Welcome to The Reckoner’s advice column!

Submit your questions about life, relationships, school, or anything in between. We hope we can help you out.

Why does Valentine’s Day even exist?

— </3

The history of Valentine’s day is actually really interesting. Valentine’s day is associated with the Roman holiday Lupercalia, celebrated in the middle of February to honour the start of spring. During this event, boys would draw girls’ names from a box, and the two would be a couple for the rest of the day (maybe get married if they didn’t despise each other). That sounds cute, but there were also festive traditions like men stripping naked and whipping young women to increase their fertility. Sorry Romans, I think we’ll stick to chocolate and roses.

I miss my friend

She moved schools and I want her to come back but I don’t know if she will and I don’t know my locker number or combo because she used to be there to open/close/locate my locker.

– baobao

While we may not be able to persuade your friend to stay at Marc Garneau, we can definitely help you remember your locker number in 3 simple steps.

1. Retrieve your locker/lock number.
The office will help you with finding your locker number, just walk in and ask. Give your student number when requested. As for your lock combo, hopefully you’ve kept the sheet with your lock combo on it. If not, well, there are only so many possibilities, right?

2. Write your combos on something you remember your friend by.
So when you forget your locker, you’ll think of your friend, and you’ll think of this token. It’s like she’s guiding you to your destination.

3. Put a life size poster on your locker wall.
For a sweet little touch; it’s almost as if your friend never left your locker.

If I throw a rock hard enough...

— Rock&HardPlace

I don’t get this “a rock” business, as there is only one rock, and he is The Rock. But, yes, if you threw him hard, I reckon he’d be very angry, enough that he’d probably hop on his private jet and fly around the world in order to slam you to the ground.

But, seeing that you threw the Rock so hard, perhaps he would congratulate you on your strength. Perhaps you would become best friends with him. Perhaps he’d even invite you to his mansion and introduce you to Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel. But then again, maybe he’d just hit your back, make you “mysteriously” disappear, and be done with it.

How do I say no if someone I don’t like asks me to prom? Am I allowed to say no?

— plsdontaskme

Never feel obliged to go to prom with someone—prom is about so much more than having a date, and you have every right to refuse a promposal. Just keep in mind that you should always remain respectful and courteous when declining the offer. Be straightforward and honest. There is no point in delaying the inevitable. Tell them the truth in why you cannot go with them. Although it might seem rude or blunt, it sure beats the guilty feeling of getting caught in the lie. 

Is it acceptable for a 17 (nearly 18) year old girl to date a 23 year old guy?

Does it count as legal?

— xPert

Love has no bounds (unless you want it to)! The situation you have described is perfectly fine as long as both parties are willing to accept it. Yes, the relationship is legal. In fact, the age of legal consent in Canada is 16, so no one else can judge you and say that the relationship is inappropriate or unacceptable.  Ultimately, you are the one that should decide whether you are ready for such a relationship. As long as you’re not being pressured by the boy into do anything you aren’t comfortable with, then by all means go for it. On the other hand, the best choice could be to take it slow and wait a few years, given the tumultuous lifestyle of the average teenager. It’s really up to you to decide.

I'm a girl, and I really want to ask this guy out to prom.

Is that a turn off/socially unacceptable? How do I ask him without sounding like a nervous wreck?

– prom gives me anxiety

A girl asking a guy to prom isn’t a turn off at all! In fact, he should be happy knowing someone actually took the time and effort to ask him out to prom. At the very least, he should at least be impressed with the courage you’ve mustered up. The toughest thing about prom is the act of asking, and he’ll be thankful he doesn’t have to go through that phase.

Promposing is tough, but don’t let it get to you! To stay calm and cool throughout, just fake it ‘til you make it! If you act like you’re confident, you will begin to grow confident. Worst case scenario, he says no, but hey, it’s not the end of the world. At least you asked, and it’s better to find out now instead of wondering forever about whether or not he’d have say yes.

I fully support the arrival of the Syrian refugees here in Canada.

However, my family members seem to think otherwise, and are very irritated about the entire situation. How do I convince my family members to see the positive side of things?

— Confused

Why might your family be uncomfortably with the situation at hand? Let’s break down several reasons they could have, and address each one.

Some general concerns with Syrian refugees are the amount of money that is going into the project, the security of Canada, and the number of people moving to Canada.

In terms of security, the project has already been delayed due to screening processes that are required before any refugees are given the green light to move to Canada. They are also given an additional screening in Canada, at the airport when they arrive[1]. These checks include health and security, as well as their permanent residency status, as the first six thousand refugees arriving in 2015 are also privately sponsored. Furthermore, Canada’s refugee plan for 2016 is limited to families with women and children.

While there is a lot of money going into the project (an estimated $876.7 million for this first year alone), remind them that we are talking about a human’s life, a life that we cannot put a price on. We are opening our borders and sharing our freedoms and values with those around the globe. But most importantly, we are demonstrating our Canadian values to these people, and showing them the kindness and hospitality which have defined us for so long. Canada has received praise from all over the world for providing care to its refugees. If your family does not believe in the intangibles, a study done by Giovanni Peri of University of California and Devis and Mette Foged of University of Copenhagen show that an influx of new immigrants tend to raise wages for everyone else[2]. Although it is a long term investment (with a big starting cost), it pays off as it boosts the economy.

While 25 000 may seem like a lot, it is merely a drop in the bucket, as 10 million Syrians, and counting, have been driven from their homes. We are merely helping out by providing shelter. Moreover, other European countries have been doing much more than Canada to aid Syria. Sweden has accepted 670 000 since last year. Germany? 450 000. Even Finland, which has one seventh the size of Canada’s population, has accepted 30 000 refugees[3].

If your neighbour’s house was on fire,  wouldn’t you rush to put it out, rather than sitting and thinking about whether the fire would spread to you?

Canada is part of the global community, and we should all be glad to be part of the solution.

[1] http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/refugee-screening-areas-set-up-at-toronto-montreal-airports-1.2691806

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/09/10/the-big-myth-about-refugees/

[3] http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/matthew-fisher-time-for-a-reality-check-on-canadas-generosity-toward-refugees

How long would it take for a giraffe to throw up?

– RealQuestions 

It takes approximately 3.4561849 seconds for a giraffe to undergo emesis, give or take ten millionths of a second. “How?” you may ask. Well, housed in the intricate, complex anatomy of the giraffa camelopardalis is a specialized organ, called the vomaris convictum. It is composed of tightly coiled smooth epithelial cells in a helix formation that exert constant tension released only when bile builds up in the vomaric cavity. When in action the vomaris convictum unleashes its power, acting like a spring device that thrusts the bile up the esophagus and through the mouth. The vomit, travelling at speeds equal to 50 mph, has the power to knockout the giraffe’s teeth.

I keep on thinking that I put my sock on backwards, inside out, or some combination of the two.

I would like to check and correct it but it is socially unacceptable to do such a thing in public. Help?

– Hopelessly Worried

Your problem can be solved in a variety of ways. Firstly, consider placing small sharp hooks on the outside of your sock. This way, if they’re truly inside out, you’ll feel them digging into your skin. Alternatively, you can wear really big boots and a gown. This way you can nonchalantly stretch your arms down and feel your socks without looking too weird. This also has the added benefit of allowing you to discretely invert them inside the boot. If all else fails, you can find a tall friend and hide behind him/her while you check and adjust your socks.

If your sock is on backwards, then I’m afraid to inform you that you’ll have to get new socks since yours are clearly ripped.

If you could get rid of one state in the U.S., which would it be and why?

— Donald

Easy. Alaska because nobody in America cares about it (especially those ignoramuses who think Texas is the largest state). Pssshhh, we Canadians know it should belong to us, anyway.

How come nobody just dislikes potatoes? Is there just some kind of mutual worldwide agreement that potatoes must be liked? - A Potato

Not everyone does. Source: me.

Help!!! My dog peed in the fridge once and now he claims it as his home. What do I do?

— Jason

Refrigerators are generally pretty cold, at about 4 degrees Celsius. This temperature is uninhabitable for most animals, including dogs. Assuming your dog has been living in your fridge as of late, it should have frozen to death long ago. Thus, your pet “dog” is probably not a dog, but in fact a polar bear. Your pet polar bear is probably just looking for its home. Polar bears aren’t very proficient in English, so it must have been confused when it discovered an iced cappuccino in your fridge instead of an ice cap. But, having entered the fridge, it must have noticed a sudden climate change and assumed it was at home again. Since it seems like the polar bear is bothering you, I would recommend calling the Toronto Zoo – they’d probably take it off your hands.

All of my friends are getting into amazing universities, american and the like, while I'm getting rejection after rejection. I know I should just be happy for them, but all I can feel is jealousy and self loathing. I feel like crying even as I'm writing this. What's wrong with me? How do I stop this? Help.

FeelingDepressed

Hey there,
Though you may not notice it, these feelings that you are getting are also experienced by everyone else, all the time. For example, I’m sure many students feel jealous of another student’s perfect score on a test, and then lose self-confidence because of it. There is nothing wrong with that, and there is nothing wrong with you! Being jealous of your friend’s achievements is only natural, and the important part is how you choose to deal with it.
In the end, you will have to accept that each person has their strengths and weaknesses, and everyone will have their own opportunity to shine. Be happy for the achievements of others, and they will be there to congratulate you as well in the future. Admitting your jealousy is already a big step towards making peace with yourself, and is a reaction that is much better than hate or anger. Take some time to think about your own strengths, and remember that you don’t have to compare yourself to others. There will always be people that are better than you in one way or another, so instead you should compare yourself to how you were in the past. If you’re improving, that’s all that matters.
Finally, remember that jealousy isn’t always a bad thing. It creates some healthy competition that will motivate you to work harder and become the better person you wish to be. No matter which university you end up at, if you work hard and believe in yourself you will be able to achieve your own goals. Cheer up, your moment of glory will come eventually.

I'm allergic to pineapples but I can't stop eating them. Help!

Pineapples

You are faced with a very tough dilemma. On one hand, you could follow your dreams, pursue the delightful culinary journey that your soul and body lusts for, even though you may – well, certainly will – fall into a dark pit of despair and swollen lips shortly after. Depending on the severity of your allergies, you may die. On the other hand, you could forsake pineapples altogether and live a life of blandness, existing for the sake of existing, drifting, lost, alone.
The choice is obvious. Eat those pineapples! Regret nothing! Live like a firecracker! Burn bright, blaze through, illuminate the midnight sky with your passion and ferocity! Nothing, not even death can stand before you and your love for this exotic, tropical fruit!

I'm kinda lonely and bored. What is the most YOLO thing you recommend doing that is (somewhat) "acceptable" at school?

 

– A Banana Cat Dog Elephant

To answer your question, why not turn to the answer to life, the universe and pretty much absolutely everything? 42? Ha. No. The right answer: pickup lines. Pickup lines are the perfect solution to your loneliness and desire for YOLO-type activity.

The best thing about pickup lines is that they’re so flexible! You can do whatever you want with them. Fancy something sciencey? Try: “Are you made of flourine, iodine and neon? ‘Cause you are FINe.” Into books? “I don’t have a library card, but do you mind if I check you out?” Need caffeine? “Do you work at Starbucks? Because I like you a latte.”

…And I’m just getting started.

Did you fart? Because you blew me away.
If you were a chicken, you’d be im-peck-able.
My love for you is like diarrhea: I just can’t hold it in
I wanna live in your socks so I can be with you every step of the way.
Did you invent the airplane? Cause you seem Wright for me.
Does your left eye hurt? Because you’ve been looking right all day.
Can I follow you home? Cause my parents always told me to follow my dreams.
Was your dad a boxer? Cause you’re a knockout!
I thought happiness started with an H. Why does mine start with U?
Oops, I lost my number. Can I get yours?
I’m not actually this tall. I’m sitting on my wallet.

Using these will definitely solve all your problems, mark my words.

Everyday, when I come from an exhausting day of school, I stand in the northeast corner in my room and breath heavily to tune out the voices in my head. Should I switch to another corner in my room.

The voices in your head feed upon familiarity. Do you notice how boredom and dull places make the hours drag and the headaches swell? The fact that school is such a large part of your life doesn’t help matters. Numbers and letters are stuffed in your brain until your mind bloats uncomfortably. Random and haphazard bits of trivia seep out your ears. It’s all very awful, dastardly so. To stop the voices in your head, you must become distracted.

Consider moving to the southwest corner in your room. This puts you in a better position for being blinded by the setting sun as you huff and puff your thoughts away. All your thoughts will melt away as you tend to your burning eyes. You will be able to forego the stresses and anxiety of the common man, thus opening the path to spiritual catharsis.

It seems I have fallen in love with my best friend...but the thing is, we're both girls.

She’s straight and I am too. Well I have been considering myself straight with an exception because I like her but I don’t like any other girls. I don’t know what to do because this crush will only hurt me because she’ll never like me that way. We are together all the time and we do couple things like cuddling and holding hands. Should I stop that to get over her? I don’t know what to do!!!

– GirlCrush

It’s really tough to say what you should do. You have to decide first whether the time you spend with your friend cuddling and holding hands makes your feelings for her stronger. If it does, and if you’re sure that there’s no chance that a relationship will develop, it might be a good idea to hold back for some time to get over her. You could also tell her about it and get her advice; she is your best friend after all, and would only want to help you. Other individuals who will want to help you can include a parent, a counsellor, a teacher or another friend. Whatever happens, be sure to give the situation a lot of time to work itself out. If you bring it up to her and things get awkward at first, know that over time they’ll become normal again. And finally, continue to be confident in yourself, regardless of who you develop feelings for.

I really need math help, but I'm too embarrassed to admit it or ask someone. How do I deal with this?

There is nothing to be embarrassed about when looking for one-to-one help. You have to remember that everybody has their weaknesses and strengths, and that is perfectly natural. Moreover, many people in the world find math to be very difficult. You are not alone in your troubles – take consolation in that fact.

There is only one way to overcome a weakness, and that is to face it straight on. Avoiding the problem is not going to make it go away. So, if you want to become better at math, you have to practice. It’s like exercising: work at it more to make your mathematic muscles ripped and powerful!

Teachers are a great resource. Use them. They are there to help you, and they’re not going to judge you, or tell your classmates. Remember that it is not embarrassing to want to improve yourself – it is respectable. Ms. McIssac can be found in Guidance and can arrange for a math tutor for you. The school has resources available to everyone, make use of them!

Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast?

It’s actually a safety feature – that setting tests the fire alarm.

Debating whether I should look into dating or focus more on school. Any ideas?

Focus on school.  In fact, you should be fully focused on school already because your future might just depend on these crucial few years.  Dating may seem like a pleasure that switches on and off from time to time, but don’t let it distract you from strong marks and an amazing application for college or university. And you may feel that you can juggle your bae and school, but take some time to think about what you are really willing to give up to be with your lover.  Whether it be money, time with your friends, or strong marks, you will end up sacrificing something in the long run. Also, dating isn’t a race. Don’t date just for the sake of dating, wait until you find the right person. You’ll know when you do.

On a side note, if you are looking into dating, take another step back and look in a mirror.  Will someone actually fall for you?

-No Bling Dear No Bling, Everyone in high school, of course, wants to keep a good reputation within the school community. However, going to expensive dances does not necessarily help you maintain your social status. In fact, what if something embarrassing happened at prom? What if someone poured fruit punch all over your tuxedo/dress? It wouldn't be very good for your social life, would it? At the same time, it may be worthwhile to join these interesting banquets and parties, not for the social status, but because for memories they can leave with you. These memories may just outweigh the amount you have to pay. Take on a small job (like delivering newspapers), or do chores around the house. If you believe that what you gain is more valuable than the cost of a ticket, you can always find a way to get the money together. However, always remember, many of the most enjoyable things in life are free. Spending social time with your friends and people from school doesn't have to always be at extravagant events. Take a trip to the beach or even an outing with friends at the pool. Money should not be an obstacle between you and enjoying your time with valuable company.

-No Bling

Dear No Bling,

Everyone in high school, of course, wants to keep a good reputation within the school community. However, going to expensive dances does not necessarily help you maintain your social status. In fact, what if something embarrassing happened at prom? What if someone poured fruit punch all over your tuxedo/dress? It wouldn’t be very good for your social life, would it?

At the same time, it may be worthwhile to join these interesting banquets and parties, not for the social status, but because for memories they can leave with you. These memories may just outweigh the amount you have to pay. Take on a small job (like delivering newspapers), or do chores around the house. If you believe that what you gain is more valuable than the cost of a ticket, you can always find a way to get the money together. However, always remember, many of the most enjoyable things in life are free. Spending social time with your friends and people from school doesn’t have to always be at extravagant events. Take a trip to the beach or even an outing with friends at the pool. Money should not be an obstacle between you and enjoying your time with valuable company.

What do you do when someone you care about calls you self-centered?

– #15

The short answer is to simply try being less self-centred. Selfishness is a natural inclination that we all possess as human beings, and while it’s important to value yourself, it’s also important to be mindful of others around you. Take a step back and re-assess yourself honestly.  You do not want to be a mantis.

The praying mantis, that pious green insect popular in children’s literature and animated cartoon, is an exemplary instance of animal selfishness. The female mantis, after mating, often cannibalizes, or attempts to cannibalize the male with which she has just copulated. We can observe a human parallel to the mating of the female mantis in the exploits of people commonly known as “gold-diggers”. Just as the male mantis will tend to avoid hungry female mantises for fear of meeting an unsavoury (savoury for the female, I guess) end, we as humans tend to try to avoid people who are just trying to profit off of us.

Be an elephant, not a mantis.

My girlfriend wants to take things to the next level.

I really like her, but I don’t think I’m ready. I’m worried that if I say no, she’ll lose interest. I don’t want to ask my friends about it, because it makes me seem less “manly”. What do I do?

-Anxious

Talk to your girlfriend about it! Honesty, trust, and communication keeps a relationship going. Explain your side to her, and listen to hers. Face your challenges together, and don’t do something because of pressure from your friends.

What's with the divide between TOPS and non-TOPS students?

Can’t we all just get along?  Wu-Tang is for the children.

– Chef Raekwon

Dear Chef Raekwon,

Your question has probably been around since the TOPS program began. But I don’t think it’s a matter of getting along. Personally, I think a part of this stems from the way the TOPS program is structured. Students are cored for most of their classes until the senior years, and consequently spend the majority of their time around their 60-ish other program-mates. I’m sure this is a common social phenomenon: we all tend to become close to those with whom we spend the most time, and high school students are no exception. In fact, I’m sure this happens among your friend circles too. Spending time together leads to shared experiences, which leads to bonding and stronger friendships!

Of course, individual variances do exist. A number of non-TOPS students make tremendously gratifying and meaningful friendships with students of the program especially through clubs and sports teams. To be honest, I think the two groups get along just fine. In a school as diverse as Marc Garneau, there’s always going to be different groups of friends. But don’t let that discourage you from saying hello to an unfamiliar face in the hallway– we might all be crazy high school students, but we’re not crazy enough to bite.

Why do my fingers feel immobile after being in the cold? Is it because the blood turns into ice?

They are not immobile, they just move slower. Time itself is slower when it is cold and faster at higher temperatures. At 0 degrees K, time stops all together. This is also why the life expectancy is longer for people in cold climates like Canada and Norway than in warm climates like Kenya and the Bahamas.

I'm terrified of never experiencing requited love. How can I improve myself to become a person people will like?

I’m terrified of never experiencing requited love.

As well as not getting married, or having kids.

It seems I only crush on people who are too good for me, and I feel like I’m incompatible with everyone. I’m also a socially-inept introvert. How can I improve myself to become a person people will like?

– Prematurely Ticking Biological Clock

Dear Prematurely Ticking Biological Clock,

It is very normal for anyone to be terrified of never experiencing requited love in the future. However, do not worry about this problem too much. It can be solved by slightly changing your personality from right now. First, be natural. Stay as an introvert if you feel comfortable being one. But as an introvert, go to your group of friends and try to only say necessary comments to people, including sarcastic and sardonic jokes that are necessary in that specific situation. Also, smile every time. People, regardless of one’s beauty, are drawn into those who smile.

Second, when you’re worried about something, don’t solely think; but instead, act to actually solve the problem. Write a list, brainstorm, analyze what action will be the finest choice, and execute that action. For your crush problem, I’ll analyze it for you.

You can see that you obviously like someone, and they don’t like you back; however, how would your crush know that you like him/her? First, if you’re too timid to naturally talk to that person, go on Facebook/SNS and say “hey.” Then, talk about things that you have common with. For instance, if you’re talking to a person that you’ve never talked to before, you should say something similar to, “Hey, do you know which questions were homework for Math?” and if he/she replies with the answer, say, “Thanks :)” After this process, the next time you see him/her at school, say, “Hi,” and you won’t be considered awkward by that person. Later, ask him/her a specific question, such as, “Are you going to _____ club during Wednesday lunch?” But, these questions should be asked after you already know that he/she is going to that club, in order to continue the conversation. He/she’ll reply “yes,” and you should say something along the lines of “Cool” or “Awesome, I’m going there too! See you there!” After about 2 weeks to 3 months, both of you would be naturally talking amongst each other about anything. When you’re still positive that you like him/her, ask that person out. If that person says yes, your mission is complete! If that person says no, don’t say “ok” because that will making everything collapse and awkward. Instead, say something like, “I’m going to try my best to make you like me,” and be natural with more jokes and less annoying messages. However, if this method, nonetheless, doesn’t work out after a year or so, you should just become friends with that person and find someone else to be your love. Remember, love at your age is deceptive. Take it in stride.

I hope this advice helped you in solving your complications.

I've always wanted to be good at singing but no one likes it.

I practice a lot too but my friends all say I suck. How can I make people like my voice?

– failedsinger 

I think that the root of the problem is in your name: “Failedsinger.” How can you expect people to appreciate your singing when you, yourself, have declared it unworthy? Remember that self-confidence is one of the foundations of success.

If you’re really serious about singing and are very passionate about it, why not ask your parents to send you to voice lessons? Yes, they are expensive, but your voice will sound much better, you will learn proper technique, and your friends will be satisfied.

If that doesn’t work out, maybe you should practice more often at home. If you know how to play an instrument such as the guitar or piano, try throwing that into the mix as you belt out some tunes. Even if you can’t hit all the notes, the accompanying instrument will soothe everyone’s ears and make your performance sound better. Once you practice enough, your voice will have improved and you will be able to display your vocals proudly (and confidently!) in front of your friends and an audience. Make them rue the day they told you that you sucked!

If all else fails, always remain confident. If you really like to sing, sing your heart out and disregard what other people say, even if those people happen to be your own friends. Singing is fun, and you have the right to enjoy it.  If your friends are being particularly grumpy about your singing habits, ask them to join you. Chances are, their voices are no better than your own — and if you’re all singing off-key? Even better! There’s nothing quite so satisfying as dissonance shared for amusement. Take pride in your collectively embarrassing voices! And if your friends actually have voices that are not-so-bad, they will enjoy the brief second in the spotlight that courtesy of your being tone-deaf .

Hopefully this will help you and your vocals. Perhaps someday, instead of putting you down and insulting your voice, your friends will be singing along to a different, more supportive, tune.

P.S. Remember that the shower doesn’t judge, and it never will.

Two years ago I was diagnosed with major depression.

Suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, the whole deal. Needless to say, it was hell on Earth for me, and though I did seek help from professionals, none of it really did anything for me. Lately, I’ve been getting more and more suicidal thoughts, the intensity of which (quite frankly) frighten me and I just don’t know what to do anymore. Obviously I know you’re not professional psychologists or anything, but what should I do? It’s gotten so bad that I just know I’ll end up committing suicide one of these days. Please help me. 

-xx

Don’t steal away so soon. It’s great that you’ve reached out in the past to seek help, and it might be a good idea to reach out again. What made you unhappy then might not be what’s making you unhappy now, so talking to someone about it could elucidate things a lot more than you think. There are lots of great, anonymous resources in the city–try Oolagen, or Kids Help Phone, CAMH, or any of the services listed here. And even closer to home, guidance is a wonderful resource at your disposal.

Otherwise, have you considered joining some clubs to meet new people, or trying out some new sports? There’s really nothing quite like the feeling of an endorphins rush after knitting the final stitches to a fluffy winter scarf, or coming back from an early morning run. Spend some time with your pet, or practice your instrument for a while.

It’s really good that you’re aware of these feelings, because acknowledging them is a big step to recovering from everything that’s affected you in the past. You’re right, I’m not a professional psychologist by any means, but I want you to know that I’m proud of you for seeking help. You know yourself best, so know that calling 911 is important if ever you feel at risk of doing anything dangerous to yourself or others. Better safe than sorry, right?

Does the friend zone exist?

“I just want to be friends”, “I like you but…”, “it would ruin our friendship”, three phrases that would make people anxious. Why? These are the typical phrases that indicate the “friend zone”, a proclaimed “invisible barrier” imposed by another person. The definition of a friend zone (by modern culture) is a situation wherein a person develops romantic feelings for another, while the other does not, and only wishes to be friends.

Why is it that when a friendship develops between opposite genders there is a specific zone dedicated to it? The truth is, there isn’t really a friend zone, these claims of “I’ve been friend-zoned” are usually another way of saying “I got rejected”, sort of.

When these “friend zone” phrases are being thrown at you, you are not being placed behind a barrier. The simple fact is that these phrases are driven by social pressure, which instructs people to be less direct, fearing that they may offend someone. Really what they’re saying is “no”, but covered with gentler –  and somewhat misleading – terms in order to maintain a positive relation with that person.

If someone did a few nice things for a person, chatted, and randomly asked the person out, and the person says “I just want to be friends”, this doesn’t mean that a person is friendzoned, it just means that the feeling was not mutual. Just because you are “nice” to them does not automatically mean that you get a date. A romantic feeling for another person can be created by several different reasons, but the criteria doesn’t only include niceness. It would be silly to think that we’d have to shun everyone because by not doing so, you’re a potential date for them.
Being friend zoned is just an imaginary thing to rant about, when someone really means “no”.

I read the article about the interruptions because of the attendance on the newspaper today and I like, totally had an idea.

What if we hire a bunch of fat kids, and make them run around the school collecting attendance from classes? this way, they can lose weight, and the secretaries don’t have to bitch about bringing the attendance down now. can we please get this done?

-fightagainstobesity

I have some good news to tell you! The Reckoner has decided to endorse this idea. We are currently working with office staff and the administration to set this plan into motion. Job applications will be coming soon, and you can certainly look forward to fat kids running around the halls in the future.

How should I maintain long-lasting friendships with peers?

I find myself constantly switching from friend group to friend group, and as I enter senior year I don’t have a concrete group of friends. I hope to change this when entering university next year.

– Lindsey

Lindsey, it sounds as if you’re the one choosing to switch from one group to another. This could just be a matter of not being dedicated enough to a single group, so you think that you may not have found your perfect group of friends yet. You may get that feeling the grass is always greener with a different group of friends, but don’t worry, that’s in our human nature. Remember that people aren’t perfect and the people you are friends with may be right for you all along. Try to accept the shortcomings of your friends, and they will learn to accept yours. Force yourself to stick with a single group and you may discover great things about them you never would have thought of before. Even if you get into a bit of conflict every now and then, that shouldn’t mean it’s time to move on to the next group of friends.

Also keep in mind that friendships are a two way street. Always consider your own position in each of your friendships. Maybe sometimes you make hurtful comments about your friends. Maybe sometimes you’re dishonest. Maybe you aren’t reliable. Always think about what YOU can do to be a better friend and others will learn to value you as a friend and keep you by their sides. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends (or even your parents) about what you can improve on.

Take a second here to think about where you want to take yourself. What kind of person do you want to be? What interests and hobbies do you want to pursue? University will be a fresh start for you, a great time for you to pick out a new, lasting group of friends and establish who you are as a person.  Select a group of friends that share similar interests with you. Sometimes all you need is a few big things in common with someone to become best friends, as you can plan activities you will both like and will always have a good conversation topic. A great way to start meeting new people would be joining clubs and sports teams you have an interest in to get involved with your school or university. Keep in mind that you don’t always need to spend time with a friend in person to maintain a good friendship with them; social media was designed for socializing!

Last of all, remember that change is not always a bad thing. Switching from friend group to friend group probably means that you are familiarizing yourself with a wide range of other students. More friendships means more connections, which means more opportunities in the future. Remember that nerdy kid you were friends with two years ago? When she becomes the future CEO of Microsoft you’ll surely be thanking yourself for making all those friends in high school.

Good luck in university next year!

What do you do if you want to understand yourself better?

– Mematilique

Life is so confusing. There are so many questions to be answered, so many anomalies and paradoxes in our supposedly simple world. We humans spend a lot of time and energy trying to get to know each other better, and we’ve all experienced the emotional turmoil that relationships can bring.

But what do you do when conflict is occurring within you? Alas, one of the most puzzling challenges in life is trying to understand yourself. Deep down, we know who we are and what we desire,` however the truth is often clouded over by society and peer pressure. We get caught up trying to satisfy the demands of everybody, but forget our own needs, wants and dreams in the process. Our hearts and brains are constantly at war with each other, and this leads to inner chaos. As Karen Moning once said, “The most confused we ever get is when we try to convince our heads of something our hearts know is a lie.”

The only solution to this problem and the one way to be truly happy is through getting to know your inner mechanisms better. First of all, trying keeping a diary or journal. It’s an excellent way to collect your thoughts so that you can understand yourself better. Journaling helps connect you with yourself, and block out the demands and distractions of other people and the world.

Secondly, remember that you do not need to surround yourself with other people 24/7. After all, your worth is not measured by what other people think about you, but by how confident you are in your own talents and capabilities. Allot some time everyday to do something you enjoy doing, alone. It’ll give you some time to think and reflect without worrying about what the other people in your life want from you.

In addition, start to become a more independent individual. Rely on yourself and not what other people think. Confidence and self-reliance are essential if you want to understand yourself better; otherwise you will be swayed by what other people think and say and you will not trust yourself with making important decisions and judgements.  Learn to believe in yourself, and trust your own instincts and decisions.

Moreover, find your passion! This is a difficult task in itself, but it is doable. All you need to do is try new things and step out of your comfort zone—unleash your inner sushi-making or snowboarding genius.

So in conclusion, don’t worry if you’re not the master of your own brain. You aren’t alone. In fact, you may never fully understand yourself because you’re always changing; our experiences shape our personalities, and as you progress through life you will change in multiple ways. For now, try new things and get to know yourself better. And most importantly, don’t concern yourself with what other people say. Be your own person—you won’t regret it.

My parents would be furious if they find out who I am dating...

but I don’t want to break up with my boyfriend either, what should I do?

Juliet

Well Juliet, it seems like you are in quite the predicament. Such a problem must be solved in logical steps to achieve the best outcome.

1. Identify the problem

Juliet, I don’t know who your boyfriend is, or why your parents would disapprove of him.  The first step that you should take is to identify why your parents would dislike your boyfriend. Is it because he is a Montague? Is it because he is overweight, always drunk and smokes crack? Is it because he is in a gang? Is he prone to fits of psychotic rage? Or perhaps it’s because he doesn’t shave his magnificent beard. Once you have figured out why your parents would hate your babe, you can either attempt to convince your parents that people like your boyfriend aren’t so bad, or attempt to convince your boyfriend to change his ways (and maybe shave).

2. Identify your options

Juliet, at this moment, you have two choices to make: whether to tell your parents who you’re dating or not, and whether to break up with your boyfriend or not. From this, I can conclude that you have four five options:

a) Tell your parents and break up with your boyfriend.

b) Tell your parents and don’t break up with your boyfriend.

c) Don’t tell your parents and break up with your boyfriend.

d) Don’t tell your parents and don’t break up with your boyfriend.

e) Drug yourself into a false death, rendezvous with your boyfriend after the funeral when you wake up, and elope into a happy ending.

From these five options, we can move to step three.

3. Identify your outcomes.

a) Telling your parents and breaking up with your boyfriend is the noble and correct thing to do. You will appear to your parents to be a honest child who wants to please her parents and correct her mistakes. However, being noble and correct is no fun. It’s boring.

b) Telling your parents and staying with your boyfriend is the rebellious thing to do. It’s akin to saying to your friend “Hey man, I know you really hate this guy, so I’m gonna make out with him in front of your face every time I see you!”. This is also a stupid thing to do. You’re practically begging for a good disownment.

c) Choosing this option is the easy and quiet way out. But, it is also the cowardly way out – like faking sick to skip a test.

d) This may seem reasonable and easy. But is it? You will lead your secret double life with your secret lover. Live with your secret guilt of betraying your parent’s wishes, with your secret fears of them finding out. Lie to your parents, deceive them. How many secrets can you keep? How many lies can you tell? Sooner or later, you’ll slip up. Your parents will walk in on you dripping hot sauce over your boyfriend’s body in a heated, romantic moment (is that what couples do?). And then what? Confrontation. Anger. Feelings of betrayal. Maybe your dad will sock your boyfriend in the eye. In the end, your parents will have lost faith and trust in you, and your boyfriend will have a black eye. A devastating aftermath.

e) Please don’t do this. Option E was a joke.

4. It’s go time.

Juliet, if I may say, I think you’re in a bit of a pickle. It seems that no option will produce a satisfactory outcome. No happy ending for Juliet. What a shame. Maybe you and your boyfriend’s death will cause your feuding families to reconcile and live in peace. Maybe not.  In any event, I wish you luck.

Please let me know how this works out for you.

How do I know if I'm being used by someone I might like?

I like this dude who’s a year younger than me. We talk quite a bit for two people who have no classes together, and he’s quite (almost exceptionally) nice to me. HERE THE CATCH. I am the president of this club. He’s made it quite clear that he wants me to make him an executive of this club next year. He also has quite a reputation for being a smooth talker and a kiss-a**. How would I be able to know if he’s genuinely interested in me (even just as a friend) or if he’s just using me? 

If you and your guy regularly talk amongst yourselves about each other’s life, what you guys do, and have friendly, funny, and private ideas and reactions, not regarding to the club that you’re in, he’s likely to be genuinely interested in you even as a friend, or maybe even something more. However, if he tends to try to fit anything related to the club, especially about executives, into the conversation gap, he probably found out that you were the president of the club and purposely planned talk to you for his own interests.

Here are a few bells that go off in a situation like this. First, you guys have a grade gap with no classes together; students in younger grades tend to not to interact with seniors they are unfamiliar with unless they have self-interests in mind, such as a promotion in a certain club. Second, you describe him as a “ kiss-a**,” basically a person who wants to have an impressive and good image towards others. He probably planned to become an executive of the club in question to acquire a certain image towards his friends and maybe his teachers as well, and could be using you to accomplish this. Third, you like him. This facT inherently clouds your judgements, emotions and feelings towards that certain individual. When you like someone, you tend to reflect on all the “if” and “maybe”s that may happen with that person and can easily become blindsided. All in all, make sure you reexamine your conversations with him and consider his possible motives before making any further judgment calls.

Why do my pickup lines not work?

I understand that most of them are a little too direct (Nice legs, wanna cruise in this jacked up Chevy with me?), but even the subtle/cheesy ones aren’t garnering much positive attention. So should I change my ways, or would you like to get all jacked up in the bed of my Ford?

– Country boy with a pickup line

You’re almost there, champ. Maybe we can take a lesson from nature’s gentle giant, the elephant. An animal of acute emotion, known to mourn its dead, and flourishing a tendrilous trunk which says “Come, let me love you. Come into my tender embrace.” Evidently the elephant has much to teach us on the subject of affections and how to gain them. To court the female elephant, the male elephant engages in something known as “mate-guarding”, where he will follow the female around and defend her from other male elephants. Similar to the chivalry so cherished in ages past, mate-guarding is an age-old, tried-and-true method.

Next time you see a pretty girl you want to get to know a little more, perhaps try “Nice legs, wanna cruise in this jacked up Chevy with me so I can protect you from rival males?” or “Hey beautiful, would you like me to fight threats to your safety using my abnormally long teeth?” Good luck.

"Do you think NASA invented thunderstorms to cover up the sound of space battles?"

No – beware the trap! For the government likes sheep but loves parrots more. Sheep follow and do not speak, but parrots trumpet the message of the government without discretion. You have – most unwittingly of course – become one of the parrots. The question sounds plausible, but it is the government itself which perpetuates this rumour. They are trying to distract you from the reality, which is that NASA is inventing thunderstorms to cover up the sound of space battles which themselves cover up the stage set at Area 51 where they faked the Moon Landings. And now you know.

Does it rain in Australia?

-17 “17” Mc17

It does, although when it does, for most of the continent it’s not much. More than 80% of the continent receives less than 600mm of rainfall anually. Only Antarctica receives less rain.

As this is an advice column, we’d like to advise you not to move to Australia if you fear bushfires, which are frequent in Southern and Eastern Australia due to lengthy hot and dry spells as a result of the low rainfall. However, emigrating may be a good choice if you are looking to begin selling all-natural filtered Australian rainwater in an attempt to emulate Vitamin Water and cash in on the market for fad drinks. Queensland averages over 4000mm of rainfall each year.

I am crushing on a celebrity. It is taking over my life. Please help!!!

– Lovesick Fangirl

I’d be lying if I told you I don’t have posters of movie stars and boy bands hanging in my bedroom. I’ve done it all—followed them on Twitter, watched interviews on YouTube, and read articles on seventeen.com.

Unfortunately, the worst thing about crushing on a celebrity is that they’re unattainable.

Let’s do the math: there is a 1 in 600,000 chance of being struck by lightning. But there’s an even lesser chance of winning the lottery: 1 in 30,000,000. And if you’re dying to date Justin Bieber, your competition is the 57,000,000 other teenage girls worldwide that are also vying for his attention (I’m basing this number off the number of likes on his facebook page).

Therefore, you’re probably more likely to become a millionaire than to date Justin Bieber. Which is basically the same thing.

So don’t waste too much time on it. You can have your fangirl fun, but don’t fall too deeply in love because unrequited admiration is never fun. If you think you’re in dangerous waters, avoid your celebrity crush. Or go the other way and spend a lot of time watching and listening to him—you’ll eventually get sick of them, crazy as it sounds. Find someone else to spend time with; somebody that’s real, and somebody that actually wants to get to know you and your personality.

Most importantly, don’t let your celebrity crush get in the way of any current relationships you have. It’s okay to comment on their svelte figure or dreamy eyes now and then, but never compare your celebrity crush to your real significant other. It’s irrational and pointless, and can seriously hurt their feelings.

The important thing is to remember is that your desires will probably never be realized. You can crush on a celebrity for fun (I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t) but stay realistic and remember that there’s a wonderful person out there that will make you smile way more than the boys of One Direction ever could.

What are some tips to reduce stress?

– Stressed out student

We all know how horrible stress is. It feels like way too many things need to be done within an insufficient amount of time. All the work on your to-do list can drag you down like a rainy cloud hanging above your head. However, do not despair! While you can’t completely eliminate stress, you can learn to manage it.  The best thing you can do for yourself in times of stress is remain positive. Never weigh yourself down even further by thinking negatively; life has enough obstacles without you adding on to them. So tell yourself that you can survive the massive wave of homework, that you will do your best, and that you are capable of being successful.

Moreover, do not neglect your body! You should exercise and reserve a certain amount of time for yourself every single day. I know what you’re thinking—This is crazy. I barely have enough time as it is, and now you want me to exercise AND relax?! But before you stop reading, consider the following facts science has given us: your body handles stress better when it is healthy, and it’s easier to focus when you are less stressed out. How do you keep your body healthy? You exercise and eat nutritious food on a regular basis. Your body is your vehicle through life, and the better condition your body is in, the more capable you will be of handling all types of problems.

Finally, I recommend learning how to manage your time well. This means don’t multitask. We all know that multitasking is: “doing homework” and being logged in to Facebook at the same time. As much as you love chatting with your friends and socializing, this can seriously impede your productivity.  Set aside a few minutes daily to dedicate yourself to the task at hand, and you won’t be left scrambling in the end.

I’ve heard people say that you can only get two of the three S’s: sleep, a social life, or studies. However, I beg to differ. I believe that if you manage your time well, you can balance your life and control stress. It might take some time to adjust your habits but you will eventually reap the benefits of a stress-free life (or as close to stress-free as we can get).

So good luck with whatever is stressing you out, and remember that you’re definitely not alone.

I like this girl, but she has a boyfriend. What do I do?

-Fate

There are really a lot of approaches you can go with here. Perhaps we can take a lesson from nature. The Superb Bird of Paradise shares a similar struggle with you. The species has an unusually low number of females, making the competition among males for a mate hot, fierce, and difficult. Their mating ritual displays an uncanny bridge between animal and human behaviour. The males first prepare a dance floor, scrubbing the dirt with twigs and leaves. Then they make themselves look impressive, bringing out their black feather cape and blue-green breast shield. Then they dance. It’s a really great technique that you can use too.

In all honesty though, the best thing to do is just to be a good friend and wait. If you really like her, you’d want her to be happy. Any underhanded manoeuvers will just complicate a relationship, and expose you as a scoundrel and a cad. You want to show yourself to be a good guy. All you can do is unfold your black feather cape, puff up your breast shield, and dance.

Does life really have any meaning behind it?

If you look at where we are right now, we’re in High School, trying to get high marks. Why? To get into a good University/College. Why? To get a job? Why? To support ourselves and keep living. Why? Is there any meaning behind this? Ultimately, we don’t do anything in life. We just life through a pre – determined path that society gave us, and we follow it until our dying day. In that case, is there any use in living?

– MasterofPhilosophy

No.

It's getting really hard managing my superhero life with other stuff. How do I tell my parents?

The Batman 

Your parents are dead.

I'm a stuffed mouse from IKEA, and I'm feeling really lonely at home.

I want to find another mouse so I can reproduce, but it turns out IKEA has stopped selling stuffed animals of my type. Help please! What do I do?

– Mr. Wuddles

Mr. Wuddles, your struggle is not unique. Throughout history, we have been faced with the loneliness that comes with the discontinuation of product. Take Frankenstein’s monster, for example, loveless and seeking a wife after Dr. Frankenstein ceased production of monsters of that kind. Perhaps an even more apt example is Adam, lonely as God stopped manufacturing humans. In both instances, the solution is as simple as the problem: find a way to make more. In your case, this is a relatively easy task. No ribs to remove nor human body parts to scavenge for you. A quick trip down to Spadina for grey felt will do. As for your concerns regarding reproduction, just be yourself and everything else will follow in due course.

What is your view on girls asking guys out?

Do guys detest not being able to be “alpha” for once?

-blanket 

Hey blanket. As a guy, I wouldn’t go into an “alpha” rage sissy fit if I found that a girl had asked a guy out. Some guys like to be “alpha”, while others don’t really care. The degree of “alpha”-ness varies between men. I believe that as long as the desired outcome is achieved , it doesn’t really matter who asks who out. Chances are, if someone is pursuing a relationship, they already know their target’s personality to a certain degree. They know whether the object of their affection prefers to be the “alpha” or whether they’re more submissive, and they may act accordingly. Lastly, remember, despite what Garneau students may appear to be, they are human, not wolves. Good Luck!

How do you get over a bad mood when you feel like it's been there for 5 years?

– Lance

Do you like hugs? I like hugs. Here’s a virtual hug for you and all the amazing things you’ve accomplished–combating life has made you a warrior, and you have the battle scars to prove it.

We are all warriors.

If I were to tell you that I have never felt sad, depressed, or discouraged then I would be lying. Every single person in this world has experienced melancholy because life is a package deal that comes with ups and downs. Often, events spiral out of our control and impact us in profound ways; sometimes for the better, and other times for the worse. In the end, we cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we handle it. It is our duty as human beings to stand tall, march on and soldier forward to fight through any adversity despite what happens.

However, if something has been ailing you for the past five years, I am afraid that there is a severe problem. Have you constantly been feeling depressed and desolate? This is detrimental to your well being, and as cliché as it sounds, you have two options at this point: you can either move forward and learn from your experiences, or live in the past and continue to suffer. Frank as it may be, it is the only way. Do not let something persist to bother you; solve the problem by defeating it or moving away from it.

Whenever I’m in a funk, I do something that I enjoy in order to take my mind off pressing issues. Personally, I either read or listen to music, but everyone is different. Talk to someone. Talk to an adult or friend that you trust, or even try Kids Help Phone, because it really helps to let out all the emotions that are pent up inside you. If the issue is very serious, I strongly recommend seeing a guidance counsellor or seeking professional help—never ever consider self harm or suicide to “make it better,” and always remember that you are not alone. Thousands of teenagers within Marc Garneau alone have likely felt horrible and unwanted at some point in their lives. Adults will tell you it’s a part of growing up, but your fellow students know better. We’ve got your back, Lance. You’re important, and your happiness is important to the people around you. Remember that.

You’re a warrior, and I wish you good luck with your battle—I have faith in you. I know you will emerge victorious.

I'm trying really hard in school, I'm studying, and everything! But I keep failing when it comes to the tests.

What do I do?

– Failure

The first thing to note here is that you are not the only person with this problem — a lot of other people are going through this too. The most logical explanation is that you are afraid of writing the test, not that you are unable to answer the questions. You study and you you know the answers to the questions, but unfortunately you hesitate and become reluctant to write them down. The most effective way to get rid of test tremors is to become familiar with taking tests; more experience is better. Also, avoid stress the day before. Be confident in your ability to do well and get a good night’s rest. Many high school students’ downfall is a result of a lack of sleep, so steering clear of this will allow you to shine. Eating healthy and having confidence are definitely factors in how stressed you are. So keep that in mind and these, along with sleep, will undoubtedly increase your ability to do well on tests.

I'm not really confident, and sometimes I'm scared to wear the clothes that I want to wear.

People might think I’m weird because I’m not into mainstream fashion. So what should I do? 

– Grey 

So you’re afraid of wearing non mainstream clothing in public because you’re afraid to be judged. The first thing to consider is how important you find other people’s opinions. Do you take what they say seriously, and worry about their view your life? Or do you just feel that being different is a dark, un-explored area of life, and that you’re afraid of venturing in alone? You need to sit down and think about this for a minute. If you are seriously affected by other people’s opinions then you need to ask yourself if you’re willing to conform just to avoid being different. This entire concept of “mainstream” and “alternative” is just another example of the general population being compelled to conform to a set of social norms. You should also consider whether you have friends who will support your decision to dress alternatively. If not, you should find yourself some. Having a group of friends to support you or being part of a group that share the same interests as you makes you feel part of something. And that definitely helps when it comes to doing something different.

I'm not a very shy person in front of my close friends and family, but in public I'm very scared and nervous to talk out loud.

I feel like sometimes people will laugh at me or won’t take me seriously. Sometimes I think people will judge me or think I’m awkward and weird. How can I face my fears?

– Hermione Styles 

Your position is one that many of us can relate to, myself included. You seem to be a person who actually thinks about something before doing it, however you are being a bit excessive in this matter. I would suggest taking everything step by step. Start making more friends! It’s not like you have to start delivering speeches off the bat, make friends one by one, start hanging out with them in groups at lunch. It really isn’t something you have to force yourself to do, it comes naturally and soon, you’ll get better and better until this issue will be a thing of the past.

Why does almost everyone dislike the usage of "y'all" in place of "you guys" or "you all"?

So what do y’all think is wrong with “y’all”?

A Canadian Redneck

Canadian Redneck, there’s nothing wrong with the word y’all but people can get set in their ways. Given that this isn’t the Southern United States, there just aren’t many people who use y’all in regular conversation. We stick with what we know, but maybe it’s time to break in some new words. You can start using yinz, you-uns, yous/youse, or ye to name a few. Drop one of these in conversation and people will be begging you to use y’all all over again. Sound good to y’all?

How do you know if a guy likes you?

– Strucked

Honestly, the fastest and easiest way to find out if he likes you… is to ask him.

Just kidding, I know you’re not going to do that, and that means you’ve got some detective work to do.

If you have any classes with him, try looking for signs of interest: excuses for sitting near you, frequent conversations with you, and, most notably, eye contact. If you find he’s constantly looking in your direction, it’s a good sign that he likes you. To be certain, however, be sure to look right back at him when you catch him doing it. If he suddenly breaks eye contact to look in a completely different direction, it’s most likely out of shyness, and you’ve got yourself an interested boy (an uninterested one would just continue staring at whatever they were they were looking at in the first place, or give you a strange look as a result of you staring at him). Just make sure you two don’t end up calling each other’s bluffs and creepily staring at each other for several minutes at a time.

If, somehow, you’re unable to determine your target’s degree of interest by meticulously studying him, observe his friends. Do they tease him a lot when you’re around? Do they suddenly abandon the scene when you two strike up a conversation?  Plus, you can always just ask them directly if you trust them not to tell your subject about you raising the question. Friends are always pretty insightful and knowledgeable, and sometimes, his friends will know whom he likes before he’s even sure about it himself. Nine times out of ten, what they say will be the way your guy really feels. Oh, unless they start using phrases like “the d”, in which case the jury is out…

How do I get senior girls?

– GavinXu

Call me 😉

What do I do if one of my teachers cannot teach?

I feel like I’m not alone when I say this and I’m scared I won’t be able to pass with a high mark.

– Johnny

Ah, the age-old dilemma of poor teaching. I have been in your shoes before, Johnny. It is unfortunately true that certain teachers just cannot teach. Some are unclear, uninterested, unknowledgeable, or worse a combination of the three. But before we consider the worst case, I first recommend that you approach this teacher: ask him or her about what you’re having trouble with. You might find that he or she will be very helpful in explaining the concepts to you individually. Many teachers are happy to offer extra-help sessions, so you should make use of this first. You can also explain to the teacher what you believe they are doing wrong, and they might be able to improve.

Now let us consider the worst case. Suppose this teacher really cannot teach or improve their teaching inside or outside of class. You still have a plethora of options, Johnny. You can talk to another teacher. You can talk to guidance. You can try to learn from a textbook. If your class uses one, that would be the first place to go. You might find that seemingly difficult concepts in class are actually quite simple. Now, there is also the chance that your textbook is dull or as ineffective as your teacher is at teaching. Remember that you can always consult other textbooks. You can find one at a local library, or you can search the Internet for a copy. The great thing about textbooks is that they are specifically made for you to understand them and have been edited and written by experts in their fields.

Is reading textbooks not your thing? Well, Johnny, you’re not out of options yet. You can find more on the Internet than just textbooks. Take a look at the vast library of  instructional videos on the Khan Academy website. Check out the Crash Course channel on YouTube and watch one of their dozens of mini-lectures (the TDSB might ban you from going to the Staples website, but you’re free to go on YouTube). Heck, you can just search the topic you’re having trouble with on Google and you’re likely to find dozens of useful results. You see Johnny, learning resources are everywhere, and the Internet makes them laughably accessible. Never in human history has it been a better time to have bad teachers.

Why do we have pillows?

– dt

Dt, it’s funny you should ask this. When I was younger I read a book once at the library about ancient Egypt. Apparently Egyptians used pillows made of stone – strange torturous looking rock headrests. These pillows were often placed under the heads of the deceased to keep their blood flowing. If I hadn’t been convinced of the ridiculousness of these stone contraptions already, I was as soon as I read that. So to answer your question, I’m not sure why we have pillows, but at least they aren’t made of rock. And if I had to guess, I would say for neck support, or maybe just because they feel nice on our faces.

How do I tell a girl I like her without making a fool out of myself?

– Zipper

Well, Zipper, I don’t think it would be possible. You have to just embrace it. You are a fool; a fool for love. Sharing your feelings puts you in a vulnerable position, there’s no point in lying to you about that. But sometimes in life we just have to open that Facebook chat, type in the preeminently rattling phrase “i like you”, close the window, catch our breath, and hope for the best.

That being said, don’t rush into telling her. There are a few things that you should do first. Most importantly: show her that you like her. Everyone knows the age old proverb that actions speak louder than words, but strangely few people heed it. Hang out with her, talk with her, listen to music with her, even make music with her. Out of the blue confessions of devotion don’t always go over so well, as I’m sure you are aware. Besides, if you can’t spend time with this girl then why do you think you like her anyway?

So here is my advice in a nutshell: once you’ve flirted yourself onto a plateau, it’s time to embrace your inner fool and tell that girl that you like her. Be casual. Be cool. Be yourself. Best of luck, my friend.