There is a lot we can learn from post-apocalyptic survival movies.

#1 The "I never told you how much I love you" scene.

She is dying in a puddle of blood and goo. Some of it is her's, and some of it who-knows-what. She is telling him to go while he still has a chance to flee but he decides to take this incredibly inconvenient time to monologue about his undying love for her. It is very dramatic and we all saw it coming so no one cares. You don't have to wait until you are the last man on earth to realize who is important to you. Don't be a chump and tell them how you feel already. Even if they don't feel the same way at least you told them and who knows, they might feel the same way about you. Especially if it's your mum.

#2 In the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, technology is always one of the first things to go.

Suddenly everyone is struggling to make a fire and we go back to the glory days of the hunter-gatherer. You don't want to be one of those guys fleeing from the alien attack going "Oh I wish I could Instagram this. Low-fi filter. Black border. @allen. #imgonnadielol".

What's really going to help you is skills. Get some. Being amazing at Guitar Hero won't help you around the campfire when a fellow survivor passes you the guitar. You can't just play 'red red green blue red green whammy bar' and expect everyone to sing a long. As far as video games have come they can never replace the skill set and experience you are rewarded with for actually going outside and doing stuff.

Except for Black Ops Zombies. That could come in handy.

#3 There is always the alcoholic who starts to sort out his life once he becomes responsible for the survival of himself and others.

Sure he has his moments of weakness where he goes back to the bottle so that the viewers can get some overdue character insight. But he always beats his addiction and becomes the man he should have been. You don't need to hit rock bottom before you deal with your issues. If I've got an addiction or phobia or anxiety disorder I really hope that I get help for that. I want to defeat those issues before trying to defeat an army of robots.

#4 When human beings are facing extermination by invaders (be they undead or otherwise) the socially munted nerd becomes incredibly valuable to what is left of society.

This crazy genius never realizes their potential until the rules don't apply anymore. They find the cure or they hack the mainframe or they upload a virus to the mothership with the help of Will Smith. It's easy to assume that just because you were a cake decorator back in District 12 means that you are going to die in the Hunger Games. Who would have thought that those skills could be used to create camouflage giving you and Katniss the edge you need to win.

You need to realize that not everyone fits the mold of what we think 'normal' is. Even if none of your friends appreciate your weirdness or your very particular set of skills, don't let it get you down. Just because you're not mainstream doesn't mean you're not valuable. You have potential. In fact you have things to contribute that many people don't. The time to realize that is today.

Sometimes it seems as though there is no hope but people always find a way. In the midst of hoplessness remember that Will Smith punched an alien in the face. Even though we are not Will Smith and we don't battle aliens we all have stuff we struggle with. It might be poor self esteem, or depression, or bad choices, or loneliness or regrets but if there is anything I've worked out it is this: You can punch those aliens in the face. What I am saying is that you can actually beat these things. You can win and when you do remember to stare into the camera and say something cool like "I came here to chew bubble gum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum".

 

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Illustration by Mariel Landingin

 

Attitude is New Zealand's largest external provider of school health programmes. They aim to equip young people with the tools and insights necessary to build meaningful lives. The Attitude programme provides a package of resources for schools, including presentations, handbooks, teaching resources and a website. Since its inception in 1996, Attitude has delivered presentations to over 2 million New Zealand students. Check them out on Facebook!

 

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