Tonight, my mom and I went to see "You Again"... the super silly movie about high school rivalries. Cute, fun, mindless.
Did I mention that I am at Hilton Head? And have I told you that this is where I came for Senior Week with my high school BFFs?
In the movie, like most high school movies, someone talks about how those 4 years were hell for them and how they were dying to get out. Here's my big "secret": I loved high school. Like, loved it with a big fat Sharpie red heart around it on my Trapper Keeper. Those of you who went to school with me might remember... it was super fun . I had amazing friends, was involved in 900 clubs, had the perfect (well, 2 perfect) church experience(s), dated some great guys, and all around just enjoyed it. I was one of the "good kids" (truthfully) and didn't have a drink until coming here... to this very spot... Senior Week in high school. Sitting a few hundred feet away from where I am right now, a boy named Josh asked me if I'd like a drink. I said "no". Then I thought about it... and said "maybe". The maybe turned into a "yes" and I chose a path that I would walk for the next year.
I lost a lot of my identity in those next 13 months... I teeter-tottered between who I really was and who I thought I should be to be "Fun Becky".
Let's go back just a little further than high school- Middle School SUCKED. I hated it. HATED it. And, yes, even now as I'm teaching Elizabeth that we don't use the word "hate"... it totally applies here. Sixth grade I entered Middle School not knowing anything about cliques. At my Elementary School just months before, the only cliques we had were the smelly kids and the non-smelly kids on the bus. (One more sidenote? Even now, God is calling me to hang with the smelly kids... so while I was unable to see it then, I should have chosen my seat on the bus differently. But I'd get there eventually...) So I walked in, unknowingly, to Enka Middle and began the precarious role of a girl who wanted to fit in. I remember my first day of school coming home and saying to my mom, "I need a curling iron... I'm not sure why, but I just know that I do." I began to curl my bangs (seriously... why?), I began to think more about where my clothes came from, and I began to blow off the people who would not "help" my social ladder climb.
I. was. miserable.
It was so much work... and it was not me.
Eighth grade, Mrs. Wagner pulled me aside and told me what she saw in me that I had to offer to the world and gave me the courage to "do" Student Council. (That decision alone made such a huge difference in my life... including leading me to my future husband... but that is a post for another day.) At this point in my school career, I made a decision to rest my tense shoulders and quit living for other people, but to just be... me.
Know what? It worked.
High school was a good time... and I enjoyed (most) every moment of it.
Then, Summer of 94 hit, and that decision to once again live for other people... had I not learned? The beginning of college for me was like a repeat of Middle School. I wasn't comfortable in my own skin. I began searching out who I "should" be... not who I really was. I constantly compared myself to other people- how they looked, their GPAs, their boyfriends... and I became, once again, not satisfied with who I was.
Through a series of events, I reclaimed my identity... and while it gets tweaked with time, I feel like I can truly say now: "What you see is what you get." I claim my awkwardness, my ridiculous mistakes, and my (in the words of Renee') actions that make the nuns blush.
But after seeing movies like tonight I wonder this: whose life did I jack up in high school? Was there someone I made feel "small" because of my words or actions? Was I part of the reason that someone else was dying to get out of EHS? If so, I am sorry. I am deeply and honestly sorry. While I can (in all 16-years-later-humility) say that I did run with the popular kids... I pray that I wasn't like the stereotypes I see in movies. I never saw us that way in the early 90s, and I'm hopeful that my (sketchy) memory isn't failing me here. But if I did leave a nasty impression on your high school experience... I am so, so sorry.
Tomorrow, I'll sit at the very pool we sat at in 1994 thinking we were tough stuff and so grown up... and I'll see sweet Elizabeth swimming there... and now, I'll say extra prayers for her future. I'll not just be praying that someone won't make her a Screwdriver on her Senior Week trip. (Who are we kidding? She won't be going! Or, she'll have her Mom, Aunt Misty, and Aunt Christy tagging along...) What I'll pray for her is that as she stumbles through adolescence she will be kind. She will be genuine. And she will be HERSELF... and be cool with that. It's so much easier that way.