For Spring Break of my senior year of high school, I took a trip to Florida with my parents. It was a fine trip, and I greatly enjoyed it. But once I returned, I found that I no longer wanted to be in school.
This was a new mindset for me. While I will never declare high school to be “the best years of my life,” I wasn’t completely miserable either. I was neither the most popular kid in school nor a friendless outcast. I probably should have had more, or at least closer friends, but at the time, I wasn’t great at knowing who my people were.
Most of my social problems were self-inflicted as I often tried to be “weird.” If I had to place myself into one of The Breakfast Club’s defined social roles, it would be Ally Sheedy’s “basket case,” but even that doesn’t truly fit. (Honestly, my behavior in high school probably merits a post of its own.)
I had actually enjoyed much of my senior year up until that point. But upon returning from Florida, something changed. Every morning, I woke up feeling sad, and I dreaded going to school. I barely talked to anyone, and I think I only did the bare minimum to get by academically.
There was no definitive cause for the change. I wasn’t doing poorly in my classes, I wasn’t being bullied, and I wasn’t having girl problems. (Aside from my longstanding issue of having no clue how to speak to them.) The problem may have been that Spring Break essentially marks the “home stretch” of the school year, and it dawned on me that I was in my final semester of grade school. Realizing that I was so close just made me desperate to reach the end.
I think I was sick of doing the same exact thing for four straight years. I was sick of seeing all of the same people every day. I think I just wanted to move on to something new.
I don’t often see people from high school these days, and I’m mostly happy about that. It disturbs me to see people my own age looking like middle-aged men and women. I’ll sometimes see a classmate and think, “Wow, he looks old…Do I look that old?”
Seeing my old classmates also brings feelings of regret. I see some of these people and I think, “If I had acted differently, maybe I could have been friends with them.” Maybe I’d have better memories from those years, and I would actually look forward to going home and catching up with old friends.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that at the very end, I may have started to realize my potential. About a week before graduation, my mood suddenly turned again. I was no longer filled with sadness about high school. Suddenly, I was personable and sociable and actually talked to people in a normal, friendly manner.
Maybe being at the very end removed all the pressure from my shoulders. I think I finally just stopped caring how I’d be viewed or how people would see me because no matter what happened, it would only last for another week. Maybe I just finally felt free to be myself.
I suppose I wasn’t the first school student who had trouble finding their place, and I’m pretty certain I wasn’t the last either. The good news is that I was able to move past it and actually enjoy my time in college. (Although I have my share of regrets from those years as well.)
How do you feel about your high school days? Do you look back at them fondly? Are you filled with regrets? Do you think about your old classmates and become filled with thoughts of murderous rage?