I want to start by giving you all an idea of how the world was when I was in high school. I graduated in 1983. We didn’t have cell phones, and our computers looked like this:
Madonna was still a virgin, the Brat Pack and Molly Ringwald ruled the screen and BIG hair was the look. Along with acid washed jeans, parachute pants, leg warmers and banana clips.
My memory of high school has never been great. I wasn’t the kid who had a “bestie” all through school that I still keep in touch with. In fact, I didn’t even have a best friend who lasted throughout my entire high school career. I had some good friends in 8th grade who were still my friends in high school, but we drifted apart, and weren’t such good friends by Sophomore year. I had different friends in Sophomore year than I had in Junior and Senior year.
I wasn’t particularly pretty or athletic. I was in the band, and in theater. I definitely was not part of the popular crowd. They sat at the lunch tables right next to the doors leading out of the cafeteria. I sat FAR from those tables.
I don’t remember hanging with the same crowd during the four years I was there, nor do I remember really having a great time. I was full of angst, making my mother crazy, getting into trouble and always pushing the limits.
There were “cliques” in high school, the jocks, the brains, the stoners, the cheerleaders, and the whole earth kids. I didn’t belong to any of those groups. In fact, I never really felt like I belonged anywhere. I tried to fit in, but never really did.
After high school I went into the Navy, left the town I grew up in and never really looked back. My parents lived there for a few years after I joined, so I would go back to visit them and would occasionally run around town, but I never reconnected with the kids I went to school with. Then my parents moved from Connecticut, and I haven’t been back since.
Of course we had high school reunions I knew about, but I never felt any desire to go. High school was not a fun time for me. Kids were mean to me. I was called names (I was large breasted and “two ton tittie” was a favorite of some). I was shunned and teased by my some kids in my homeroom class (thanks to one of my older brother’s girlfriends), and in my mind a reunion just meant more of the same.
As the years went by, technology changed, the internet was born, and a website called “Classmates” emerged. Of course I checked it out. I suppose it was my voyeuristic need to see what “everyone else” was doing. These were the early years of the internet, and unless you paid for a “gold” membership you really couldn’t see anyone’s profile. I did reconnect with a girl I had been friends with in 9th grade. I even went to visit her in Kentucky when I was driving through to go to an Amway conference. (Yes I did Amway, but that is a story for another day).
Fast forward a few years. The internet has grown, and Facebook was born. Of course, just like everyone else I jumped on the Facebook bandwagon, and got started. I reconnected with dozens of people from my years in the Navy, and then started slowly reconnecting to people from high school. Remember this was 2004, and by this time I was in my 39, as were all the other people I had graduated with. I have to admit I was surprised by some of the people who wanted to “friend” me. These people were not my friends in high school that I remembered. Some of them had not been very nice to me. Why did they want to be my friend now? It made me start to think that the kids who were mean to me didn’t remember being mean. I remembered.
Then a strange thing happened. Facebook started changing my memories. People would send me messages like, “when we were in high school you were always so friendly and always said hello to me. You were so nice.” Or, “I remember you talking to me when I was having a hard time, and you really helped me.” I even had someone send me a message that was, “I know you don’t know this, but high school was really hard for me, and you were one of the only people who was really nice to me. I will never forget that, You meant a lot to me. Thank you!” That one really floored me because I had no recollection of that event, but it solidified my belief that we don’t always know the impact we have on people, positive or negative.
I once described myself on Facebook as an “average Jane”, to which a classmate said my perception of myself was funny because she would describe me as anything but an average Jane. That surprised me as well. In fact recently I reconnected on Facebook with a classmate who is a successful author, blogger, freelance writer and radio show host. I had made a comment about the negative comments on the Huffington Post article I was in, and she said that she really liked the article and thought I always had something interesting to say! I was floored. I couldn’t believe she had even noticed me. She was a popular girl in school, and is a bestselling author today!
It made me realize that I wasn’t the only one who struggled and felt alone, or awkward. I was a nice person in school who had a positive impact on people’s lives. I am sure I probably had some negative ones also, but nobody has come forward to yell at me…… yet.
So this year when a 30 year high school reunion was announced, I decided to go. I have to admit I am a little nervous. The crowd I “hung out” with in school isn’t going, and I wonder if anyone will sit with me or talk to me. Just because they seem to like me on Facebook doesn’t mean they will want to talk to me in real life. Will they all be too busy with the high school buddies they have stayed friends with all through the years? Bluebell is going with me, and surprisingly my two teens want to go for the weekend as well, to see where I grew up, and hang at the beach.
Reconnecting with people on Facebook has given me the courage to go check it out and I think I will have a good time. It changed my perception of high school and the other people who wandered those halls with me. Now I will go see if my changed perceptions are true. Wish me luck!!
My high school yearbook, senior year
My high school mascot