I had dinner with some gals from high school on Saturday night. It was interesting. There were 6 of us and we represented pretty much all the groups you find in those tough years: the jock, the pretty cool girl, the quiet one, the geek, the new student, and the minority.
We all saw each other a couple years ago at our reunion, but this was the first time we got to have an intimate conversation about our years when we spent ages 12-18 together every day.
The thing that amazed me the most was to hear about what other people were thinking and how wrong we were in our assumption that we were the only ones suffering.
We all come from different backgrounds and different levels of dysfunction. And don’t kid yerself, we ALL had dysfunction, just different kinds and severity. So here we all were, 12 years old, with all our baggage and insecurities that we acquired at home, and we are thrust into rooms with 20-30 others young people with their own cocktail of quirks, and we are expected to have fun. Really? Well, sure! It’s that what the adults tell us…’Enjoy school! It’s the best time of your life!’. Really?!? I remember thinking, ‘shit, if this is the best time of my life I’m soo not looking forward to what comes after school….eek’.
If we had mature coping skills and there was a manual on how to handle your teenage years, and how to navigate the sensitive mind fields like sex, self-esteem, periods, conflict, popularity, insecurity…. then I think we would have had a head start but good luck finding that. We were ill equipped! We walked into social and emotional situations that we were not schooled in. Parents seem to be a little more hands-on in their kids lives these days, but in the 80s, your parents patted you on the head and said, ‘have a great day at school’. You were on your own.
So, Saturday was a real eye-opener for all of us. Through talking about it, we all realized that we were each so busy trying to appear like we were fine and had everything under control that we didn’t even notice that everyone around us was going through the same thing. Hell!
Ie. I was always outgoing and loud and funny. They all thought that I was totally self-secure and problem free. But I used that laughter and joking to mask my fears that I wasn’t worthy, cool, or intelligent. The cool good looking girl was always well dressed and seemed to have it together. But she didn’t. She had shit going on at home, and was painfully shy. One gal had HUGE boobs and it stifled her ability to communicate with anyone, the intellectual gal wished to break out of her good girl image but didn’t have the guts and was rejected and ignored, the minority was dealing with racism and problems at home…I could go on.
I feel so sad for the wounded little souls we all were. Everyone so busy acting like they were some one other than who they were. Caring so much about what others thought of them that they lost their personal identity. Ugh. I wouldn’t go back to be that experience for anything.
As I walked home on Saturday night (we drank quite a bit so no driving for me), I realized how far I have come since then and I patted myself on the back. I have always marched to the beat of my own drum. When other kids were quiet and submissive, I was loud, outspoken, demanding,and wanted answers. I was never just ok with things the way they were simply because someone said so. I had to question. And I still do.
I haven’t changed that much. None of us have, but the difference is that we are ok with who were are now. I embrace my originality. I am still demanding, outgoing, and loud. But I embrace that now. I am who I am. I don’t apologize for who I am. This is me. Take it or leave it. We all seemed to have landed in the place of self acceptance and it feels great.
Be who you are. Accept who you are. Embrace who you are…you will one day, so why not do it now?