How Britney Spears Prepared Me for Grown-Up Life

His name was Adam and I had a major crush on him. I was 11 years old, and I thought the epitome of coolness meant wearing a plaid skort and white knee socks. (It would take me a further two years to grow out of this delusion. I had a blissfully naïve childhood.)

When my style prowess didn't do much to earn this boy's attention, I turned to other means to impress him. Case in point: when I overhead him talking about some new singer named Britney Spears and how hot he thought she was, you can bet I bought that album.

It was my first album, in fact. It would soon be followed by treasures such as the soundtracks to Now and Then and My Girl (remember we're talking about someone who rocked ambiguous clothing items such as skorts).

To be honest, that album - but not the boy, surprisingly enough - still holds a special place in my heart. I think my girl B. Spears really hit the nail on the head with Baby, One More Time. While subsequent albums (and head-shaving choices) may have raised some well-founded concerns about her ability to instruct me in the ways of life, I'm going to propose that her debut album taught me some important lessons about how to navigate the post-college world.

And I elaborate on a few key tracks:

"Baby One More Time"
This absolutely conveys an underlying message about not giving up when cubicle land hates on you. If Britney can get back up and take another hit for the sake of love, you can do it for the sake of a paycheck.

Sometimes I run, sometimes I hide. Don't we all, Britney? I think this track is telling us something crucial about our inner child and unresolved fears. I'm pretty sure this can be solved with a) therapy, b) fudgsicles or c) a round of heartfelt choreography in the privacy of your bedroom. I may or may not speak from experience.

"Soda Pop"
Aside from the obvious message of needing a little reggae in your life, this one's easy: take care of your bod. Sure, a comfort soda a day might keep the stressors away, but the cavities will be a beast. And besides, the sugary impact on your cardio health might adversely affect your ability to engage in the above-mentioned therapeutic choreography.

"E-mail My Heart"
Apparently, Britney knew way before the rest of us about the impending technological revolution and its impact on dating as we know it. I dare say the creators of eHarmony took some serious notes on this little number. How this applies to my life, I have yet to say. Or admit to.

And there you have it, kids. What, you didn't gleam such knowledge and wisdom from listening to her album? Maybe you're not as in-tune with the cosmic pop forces as I am. But please, refrain from turning to "Slave 4 u" or "Toxic" for any legit guidance. I'm just sayin'.

Now you tell me: what artists from your pre-teen collection still speak words of wisdom to your soul?