High school was not the best time in my life. As I was explaining to Mr. Geeky on the way down to my 20th reunion, the stories I tell myself and others about high school are not happy stories. There are plenty of happy stories (I think) that I could have chosen to represent my high school years, but I’ve chosen the not so happy ones. It’s interesting how we do that, how we create a narrative for our life, picking and choosing what to remember and what to forget. It’s true I had all kinds of problems in high school–not getting along with my mother, dealing with boyfriends and mean girls, struggling with the whole popularity thing, drinking, drugs, typical stuff really. It’s amazing how much a typical high schooler has to deal with and how unequipped they are to deal with much of anything. At least that’s the way I see it now.
I had no expectations, really, about seeing people from my past. All of the anxiety I used to feel when attending events with these people is gone. LLA described me as confident in high school. I had to laugh at that. I had no self esteem and constantly worried about what other people thought about me. When I walked into a room, I worried about whether people were judging my outfit or who I was with. I never felt sure of my choices. And I suspect I wasn’t the only one. One guy said he’d been a bit freaked out on the first night. He couldn’t really pinpoint why and I wonder if it was the shock of being in the same room with people that used to make you feel unsure of yourself. Of basically being transported back in time.
I was most surprised by how many people recognized me and came up to me to say hello. Everyone said I looked exactly the same. I thought a lot of people looked exactly the same. It was uncanny really how little some people has changed. The first evening was a little like speed dating. People would come up to me. We’d talk for a bit and then we’d move on to the next person. We had a little more time the second evening and for the most part, I got to see and talk to the people I wanted to. But there were a few people, who either weren’t there or who I didn’t get to talk to, that I missed. I realized that I always felt like I didn’t fit into a particular crowd. I was always changing friends or kept my circle of friends pretty wide and yet, never felt popular. But, in reality, I think I had a lot of different kinds of friends and was close to them at different times over the years. And while “the popular crowd” may have been known by everyone, they didn’t have a bunch of people walking up and talking to them and telling them that they were one of the people they really hoped to see.
So maybe I’ve made my peace with high school and will start telling a different narrative of those years, one that balances out the negative with the positive. I’m not sure what that story will be yet. I’m still working on it.