Am I Going to Prom, or to Hell?
No, this post isn’t about prom, but it is about ...the hells of high school. Honestly, I had a hard time narrowing my post to one topic, because looking back, high school was the worst, most miserable time of my life. (Think HEATHERS, minus the cute boy with a sexy voice and all the murder.)
So, in analyzing my high school years through the 20/20 lens of retrospect, I came to the conclusion that it all boils down to identity—or lack thereof. I’m no psychologist, but I would venture to guess the lens through which we view ourselves guides every aspect of our lives. As adults, most of us take for granted that we know exactly who we are, and conversely, who we are not. For example, my current identity stems from my faith, my roles of wife, mother, daughter and friend, and of course, writer. But I also know my own limitations, so I’m fairly certain I’ll never climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, or teach ballroom dancing, or be a contestant on Project Runway.
But in those hellish years of high school, where insecurity, zits and raging hormones rule, most of us drifted from one group to another, seeking that one thing to make us feel unique and valued. To complicate matters, this is also when we pull away, with every ounce of our strength, from our families, as if we’d rather die than admit we have parents.
|Me with Drama Club in NYC|
|Dance with 'popular' friends|
I envied people like my good friend Ann, who found her identity in academic achievement and wanted to be a doctor since she was a fetus. (BTW, she became our class salutatorian and is now a successful pediatrician – Go Ann! J) Or my buddy Brian who caught the acting bug our junior year and spent his every waking hour in pursuit of his dream. (He lives in NYC and does commercials and off-Broadway productions—you rock, Brian!) Or my husband, who cruised through the entirety of his teen years safely ensconced in the same tight-knit group of friends he’d had since elementary school. (I’m pretty sure this is why he’s so well grounded today—love you, Tom!)
And then there were the girls who found their self-worth in boys. Cruising from relationship to relationship, they were never alone for more than 24-hours. It always mystified me how this occurred, when I couldn’t even score a date to homecoming! Maybe because I wasted all my time pining after a certain rapping football player in a Santa-suit (see my September 12th blog for that humiliating story).
But I think my hellish high school experience had a purpose. Otherwise, I don’t think I’d have such a passion for writing novels that empower teen girls. Specifically, stories that provide hope that there is life beyond the impenetrable doors of high school. And that afterlife is amazing!
So how about you? Did you have a strong sense of identity in high school? What defines who you are now?