I Wish I Had Known Then…

This month’s Living Out Loud theme is “Back to School”.

That was then.

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

This is now.

27 thoughts on “I Wish I Had Known Then…

  1. Oh, Suzi…your last paragraph summed it up so perfectly.

    I too, wish I had known then….

    But, then again…we all seem to discover these truths later, don’t we?

    I was a lot like you….

    “I had friends from a variety of groups, but never considered myself one of any group.”

    I had a very eclectic group of friends (as I do now), but never considered myself one of any group either. I have a feeling you and I would have been buds in school.

    Faaaaabulous photograph of you!

    What a pretty lady you are!


  2. But if you knew then, would you be who you are today? It’s that trek to finding out who you are that makes you who you are, I think. Wouldn’t it be nice if it could be a smoother path?

  3. We all are the same- but different. We all have set personalities, quirks, etc that are bred into us via nature and nurture- these traits often remain as the core of who we are through our lives. You can see this in your own children- how vastly different their personalities are!

    But we change some things with age- our priorities, our wants, our needs. Sometimes our weaknesses and strengths, sometimes our issues.

    and as my mom said- we are a conglomerate of our experiences, so changing an experience changes us.

  4. I hated high school, pure and simple. Collage was a dream. Friends, colleagues, competitors, all struggling. It was wonderful. And remember, I didn’t start college until 31. I really believe at 64, I’d have the same experience today.

  5. Meaningful post; especially as I connect with friends from the old days as well via social media.

    I wish being true to oneself and realizing that as a teen very little will matter 10 years later was an easier sell–it is difficult to recognize the concept as truth as a high school student.

  6. I love your now picture. So pretty.

    LIfe is the journey, though, right? If we would have know then what we know now, it would have been a different journey. We might not be where we are today.

    It is great–regardless of that–it is great that you know it now. And that you are happy. That is the best part.

  7. Your post has moved me Suzi, so mature, honest and reflective. You are such a beautiful soul and turned into a gorgeous and so talented woman. I always feel so inspired when I come here. You have amazing warm and loving eyes. Well done girlfriend xxx

  8. Everyone who saw me after years said that I am the same as I was growing up, just older, with more widsom about me. People who came into my life over the past few years say I never changed. I say what you see is what you get yesterday, today, and forever. I am older with more aches and pains, and heartaches but Viola is Viola no matter what. I love you suzicate, and you are a good writer my friend. Hugs Viola

  9. A few thoughts:
    -You still look fabulous!
    -You had an honor society for writers? Awesome!
    -Facebook is definitely cool; isn’t it fun to reconnect with people from the past and see who they “really” are and have become?
    -Loved this post.

  10. Loved this post. Made me smiley and such. And I really love the photos you added of yourself. You have such amazing, beautiful eyes!

  11. yes, indeed. Very thoughtful and insightful. We are able to look back with experience and perspective, something we did not have at that time. But we have it now and for that I am completely thankful.

  12. And that is why I didn’t have any good friendships in school. I was the type that stayed on the background and watched all the groups. I was never in one. I was always too out spoken to fit in.

    If only…

  13. Hi SuziCate — this is really such an awesome post, reminds me I have come to new realizations in my life such as this, but you’ve expressed it better than my rambling mind ever would have.

    Ah, to have know what we know now then, eh. To just be ourselves, and not worry about impressing others. To just enjoy our time being young. I fell like Im finally me, and I like that feeling too.

    Lovely writing, as always.


  14. Like you, I don’t think I’ve turned out where my high school self thought I would be. My high school self would probably have said, “Oh my god. Married with two kids. Living in suburbia. Driving carpool. Where is your poetry?” High school me would have it all wrong though. It’s a lot better than I could ever imagine – and I might not write poetry as much anymore, but I write a blog. I am still that writer.

  15. “I wish I had known then that it was all right to be myself”

    I can relate to this so much, other than wanting to be a cheerleader 🙂

    Seriously you are 100% right we grow up and things change, we end up where we never realized we could be and everything is OK, it’s a good thing to be ourselves and like you said I whish I had known then that I was really OK

  16. I loved the pics in this post. I think we get caught up in the periphery in our life and only when time has passed, do we learn what was really important. I wish we could embrace who we are at every point in our life, instead of hiding or faking who we are just to make an impression on people who may or may not matter in the end. But I think it is a rite of passage for all of us.

  17. Ahhh, high school. The years we love to hate, but end up reminiscing about after enough time passes. Such an honest and insightful post. I’ve always said I’d go back to high school or college in a heartbeat…but only if I could take my 50-year-old brain with me. The others are spot on when they say we are the sum of all our experiences, and wouldn’t be who we are today if not for all the good and bad things in our past.

    BTW, the photo is a truly lovely woman. 😉

  18. You know what always strikes me the most about then&now pictures? The way smiles never change. I mean, I think that you actually look almost exactly the same in your “now” picture as in your “then” picture, except for the longer hair and the not-faded color of the photo, but seriously, it’s the smile that always remains utterly the same…

    I hope that I will grow to be as wise as you. I think that high-schoolers rarely if ever are sure of themselves. It’s the age where your very brain chemistry is playing games on you, causing depression and bad decision making and whatnot.

  19. My closest friends are my oldest friends, because we’ve experienced each others’ changes and have an appreciation for everything that’s happened along the way. Nice post.

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