Taking The Direct Approach: Ned Bigby's Tips Applied to Life.

Promo photo for the greatest show in Nickelodeon history. Fight me.

If you’re anything like me and found yourself growing up in the mid 2000’s, you probably wished you were attending junior high at James K. Polk Middle School. There were many shows that I enjoyed as a child, but Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide might simply be one of the best that I can remember. Not only was it funny and relatable, but the concept of the show was something I’d never seen before or since.


For 3 seasons, the trio of Ned Bigby, Simon "Cookie" Nelson-Cook, and Jennifer "Moze" Mosely provided authentic tips for kids that are going through what probably is the most awkward and confusing chapter of their life. Whether it was going to your first school dance, dealing with bullies, or passing the class with the toughest teacher, the show always provided substance that could be applied to the duration of your time in school.

I'd be screaming too if I had to look at coconut head everyday.

When you’re watching this show at the ripe age of ten or eleven, it can be difficult to award it with the appreciation it so desperately deserves. It wasn’t until I was much older that I genuinely understood the messages that the show was trying to convey. Unfortunately, I’m older and not-so-wiser, and there is no survival guide that I can flick on and watch at the end of a long day. The best I can do now is revisit some of Ned’s tips and try to employ them to the unforgiving quandary that is adulthood. Where is Ned when ya need him? Here are five tips from Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide that I believe most people can benefit from in some facet.




Tip #334.3F - When you're sitting with your friends, you are at the cool table.

P Cookie, P Cookie HOLLAAAA

As you’re growing from child, to preteen, to teen, there are loads of expectations to fit in and conform to what is deemed "popular" in society. When you’re in middle school, you are constantly wary not to do anything that could result in getting ridiculed or stuffed in a locker. You’re regularly searching for ways to stay hip, just to say you have a role with the IN crowd. One thing I’ve discovered as I’ve gotten older is that the pressure you once put on yourself to fit in, should really be the pressure to just be yourself. There is no use in this life doing anything you don’t want to do. If you’re surrounding yourself with those you love and care about, you’ve already won. Ned said it better than I can. If you’re sitting with your friends, you ARE at the cool table.




Tip #883.2C - Make sure the coach notices you.

When you do get your shot, make sure you're prepared.

In order to put yourself in the most beneficial positions, you have to provide yourself with a leg up in the situation. In this instance, Ned was trying out for the school basketball team, and his advice is to do what you can to seize the attention of the coach. Now that doesn't mean show up in the newest shoes, the most sweatbands, and the brightest shorts you can find. Learn the fundamentals, play hard, and showcase you'd be a valuable asset to the squad. Perhaps these days this relates to trying to get a job or a promotion in the workplace. Do not simply complete what is necessary and go home at the end of the day, you’ll only be putting yourself behind the 8-ball. Do what it takes to catch the eye of those you’re trying to impress, and I’m sure you’ll receive the notoriety you’re seeking. This also harkens back to Tip #338.XU - Don't kiss up, do the work. Put in the appropriate time and you will reap the benefits of your hard work.




Tip #966.1.3BVD - Imagine audience in their underwear.

This has been said for ages, and for good reason. When you’re in middle school and you’re nervous for the spelling bee, or when you’re going in front of the executives of your business for a presentation, it is important to remain calm in order to execute efficiently. What it comes down to is remembering that regardless of position or status, we’re all human. Despite what it may seem in the moment, everyone has been nervous and everyone has failed before. No singular person is better than anyone else, and you shouldn't let the weight of the moment infiltrate your mind to the extent that it dictates your performance. Try to remember this the next time you're in the spotlight, because there is nothing to gain when fearing these situations. Rather, use them as an opportunity to enhance yourself and sharpen your skills. To be scared of failure is to be scared of opportunity.





Tip #909.1A - The Direct Approach. Just Ask!

This is the simplest tip featured on this list. If you want something out of life, just go ahead and get it. And If it requires you having to ask, the worst they can say is no. This tip came to fruition when Ned was pondering how he can land a dance with Suzie Crabgrass at the school dance. (Most boys watching probably wanted to dance with Suzie as well.) The best answer is usually the most simple, and it was naturally just to ask her. Use the direct approach in all aspects of life. The best advice I've ever gotten is to avoid sitting and stewing over what will happen if things don't go your way. You’d rather ask and have the outcome be a big fat NO, than to have never even asked at all. You’ll thank yourself when it is all said and done. (Maybe thank Ned too.)


Get a load of this guy. Approaching things directly.


Tip #309.8.2 - Have fun, don't have super-high expectations and go with the flow.

I saved this one for last because I tend to think it is some of the best advice the show gave us preteens. While most of the tips Ned shared were situational, this is one you can use every single day for the remainder of your time on Earth. Life is a crazy, crazy trip. If you spend too much time worrying about what is coming next, a good portion of it can blow right past you without warning. The most important thing in life is to make memories with those you care about, and having fun along the way. As one who can be a bit of an overthinker, I often calm the mind by telling myself to control what I can control, and go where life takes me. One thing I’ve learned as I am entering adulthood is that life can be unrelenting at times. You take your bumps and bruises, brush yourself off as best you can, and get back in the game. You take these lessons throughout your journey and create your own survival guide.

Just go with the flow, baby.

There simply are not enough shows like this made for children these days. I feel like an old man saying that. Not only was it quality entertainment, but it was actively seeking out ways to let it's viewers know that it is perfectly normal to be nervous and confused at this age. When you’re a kid, you’re in such a vulnerable state that a piece of advice you receive at age 12 can stick with you until you’re 80. Nickelodeon certainly had something special with this show, and I’m glad they were able to share it with us for a short 3 years. Growing up we all wanted to be a James K. Polk Wolf, and in many ways we probably felt like we were. The seemingly endless list of well developed characters kept you coming back, but the tips are what stick with you after all of this time.


Unfortunately, Ned Bigby isn’t around these days to give us an adulthood survival guide, and maybe part of life is figuring these things out on your own. But I'd be lying if I said having a daily episode of Ned walking us through buying a home or getting his graduate degree wouldn't help us all out. With a little bit of creativity and adjustment, I suppose Ned's guide through middle school will have to do for now.





This blog post is brought to you by the law firm of Clair Sawyer: Future Lawyer.


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