk a lot about which was ‘cooler’: Dragon Lance or Ravenloft, why it was against their Constitutional right to their pursuit of happiness that they had to dress-out for P.E. (their biggest complaint was against the color white, as in t-shirts and socks), and shouting the lyrics to songs from the Violent Femmes, Morrisey, and The Cure songs, all while trying very hard to look smoldering and nonchalant with their hair covering their eyes. I’m not making fun of them, believe me: I would occasionally hang out with them (I was the token jock in the group).
On the other side of campus was the jocks. There was always a sea of Letterman’s Jackets (mostly on the guys) and Cheerleader outfits (mostly on the girls), and the conversations centered around such weighty issues of hair styles, which athletic shoes looked better, and whose parents would be out of town so that the party could be properly planned. Were they shallow? Of course they were.
Of course, the Tree People were equally shallow. But having been both at different periods of school, the Jocks had an advantage when it came to success in the future.
The Tree People had a victim mentality. They weren’t cool? Must be because everybody else (EVERYBODY) didn’t “get” them. They couldn’t run a lap around the track? Running in circles did nothing to prepare them for the future. Besides, playing AD&D taught people to use their brain which was more of a benefit than playing baseball was. This mentality did a couple of things that hurt many of these people in work and life.
First, once a young person gets it in their head that whatever happens in life is somebody else’s fault, then any minor setback or major failure is a lot easier to deal with. Don’t get a promotion? Must be because “they” are out to get you. Get fired for attendance? “They” don’t understand that you have better things to do than follow a schedule. In short, “they” are holding you back from success just falling into your lap.
The second thing that happens is that these people abhor competition. Because of this, they simply don’t try as hard to accomplish anything. Why bother trying hard if all that does is take away from your individuality?
On the other hand, nobody starts off as a really good football or baseball player. Everybody sucks in the beginning. Sadistic coaches who are frustrated that they weren’t good enough to play professionally love that. When I wrestled, they would crank up the heat in a small room, and work us till we dripped with sweat. When I played football, they called it “Hell Week”, but it was a couple of weeks of double sessions of intense training. Many people couldn’t handle it and were washed out (I was, once), but the ones who did learned the value of working as hard as needed to attain a goal. In individual sports, they learned to always try to be the best. In work, these people “hustle” to get things done, and take a huge amount of pride in a job well done.
Does that mean that Jocks are perfect? Absolutely not. Many of them develop a sense of entitlement. They believe that everything should come their way, and if it doesn’t they can be prone to making stupid choices. They also tend to put way to much emphasis on the physical, believing that physical perfection makes a better person.
Now that I am very far removed from the High School Caste system, I don’t care if you choose to be a Tree person, Emo, Punk, Jock, Rebel, or whatever. You should be individual in your style while you can. But when it comes to being successful in work and finance, you need to strive to be the best employee, the best saver, the best budgeter. If you hit a roadblock, YOU need to take responsibility for what you did to contribute to it, as well as what you can do to get out of it. When you fail at something (I originally said “if”, but we all fail at something sometimes), don’t focus on the external. Look at your contribution to that failure, and learn from it. Hopefully you don’t repeat it.