This month’s Living Out Loud theme is “Back to School”.
We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves. ~Lynn Hall
Sometimes, I think I have changed drastically since school, and sometimes I don’t think I’ve changed at all. I think most of us are much who we’ve always been deep down but not what our peers perceived us to be. Sure, we’ve grown wiser and our experiences have shaped us into the people we are today. We are changing and evolving daily. Without change, life is stagnant.
We spent most of our time hiding beneath designer labels (or fake designer labels) and the newest trends and never really stepped out there and let people get to know us as the individuals we were. We were trying so hard to fit into the cookie cutter version of whatever was cool that week. I hid my emotions beneath my big eighties hair, and tended to agree with the opinion of the most popular person in my vicinity rather than voicing my own opinion. We were all so busy with our own problems, we never realized that mostly everyone else had the very same problems. What a support group we could have been for one another if we’d allowed authenticity!
I have never liked cliques. I didn’t like other people being excluded, although I did want to fit in. I more or less floated around or hung on the edges. There were certain people that I associated with in each of my classes. It seemed that I had most of my classes with the same people. I had friends from a variety of groups, but never considered myself one of any group. Now, of course, I have no idea what others actually thought of me
I made good grades, so I hung with some other people who were in similar groups such as Honor Society and Quill and Scroll (Honor Society for writers). I was editor of the school literary magazine and a reporter for the school newspaper. I was not an athlete as my mother would not allow me to play sports. I would have loved to run track. My friend was a cheerleader and I convinced my mother to let me try out. It was only on the condition that my football player friend would take me to and from the games so she wouldn’t have to be bothered. After a day or two of practice, I admitted defeat and did not try out. My friend offered to help me, but seriously I don’t think anyone could have turned a cheerleader out of the clutzy, out of sync person I was!
Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have retained of them. ~Marcel Proust
I had only remained in contact with a handful of friends from high school. I attended reunions but not everyone goes to those. Facebook has taken up the slack in that department. I have reconnected with many people that I otherwise would not have ever reunited. It has been interesting to discover out how much I have in common with people I didn’t really know back then. I really wish I had known them better when distance (as in miles not superficiality) was not a factor.
I am happy that I am still connected with those from my past who knew the “real me”. Even though we have changed and are no longer connected by those same threads that held us together back then, I’ve found that many of those facets we didn’t talk about bond us now. I am grateful to those that cared about me despite my shortcomings and that continue to accept and support me in my life today.
While I probably did not turn out to be who people expected me to become, I am not who I imagined myself to be either. My life path has changed course a few times. The weirdest truth is that I am very much the person I was always afraid to let others see or get to know. I often pretended to be someone I wasn’t just to fit in. I guess the biggest change in me is that I used to hide my questioning philosophical poetic side with silly antics. Through the years, I’ve learned that I can be all that I am and still be accepted. The difference now is that the acceptance part is not nearly as important as it was back then.
I wish I had known then that no matter how fast I ran, I could never outrun truth. I wish I had known then that it was all right to be myself. I wish I had known then that ten years later the opinions of those I tried to impress wouldn’t matter anymore. I wish I had known then that everyone else was struggling just as I was. I wish I had known then that they were probably trying just as hard to impress me. I wish I had known then that the me I was hiding was much nicer than the me I was pretending to be. I wish I had know then that I really was ok.
Just because everything is different doesn’t mean anything has changed. ~Irene Peter