I have learned some very valuable lessons in my life – as I hope all have by the time they reach the age of 50. I didn’t have a good time in high school; I attended two very different schools in those short four years. The last few years, I find myself back home, close to where I went to high school and so many fellow classmates all still hang out together. Still. I have no problem with this until they made an issue with me not attending the school functions, the class reunions, etc. Some remember those years full of angst or full of joy. My four years of high school was more full of angst and I have chosen to try to put behind me -especially when many of the same people who made my life unbearable in HS tried to make my life difficult 30 years later. So shame on them. And to think many of these people now have children of their own. I pray for them. I was shy, sheltered by my immediate family, basically an introvert back then and now I like to think I have graduated to an ambivert. I tend to only surround myself with calm people these days. I don’t need to loud, crowd filled moments. I prefer to look at the photos after an event or party then be the life of the party. I wish more people would respect that some connections and so-called friendships from a tenuous connection from high schools days do indeed have an expiration date. I attended my 25th and 30th HS reunions. It was okay. I learned I still have very little in common with most people there who showed up. I tried. I went. Now I just want to be left alone by that ‘crowd’.
To me, it seems like some people never leave high school. They are still jealous, bullies, immature, and many busy trying to relive glory sports days or prom queen days.
After attending the 25th reunion, so many of the same people who tried spreading gossip about me in HS invited me out; I went, I am a forgiving person, chalking all those HS moments to immaturity. But sitting with these strangers around me, and all talking about things I had no true connection to nor memory of, I realized I still had very little in common with this group of tight knit high school friends. I tried. I wanted to know what it would be like to hang out with the HS ‘in-crowd’. As an adult, being invited to parties I never got invited to while in HS, I thought would vindicate me and erase some of those sad HS moments. But it didn’t. If anything some get together’s just exacerbated it.
My curiosities were at an all time high, and I tried to just approach by observing, more like an anthropologist than an active participant. I was learning a little of what it most of been to be popular in HS. But curiosity wanes. People show their true colors, and I was sad – but not for myself, but for them. So many of these people, left high school, married someone from their local area, and settled in the same area or a place just like our hometown. I couldn’t truly relate back then nor now. Most of my friends are people I have met outside of high school. I have a huge family and am close to my cousins, who will always be my friends, my source of home. And have been lucky to have traveled and work in many different places, so many of my friends are from shared experiences as adults.
I have been busy trying to put those tough awkward years behind me – only to learn that I am still more awkward than not. Daily, I battle depression, PTSD, body image issues due to cancer and scars, and have never been the social, bubbly, pretty cheerleader type. I prefer to get lost in the background, in books, in words, in engaging all my five senses by enjoying wine and food. I detest dieting and never go to the gym. I don’t feel the need to look perfect nor do I believe in plastic surgery nor in spending tons of money on wrinkle cream or cellulite cream. I am happy with myself, by myself. I don’t need validation from many people, especially those from high school who never had my back then or now, and have never walked in my shoes, Jimmy Choo or not.
I have learned that I didn’t allow those four years of high school to fully define me. I haven’t lived there for a very long time. I never allowed that HS shadow to linger. Some feelings did arise whenever I get an invitation and then I write posts like this. But for the most part, I realize that my HS years were hard but it doesn’t hold much glory days. I was on the honor society, I had my cousins as my friends, and didn’t need much. I graduated, moved on. I don’t have that sense of melancholy from those HS days. I see that those HS years occupy a privileged place for many people. They reminisce and want to relive their glory days. Perhaps explains Ralph Keyes’s observation in his 1976 classic, Is There Life After High School?: “Somehow those three or four years can in retrospect feel like 30.”
About the only thing I still deal with since I was a teenager is still learning how to be myself, to not lose control and to continually keep learning.
So I wish when I chose to RSVP NO that people from high school could respect that and move forward. And not feel the need to talk about me behind my back … but sadly, we all know that is not the case. So I try to remember the saying, “What people say about me behind my back is none of my business.” (RuPaul). They don’t know me, they can dislike me, well dislike what they think they know of me. And I will continue being me, living my life, with its ups and downs, but me loving myself each day.
Most importantly, it’s my life, and if something doesn’t serve me, I am learning to let it go. We have no obligation to someone else. When something upsets you, let it go. And that includes what other people think of you. If other peoples’ judgement is bringing you down, ignore it. Try to only hold onto things that make you feel good. Other people can make their choices. They can bitch about you and say nasty things. But don’t forget that you have choices too. So let’s all try to make better choices. Shaking off the negativity, moving forward with purpose, and looking forward to all the beautiful, positive things that make me happy … with hope in my heart and grace in my step.