The best advice I’ve received is more of a constant message from my parents than a statement: they constantly remind me that hard work, not intelligence, brings success. Both of them are remarkably smart and successful–they both have PhDs and teach biochemistry and genetics at A&M–but they understand the value of diligence, and for years have ingrained that within me. My parents came from very humble backgrounds, solidly working-class families, and used the opportunities at their hands to pursue their goals and improve their situations. They were the “smart kids” at their schools, and even in college, but they never took anything for granted, especially their money. Now, as I am a full-time student, they want me to dedicate myself fully to my education, still having fun, but treating school like a job. In my household it’s hard to be narcissistic, though; any time I share that I made a good grade in a class, they say “congratulations, only nine more years of school to go,” referring to their expectation that I will pursue a professional degree or a doctorate. It’s not so much about pressure, as much as it is about knowing that if I put in the work now (delayed gratification), I can reap the rewards later. I’m very privileged to be in the position I’m in, and I hope to make them (and myself) proud.
On a completely different note, the worst advice I have ever been given came from my hair stylist. In the eight grade, he had this vision in his head of me with a stylish crew cut, and for some reason, I let him go for it. That was an awful decision on my part. It’s not that I have a lumpy head or anything; it’s just that I looked like Caillou joined the Army. It was bad. I got made fun of SO MUCH the next day at school. One of the athletics coached shouted to me in the hallway, “Hey, Kapler, you got cancer??” Like what the fuck? Who says that? What kind of adult… what kind of teacher… WHAT? And honestly though, it wasn’t even that bad of a haircut. People suck.