Tuesday, January 29, 2008

High School 2.0

I used to have this fantasy. (Not a sexual one for a change.) My fantasy was to go back to high school and do it all over again. It's a pretty common fantasy. So many of us were so awkward back then. So many of us had to put up with bullies and mean kids and strict social groups. High school can be a fun time… but so many of us were on the outside looking in.

I don't have the same feeling about 4th grade or 5th grade. I don't have the same pangs of heartbreaks and heartaches about life in my twenties. (Although there were certainly plenty of heartbreaks there!) Nope. There's something about the high school years that doesn't go away. The victories seemed bigger. The embarrassments more painful.

Maybe you're like me. I mean, if you're having some confusion over your sexual or gender identity now (as an adult), I'm guessing that those feelings of confusion were multiplied back in high school. With all that social pressure. The cliques. The crushes. The raging hormones. It was a pretty intense and pretty confusing time.

Any way. All of that came crashing back to me as I started going out more often as a girl. I'm meeting other girls. Trying to pick out cute outfits. Comparing myself to other girls. Worrying about what they think of me. Flirting. Dieting. Thinking about sex. Wondering about sex. Daydreaming about sex. Obsessing about sex…

And that's when it hit me. I'm back in high school! No time machine. No fuzzy flashback. No knock on the head at your 15th class reunion. This is real. This is me. (And maybe it's you too.) And omg … we're freshmen all over again!

And it's all the same stuff! The cliques. The flirting. The obsession with clothes. The adolescent sexual tension. The impending loss of virginity. The oh-so-intense anxiety about all of the above.

It sounds awful. But you know what? I'm kind of enjoying it. It's my return-to-high school fantasy coming true. Like I said, I didn't have that great a high school experience. Back then, I was shy. Confused. Totally intimidated. Sound familiar?

I was paralyzed. I was so unsure of myself, I just froze. I didn't do anything. Who was it that said that youth is wasted on the young? That was me. Total teenage wasteland. And not because I was on drugs. I wasn't. The waste was that all those good years, all those fun years, (all those skinny years!) just slipped away. Someone once asked me if I was picked on in high school. A lot of us "sensitive" people are. But I wasn't. I avoided all the taunts and the bullies by being invisible. And it wasn't hard. I was so anonymous that no one even noticed me.

But they're starting to notice me now. (Think I'm overcompensating just a little? Hehe.) Maybe we all are. Maybe we're all reaching back to recapture something we missed out on. Maybe we're trying to get a better hold on something that once slipped away. All I know is that I'm having fun. I'm going out. Flirting. Dating. Checking out the other girls. Seeing how I measure up. It's like High School 2.0! I'm obsessing about fashion. Obsessing about guys. Obsessing about guys dressed as girls! (That's a new one.) And hoping my car makes it to the club and back without breaking down! (That's nothing new.)

Oh, and all the arrangements! Do you remember? When I was in high school, every night out was preceded by a barrage of phone calls. (This was in the days before email.) Who's driving? Who's riding with whom? What time are we leaving? What time do we want to get there? Who's buying the beer?

Now I do it with emails mostly. (My stepson wonders why I know so much about MySpace. ) But the questions are the same. Who's going out? Where are we going? What are we wearing? It's like deja vu all over again.

Of course, High School 2.0 comes with all the petty jealousies, competitiveness, and cliques of the original high school. And the drama. Let's never forget the drama. You have all the prettiest girls (Tina Fey called them, "The Plastics"), the wild girls, the punks and the princesses, the shy girls, the nerds, the sluts...they're all back. (I must admit though: there are a lot more lesbians in High School 2.0! It's like I've been sent away to the National Boarding School for Wayward Bisexuals. I'd sing you our fight song, but it isn't fit to print.)

Speaking of fighting, I haven't seen a girl fight yet. But I'm sure that's inevitable too. You take a bunch of girls (who haven't been girls all that long), mix in some emerging sensuality and sexuality, add some raging hormones, a few strong drinks, some thumping music – and sooner or later, someone's going to call someone a name. Someone's going to pull someone's hair. And the girls are going to go at it.

How silly. How immature. How high school!

Makes me wonder what my vanilla high school friends are doing these days. Do they ever go out and dance and flirt and carry on like they used to? Do they still get caught up in all the drama? They've probably settled into pretty typical American suburban family life. And believe me, there's nothing wrong with that. (In fact, there's a lot right with that.)

But sometimes I wonder what they'd think of me. In my big wigs and sky high heels. My latex outfits and micro minis. They'd probably think I was nuts. I mean, let's be honest, most of the time I think I'm nuts!

I have to admit though. I wonder sometimes if any of those jocks and bullies from high school ever became dressers. Or admirers. I've moved far from home, so I doubt I'd ever run into anyone from the old days. But I wonder if I've ever chatted online with someone I used to know. What a trip that would be. What a trip this all is.

So how am I doing this time around? How am I doing in High School 2.0? Okay I think. I feel a little better prepared than I was at 14 or 15. But it's still hard. I still have a lot of the same anxieties. I still have a lot of those painful daily crushes and heartbreaks. But I'm definitely more confident. More talkative. More outgoing. Still though, it's going to take some time before I really start to feel comfortable in my own skin.

But at least this time, I don't think anyone's better than me. Prettier? Yes. More stylish? Absolutely. Sexier? Oh my god, yes. But better? Nope. I've finally realized that it takes all kinds in this world. And no one else out there really knows what I'm dealing with… or what I'm hoping for. I finally realized that I'm the only me there is. And no matter what anyone else says or does, I'm the best me that ever was. Or will ever be.

And geez, I really wish someone had told me that back in high school.

Take care out there.
Be safe. Be smart. Be sexy.


Zelda Rose said...

I wish I could go back and talk to that kid I was in high school, let them know that they are loved and that things will get better if they just have confidence in themselves. I wish I could tell them they shouldn't be ashamed of the feelings they have. And I wish I could just hug them.

I had never thought about this being my second high school, but now I can see some parallels. And I'm going to do this one a lot better than my first.

Thanks :)

Bobbie said...

that touched me so much. I had tears.

Flora said...

ive been out of high school probably shorter than all of you,and it was hell,today isnt all that better since roughly know one knows my "true" identity,but i do see the resemblance and all your articles touched my very core,i thank you from the bottom of my heart for accepting to write em

Sabrina said...

I have to say that was well said, how wonderful it would be to re-experience high school as who you'd want to be, rather than what you were! I just love thinking about the opportunities we have if we just choose to be who we want to be, rather than what others made us to be.

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