Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The worst people you’ll ever meet

….. are (hopefully) ones you meet in high school. 

Property lines and city taxes determine where you go to high school.  In my case, I spent four years with the dredges of society.   And despite what teachers and parents tell you, high school behavior continues well into adulthood.  While there aren’t cheerleaders and football players after you turn in your cap and gown, there are mean girls and assholes.    And ultimately, if you look around the brunch table in your late 20s and see a bunch of catty angry women that you call friends – well, my dear, you asked for it. 

And, I admit, I have indulged my need to be popular.  As a former nerd – a part of me was curious to see what life was like on the other side.  I dove head first into social circles where friendship was measured by what I wore and who thought I was hot.  I’ve met the popular girl criteria of being a cheerleader, sorority girl and eventually a Boston socialite.  I checked my brain at the door and picked up a straightening iron.  I surrounded myself with people who only cared if I met the criteria for their image.  And as expected, hot guys wanted to be in near me.  But then I’d get disappointed that these oafs of men didn’t care to see the side of me that was witty, intellectual and downright sweet.  The truth was that I was the one who needed to grow up.  It was like showing up to a hockey game and hoping that the boys would eventually put down their sticks and write me a sonnet.  I have only myself to blame for not striking boyfriend gold in those years. 

But back to high school – I was reminded this weekend about how difficult life as a sophomore can really be.  I was at a writing workshop, sitting next to a teenage girl who wore a raccoon tail pinned to her leggings and Chanel sunglasses indoors.  She carted around an oversized pink designer purse (which only held her smart phone) and spent the entire day not paying attention.  I both hated her and wanted her to think I was cool. It was a sentiment I had often felt in high school.  The rational part of me knew that this young Beverly Hills girl’s future would involving dabbling in modeling, taking up coke and eventually confiding to strangers in bathroom stalls that she wanted to die. 

I thought a lot about what it means to envy the ridiculous and to want their approval.  When you don’t have the cool kid’s approval, you scheme desperately to get it.  When you have it, you can’t figure out why you’re so miserable.  And even after years of growing up, there is still temptation waiting in the forms of VIP sections in Vegas and executive golf outings. 

The tricky part of graduating high school is that now the choice of which road you take is up to you.  And as a soldier who has seen both sides of the battle I leave you one piece of advice.  When you eschew the cool and the beautiful for the weird and the quirky – you’ll find happiness and love on the other side.  


  1. Ah, the good ol' days. I, myself went through the 'I want to be popular' phase in 8th grade. I achieved popularity... for a fleeting few weeks and then some boy said he fucked me in the field behind his house. This was problematic and false and all of my 'friends' laughed at made fun of me.

    Thus, I spent all of the years I went to high school (before I started homeschooling half way through sophmore year) doing everything I could not be popular. I was the weird anorexic goth chick that made people uncomfortable.

    After HS, I said 'fuck it' to the human race. Somehow, that has caused people to like me. Sometimes they even seek me out...and I'm a little stand-offish. My social skills aren't great, but I seem to have hit my stride. (and I'm actually quite nice once you get to no me, I just still carry the un-trusting burden of my school years.)

    Wow...should have written my own post!
    Anyway, found you at 20sb, love this post, you are clearly full of the awesomeness!

  2. That is well put. I too wasn't popular in HS, but for me much hasn't changed. I'm still a bit socially awkward, but I have great friends who are all genuine people. Couldn't be happier!