When you see your child going to school, do you think back to your own school days? My son is in preschool. When I was a kid, I don’t remember any of the kids I knew going to preschool. In fact, I don’t know that “preschool” existed. All the moms in my neighborhood stayed at home as far as I knew with my friends. We’d all go ring each other’s doorbells to “play.”
I do, sometimes, wonder what school will be like for my son. Preschool is not something my son and I share. It’s very sweet and cute for me to see him go through it. But, I wonder what all the rest of school will be like. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. I have a hard enough time just keeping up with the present. But sometimes, I’ll think back and remember my own school days.
From time to time, I will come across people from the days of high school whose names I recall but who I never really knew, on Facebook. It’s a bit strange because we were people who passed the same halls, lockers, buildings, and classes but never spoke in class or hung out after school. They were strangers, gathering many of the same memories, in the same time, at the same place. Those memories that weren’t the same, were similar.
When I “friend” these people or they “friend” me, we open up our worlds to each other. It becomes amazing how we can bond over a shared memory, like the same silly English teacher, cruising down the same downtown streets, or eating at the same greasy food joints, known only to locals. We come together over the small stuff and discover where we’ve gone, what we’ve become, and our lives are richer for opening the doors to our pasts. People we barely knew then become special “Internet” friends and supporters. We cheer each other on, encourage each other and provide solace in times of need. We share jokes and laughs with people all over the world. It’s an amazingly good thing to feel those close ties with people so far away, make new friends, reunite with people from long ago, meet your relatives on the other side of the world.
But, a long time ago, before anyone knew there was an internet, before personal computers and cell phones, there was a young girl. She was melancholy. She was bubbly. Mostly, she was confused. With brown hair and eyes, she was fit and olive skinned and desperately wanted to fit in and have lots of friends. Sadly, she lacked confidence and social graces, much less a social network.
She had a Scandanavian/American father and a Korean mother. Their home was different ethnically from the vast majority of her nearly entire caucasian school population. Definitely different from “regular” TV families. She grew afraid to talk much because of teasing and bullying which had been part of her childhood that stuck rather solidly to her in high school.
She had difficulty fitting in with any particular group of friends. Some were too confident and athletic for her. They were better than her.
Some were too weird and had interests in things she had no interest in.
Some were too scary and cut classes and did drugs.
This young girl flitted between and flirted among friends in all of these groups, never really feeling comfortable with anyone but clearly seeing the division in all.
If I could go back in time and take her hand, knowing what I know now, I would instill in her a sense of confidence, one that comes with knowledge that things would change, that great things would come in time. I would tell her to study harder, especially in geometry and trigonometry. I would tell her to speak up and join the debate club. I would tell her to push her boundaries by confronting all her fears.
I would make sure she understood the importance of always telling the truth, especially to herself no matter how much it hurt. I would tell her to help those who did not seem to have friends and not to worry about what others saw or thought.
I would tell her to stop thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence because it isn’t. She has it really good and she should learn to appreciate what she has more than she does. I would tell her never to let go of her dreams because, she is right. They will come true – just not by magic- but by hard work and no fear.
I would tell her to invest in oil and a company called Apple.
I’d tell her that far into her future she will make a difference in the world and she will have the most beautiful son imaginable. I would let her know that her love for him will be beyond any understanding she could now have.
I wonder if she would listen to me. If she knew I was from the future, she might. But then maybe I wouldn’t be who I am today. What would you say to your high school self?
[This post was inspired by a weekly writing prompt from Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop – each week you pick from a list of prompts, post a link on Thursday – and check out what other writers have written. You can check Mama Kat’s website by clicking the red box on the sidebar of my blog or click here.
This week’s prompt was: “If you had to go back to high school, how would you do it differently?”]