Friday, March 13, 2009

(Almost) Feeling 17 Again...

Do we ever leave high school behind? Why does that period resonate so intensely with many of us, whether we were happy or not, popular or not? Obviously it means a lot to many people, or there wouldn't be so many movies made about it.

Truth be told, much of my memory of high school is vague, as are about any memories over 20 minutes old. Yet, having found all sorts of high school friends and acquaintances on Facebook, I've actually been a bit stung to realize a) all the relationships / friendships / activities that went on when I was in high school that I was not a part of (not having been in any way in the "in" crowd), b) that many of those friendships continued after high school and into today (I somehow did not keep in contact with people - my fault? Theirs? Was I not liked?), and c) that it *still* hurts my feelings 20 years later to realize how marginalized I felt (perhaps was, I don't know - do any of us accurately analyze our status in school?).

Why does it matter to me today? Does it? The sting usually lasts a few minutes, and then I go on and realize that I was quite happy in college, formed great friendships in college, went on to grad school, got married, have an awesome husband and great kids and am happy in my life. So why do I care about feelings from the late 80's? I think it strikes at that basic fear that people still won't/don't like me. Why did they have all those friendships and why wasn't I a part? Of course what I don't always ask myself is, did I want to be a part? I know by senior year I was drifting away from many friends because I had decided I wasn't interested in drinking or drugs, and many of them decided they were. It helped somewhat to designate myself as a sober driver, but I still was often not a "part" of what was going on. After high school I spent 4 months in Germany, and I know upon returning home that reentry was hard for me, and I didn't feel a connection with my high school friends, even though I wanted to.

I guess the bigger issue is my own underlying feelings of being left out. I've often felt that way. Sometimes those feelings reflect/reflected reality - I was overtly made fun of often for my weight or for being weird or what have you, and clearly rejected by many of my more popular classmates. Sometimes, though, those feelings came from within, which is why I think it bugs me 20 years later. I have those same feelings, of not quite fitting in but wanting to, that I had then. It'd be better if I didn't want to, of course - then it wouldn't bother me. *sigh*.

20 years later, and I'm still just a scared little high school kid on the inside, wanting to be liked.


  1. For me, high school was just something that I kept my head down and got through. College was so much better - I actually found people worth having relationships with; people for whom knowledge and intelligence wasn't considered a character flaw.

    I know plenty of people that consider high school the high point of their lives...they remind me of Napoleon Dynamite's uncle.

  2. Actually I feel that way most of the time, too - which is why it irks me that I can feel bothered by the whole thing now. My deepest friendships have definitely come in adulthood.