7 Lessons From George R.R. Martin For The New School Year

When you start the night off with just a sheet and wake up around 3 a.m. pawing desperately at the bottom of your bed for that extra blanket; when the leaves begin to crunch beneath your feet, and flip flops just don't feel quite right anymore; when summer blockbusters slowly slink out of the local cinema and weightier, Oscar-buzzworthy films begin to take their place, you've arrived at back-to-school season. And, although it's highly unlikely that your year will kick off with a veritable coup d'etat in capital city, or end with swordplay of the most devious and unexpected sort, you would be surprised at how applicable a little wisdom gleaned from George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series can be in the rough and tumble realm of academia.

Whether you proudly align yourself with the Stark siblings or think of yourself more like a Tully, when it comes right down to it there's a little something in A Song of Ice and Fire for everyone. So, before you pick out your backpack, strap on your walking shoes, and prepare for this year's seating assignments, take just a moment to consider some wisdom from the seven kingdoms that is sure to help you start the school year off right.

Winter Is Coming

As Tywin Lannister once so aptly stated, “the Starks are always right in the end,” and winter is most definitely coming. As much as we all wish those lazy hazy summer days might stick around forever, with school back in session summer is most definitely behind us, and the sooner you can wrap your head around the change, the better off you’ll be. So, pack away those flip flops and shake out your sweaters, the year ahead is sure to feel a lot less painful if you’re looking to the future and not the past.

Anyone Can Be Killed

Whether you're a high school senior strolling through well-travelled halls with a new swagger, or a college freshman striking out for adventure in a foreign land, maintaining a little humility in the brilliant glow of back-to-school can be a tough ask, but you would do well to heed the words of Arya Stark and remember that anyone can be killed. So, be aware of your own limitations, stay true to your goals and reach for your dreams, but don’t fly too close to the sun unless you want to get burned. Stay humble, stay hopeful, stay hungry and you're sure to make it out alive.

If You Play The Game Of Thrones, You Win Or You Die

So, why play at all? Don’t get caught up in the dramatic social maneuverings of the in-crowd — march to the beat of your own drum and you’re far less likely to become a casualty of war. Although I honestly, truly, and deeply understand how tough it can be to make your own way through the social wilderness of the school year, before you decide to take up arms and fight for a social position, consider the long sad saga of Sansa Stark and give the sidelines careful consideration.

If You Pass The Sentence, You Must Swing The Sword

All of our actions have consequences, and in the end we live and die by the decisions we make. So, before you send out that snarky tweet or copy off of your friend’s test in class, stop to consider the ramifications of your actions; a few extra moments of contemplation never killed anyone, although the same cannot be said of hasty decisions and bad choices.

The Night Is Dark And Full Of Terrors

Personally, I wouldn’t trust to the lord of light or any all-powerful fire-deity promising protection, but the red woman has got one thing right — the night is dark, and full of terrors…but there's light at the end of that tunnel. You’ll make it through some trying times before you come out the other side with a diploma in hand, but trust that like all long dark nights, the tough times will pass and you will make it through.

You Know Nothing

It can be hard to accept that you haven't got it all figured out just yet, especially when the facts of life are finally starting to fall into place. As tempting as it may be to assume you know exactly what you're doing, take a lesson from Jon Snow, practice a little humility in the face of forces greater than yourself, and maybe you'll make it through the year without a quill's worth of arrows in your back.

All Men Must Die

There will come a time when you make that gigantic, terrible, horrible, all-too-public mistake that threatens your very way of life as you know it. Count on it — it happens to everyone. The truth of the matter is, this too shall pass, and in a few months you’ll be laughing about it. There is no way to escape death, and there is no way to make it out of high school unscathed, but these many trials will only make you stronger, and when you reach next summer you will have emerged like Daenerys Stormborn from the fire, with newfound strength and maybe even a little magic on your side.

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