Wednesday, October 5, 2011

More Self Analysis

With the infamous permed bangs of Grade 4.
Whenever anyone asks me about high school, I find myself describing it as awful. This is odd because I didn't feel particularly suppressed or bored by small town life, nor was I ever bullied to any great extent. In fact, I was moderately popular in high school; though I was not part of the "popular" crowd, I was what could be termed at the second tier of popularity, friends with many different groups in school and plenty to do on the weekend.

But no one was readier to graduate from high school than I; as my friends shed tears at graduation, I looked on dry-eyed and counted the minutes until I could escape them all. I was thrilled at the thought that I was going to a college hundreds of miles from all of them. They were heading off to a larger version of the high school we were leaving, but not I. I was going on an adventure.

This constituted a good hair day for me. (Fr. year)
I look back at high school and my first reaction is always to cringe and get that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach. Was it because this was the time in my life where I felt completely awkward in my body? Not likely. I had permed bangs, braces, and glasses in middle school, so high school was a bit of an improvement over that horrendous look.

Was it because I was constantly dealing with the drama of rejection from a group of girls who were nearly as bad as the "Mean Girls?" Again, no. In third grade, my best friend in the whole world told me that she wasn't allowed to be my friend anymore if she wanted to be friends with the two wealthy popular girls in our class effectively severing our childhood friendship for good. So dealing with that was far worse than any "friend stuff" I ever experienced in high school.

I would call that a mane. (Jr. year)
And yet high school is the time of life I remember with a shudder and a knotted stomach. After a long time mulling these feelings over, I think it may be because high school was where I first felt truly different from many of my friends. I lived in a pretty conservative town with many pretty conservative people, and I don't think much like most of them. I don't believe that people choose to be gay or that you are any more dangerous if you had a different color skin. I love hummus and naan, and edamame. I ignore most fashion trends and buy vintage and classic looks, but...

BUT. And here it is. But I didn't know any of that yet. In high school, I didn't have gay friends (at least not ones who were anywhere near out) or know many people of color or other ethnicities. Our small town didn't have any particularly adventurous food options, and I hadn't really developed a personal style yet (I was just trying to wrestle my hair into a look that didn't resemble a mop or a poodle). In high school, all those personal feelings and beliefs were still swirling dimly through in me. Nothing had yet to solidify into a conviction. At that point in my life, I just felt like I didn't fit in. I didn't particularly understand why, let alone feel good about being different. And it wasn't until college that I actually got the chance to realize and embrace my beliefs.

So the reason I look back on high school with such rancor doesn't really have anything to do with the outside experiences I underwent there, but more with what was happening on the inside. I wasn't me yet, so every time I am reminded of high school I also get a shot of that feeling of being adrift and unsure. And as a gal who thrives on having a confident opinion on pretty much everything, it's hard to feel good about a time in my life where I didn't have an understanding of, let alone confidence in, my fledgling opinions.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Hanna! High school was fun and exciting for me, but I also feel a little angst when I look back as well. There were some mean girls in high school so maybe that is playing a part as well. I think most people would have taken that realization that they are different to mean they must conform and I am so glad you chose to be you!