I’ve been thinking a lot about high school lately. I think it’s because my graduating class has been very active on Facebook, and out of 159 of them, I probably have about 60 “friends,” as defined by Facebook. Every day or two, I find someone new or someone new finds me.
High school was hard for me. This is, of course, a completely absurd statement to make, because high school was hard for pretty much everyone. That’s why Molly Ringwald films did so well in the 80s.
But, it was especially hard for me. I did not ever fit in entirely with one group or another, probably because I was an awful lot to take on a consistent basis. I had friends, but I was not ever fully part of a clique. So, when a group of friends got together on a Saturday night, they did not often think to invite me. While at the time it felt like I was deliberately excluded, I suspect it was more that I was not on any one group’s radar screen.
That, however, is not really why high school was hard for me. The bare truth of it is that no one loved me, with the possible but only so helpful exception of my sister. It is a bald statement, and I don’t think I quite grasped it at the time. I had a house and food and all that, but no one loved me.
You cannot really blame the difficulties I had in high school on the fact that I am intense. Plenty of people in my class were intense, and there is no shortage of professors, business people, and doctors in the class of 1991. But I was needy. Very, very needy. And I think it scared people.
Shit, it would scare me if I met someone like that nowadays.
I am a naturally social person, so I cared a lot about my peer relationships – probably more than most kids do. Plus, I was trying to make up for the lack of familial love by strongarming my peers into loving me. I think many of them were drawn to me for the same reason people are drawn to me today: my great charm, astounding wit, and winning friendliness. Not to mention my fantastic backside. But they were also repelled, a little turned off for reasons they could not define.
And, so, I was lucky. Much as many of them might now reflect that they were not as good to me as they could have been or as accepting as they would be as adults, the fact is that they did pretty well. They had their own adolescent bullshit to deal with, and yet they did the best they could to give me their friendship. A few even tried to help me. I demanded a lot without being able to give much of my real self in return, and things could have been a hell of a lot worse.
So, this post is dedicated to the class of 1991. The people who didn’t realize how damaged I was but forbore to impose more damage, which they very well could have. There aren’t a lot of teenagers you can say that for.
I might even post this link on Facebook so they actually know I’ve written it…