I have been really nostalgic lately. I’m not sure what it is, but I have been thinking back to the high school days. Thinking back, and missing them. Missing them.
Before I go on, let me paint a quick picture. A girl, sitting meekly in her bedroom watching TV trying desperately to ignore the fact that school starts tomorrow. Trying to immerse herself in whatever show she was watching enough to completely distract her from the fact that in a few short hours, another school year would begin. When the dread of the upcoming school day would nonetheless force its way forward in her thoughts, she would attempt to talk herself out of the panic and dread by reminding herself it was only a few hours, there probably wouldn’t be much homework, and before she knew it, she would be back in that same spot the next day, after having survived. And, oh yeah, she totally cried a time or two in the elementary school years.
Yeah that was me ages 5-18. (And probably into my 20s, who are we kidding here.) When I say I loathed school? Believe me. There wasn’t even a reason. I just decided after that first day of Kindergarten that it was a fate worse than death, and it stuck with me the full 13 involuntary years of my life. So imagine my throaty cackle when September rolls around for the 27th time in my life, and I don’t have to go. However… lately, my mind has been wandering back to the days of high school, and there is a teeny fraction of me that wishes I could go back.
Ha. What? 😐
Well, it’s true. And I recently realized why that was, as I sat on my childhood bed this afternoon thumbing through yearbooks during some downtime on our trip back to Connecticut this week. And why it is such a delayed afterthought, for me and for (almost) everyone else.
Because I’m not who I was then.
I’m seeing high school from where I’m standing now. I’m 27, married, I own my own business, and I’m living 1000 miles away where I’ve had p l e n t y of time to figure out who I am. I’m no longer wondering what people are thinking of me, and miles from caring. No longer mean about other people to mask my own insecurities. Over my dead body will I apologize for who I am, and just plain, old no longer that shy, self-conscious teenager I was then. (A big TY to sweet baby Jesus for that one. 🙏)
In one of my earlier yearbooks– I think junior high– I saw little post-it notes over some of the faces in the book. A few seconds later I vaguely remembered writing them. They were not-so-nice comments on the people I didn’t like back then. They said things such as “nose” or “takes pictures of herself.” I ripped them all off both embarrassed and very irritated with then-Sam as if she were some younger sister I could scold for such bullshit.
I was so bothered by the idea that if I hadn’t randomly looked at the yearbooks when I did, maybe the next eyes to see them would have been those of my future kids. Who would then know that their mom, incredibly far from perfect, was content to point out everyone else’s “shortcomings,” by her insecure, meaningless standards. Or think something like that was okay to do.
How was it that I was alright with poking fun at the nose someone was born with? How ironic it is that I, now little miss basic bitch, queen of selfies, was essentially judging someone else for taking them herself. Or that I, not even close to content with my own self, apparently decided I was the authority on how loud someone’s laugh should be, or what their hair should look like.
It was suddenly abundantly clear to me, that in writing those, I was being a bully. Never to anyone’s face. Never in ways that actually hurt anyone. But a silent, “thought” bully, is still kind of a bully nonetheless.
It is 100% true that bullies are the product of insecurity.
Because… I also noticed a post-it I left over my own photo in my 7th grade yearbook that simply said “gross.”
Because… while I wrote “nose,” what that post-it actually said was, “if I point out her nose, maybe people won’t notice my crappy skin.”
Because… writing “takes pictures of herself,” while still shockingly before the selfie days (did such a time even exist??) actually meant “she feels good enough about herself to take a photo, and I don’t.”
My shining ray of hope is the fact that I do also remember my conscience opting for post-it notes when a bad influence friend was going to write in the actual book. I’m trying to take that as a sign that I wasn’t the total 12-year-old B I was acting like.
I think I want to go back to school as the person I am now because, when you grow out of the junior high and high school period, you know how insignificant the drama and the bullshit is, and it’s so much easier to navigate. Through the murky waters of the teenage years and toward the people you want to be friends with. Toward the people who bring out the best qualities in you, and not the worst (the kind that writes stupid comments on post-it’s on people’s faces.)
I want this because the person I am now doesn’t like bullies. The person I am now can still of course see negative aspects of other people, yet can also see 10x more positive, and knows that kindness is cool, and that Mean Girls is just a movie. The person I am now is the person I needed when I was the pre- & pubescent shit storm that we all are in junior high and high school, but don’t realize that we aren’t the only ones fighting the battle between who we are and who we are not.
Be the person you needed — and wished you were — in high school. And if you are in high school, don’t worry so much about what everyone is thinking. Because chances are every single one of you are a little bit insecure. This too shall pass. 💙