Seize the future and 'make your own lunch'

Monday , June 23, 2014 - 12:00 AM

TX. Correspondent

22c94aa9-e87d-4d56-b2ba-06aea53390e7If you’re anything like most teenagers, the world around you has always tried to direct you on a path toward college. Heck, sometimes it becomes so expected that people forget it’s a choice – but there are so many other possible leads to be followed after high school.

“Make Your Own Lunch,” a new book by Ryan Porter, describes this decision in great detail.

Every word in the book works toward one motive – to open the eyes of readers to realize they are in control of the future, whether it includes travel, working, volunteering or college. The decisions they make are their own because they are the ones who will need to live with the consequences, positive or negative.

Within the first five pages, a potential reader can decide whether this book is relevant to his or her needs by checking out a list of the kinds of people this book can help. If any of the many bullet points apply to you, it’s a good idea to take a look at the rest of the book.

The Canadian author feels no shame in making fun of himself — or anything else, for that matter. While he’s making his point, Porter throws in humorous punches, including hashtags of his own.

Part of what makes this an amazing book is that the young author is so relatable to his audience of teenagers (but then again, he probably doesn’t have to try too hard because he is only in his 20s ... ). Honestly, I even read his three pages of thank you shout-outs at the end of the 224-page paperback because he made them so funny. His humor is original and attention-grabbing.

The power is yours

Porter wisely states, “Decision is the only way anyone accomplished anything ... ever.” Porter acknowledges reasons teenager dread decision-making – too much responsibility, too much pressure, not enough confidence – and teaches why it’s the only way to move on in life.

He emphasizes this point with a classic joke about three construction workers who each jump off the top of a building because they are so tired of having the same repetitious lunch every day. The catch is that the last man makes his own lunch, while the other two have meals packed by their wives.

The last man, Bob (really original name, isn’t it?), commits suicide even though it was within his power to change the things he didn’t like. This is symbolic to the life of the reader – it’s to help you realize that’s the path so many teenagers are on. Hating their lives, but doing nothing to change it. Don’t be one of them.

In “Make Your Own Lunch,” published in May by Sourcebooks, Porter distinctly reminds readers that their future is their own. Although it’s fine to take the advice and opinions of others into consideration, it’s your decision in the end. His advice sums up to the idea of following your dreams and apologizing to close ones for hurting them, but not for living your life and going after the things you desire most.

Real-life examples

Another great thing about this book is that every chapter starts with a real-life experience. Then the author gradually dives into making his point from a moral learned from that experience. Porter doesn’t only share his own experiences; there are stories of others who decided to step it up and “make their own lunch,” and successfully did so.

One of my favorite quotes from this book: “Slice, dice and chop. Make real decisions and cut off every other option until you have what you want.”

Right. Pinpoint your goal and don’t get distracted. I’m sure I also speak for others when I say procrastination and totally unrelated objects are major obstacles whenever I’m trying to work on something. Because distractions are such an issue, focusing on the things you sincerely want puts your goal in clear reach.

Porter’s way of describing consequences hints at a description better than any I’ve heard before – what goes in must come out. If you’re making crappy decisions and stupid actions, the consequences will be directly related – as in not too favorable.

In the last pages of “Make Your Own Lunch,” the author is kind enough to provide a list of resources to help readers follow their dreams. It includes websites for traveling, finding work, tracking down mentors and volunteering. The page after that lists contact information for the author – with directions as to where to send a smoke signal in case email, Twitter and Facebook don’t go through.

Explore the options

The one thing I found slightly unsavory in this book was the repetition. Although it’s good (and quite needed) to pound things into teenage brains multiple times to actually get a point through, I think this was a tad too much. I felt like the same thing was stated over and over again in this book, just in different ways.

Overall, “Make Your Own Lunch” is a very eye-opening book. Reading it did not change my own decision about going to college, but it helped me comprehend that attending a university really isn’t a requirement to be successful. I would highly recommend it to any other teenager or person out there who is not sure of the path they want to take.

Actually, I would even recommend it to those who think they are sure. Either way, it helps the reader identify other options.

Karissa Wang will be a junior this fall at NUAMES. She enjoys swimming and has a constant craving for mint chocolate chip ice cream. Email her at

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