Thursday, June 2, 2011

When it comes down to it, we really aren't that different

I recently had the opportunity to speak to someone whom I went to high school with, and with whom I have had no contact with for 25 years. We had the most amazing conversation on the phone for 2 hours! We talked about our families, what we are doing now, and of course, what we remembered from high school.

Let me give you a little background first of what I remember as an adolescent trying to fit into a world where I was lost and scared.

During the early 80’s I went to a HUGE high school in Houston, Texas in 9th and 10th grade. There were so many students, that the teachers really didn’t know us personally. I had to remind my teachers what my name was on the occasion I asked for help.

If you didn’t fit into a certain group or clique, then you really were known as a loser or a loner. The most popular cliques, were the popular crowd, athletics, band, and choir. I was not involved in any of those. I was not popular, but knew some of the popular kids. I was not into any sports and I did not participate in band or choir. Instead, I was in orchestra and played the cello. That might be neat now, but back then, it was looked upon as stupid and nerdy.

My friend lived just a few houses away from me, and after school and during the summers we spent a lot of time together. We went to camp together, we went to the beach, and we hung out at each other’s houses. I thought she was amazing and I really liked spending time with her. When we were in school however, it was a different story. There was an unspoken rule that we would not communicate during school hours. I was not in her crowd, and if she spoke to me, her “friends” would most likely say something about it to her.

I went to this particular school for two years, and due to many negative choices I made for myself because of my depression and anxiety of not fitting in, I transferred to a private school downtown. I flourished at the new school and the ugly, shy caterpillar was now a beautiful butterfly. The change made a world of difference in my life.

Anyway…as I stated earlier, I recently spoke to this friend over the phone for 2 straight hours. We laughed, and joked…cried and laughed some more. We talked about the old days, and to my surprise, she felt alone and depressed as well during high school and actually hated the school.

What? This girl…who was beautiful, talented, and popular felt as if she didn’t fit in? Was I hearing right?? She explained to me, that in order to stay in that particular group as she was in, you had to abide by the group rules. She said it was hard on her…but she did it because she wanted to fit in. She was the party girl, the jokester, and made everyone laugh. She stated that she had to be this way, in order to maintain an image that was already set in place. She was miserable, and I was miserable, and neither one of knew that about the other. We talked about the unspoken rule we had during school, and she must have apologized a zillion times about that. I hold no grudges. We are in our 40’s now and we have reconnected, so it’s all ok with me.

I have actually befriended some of these people on face book now, and they are nothing like they were in high school. I honestly do not think that some of them realize the pain and depression that was caused by their actions. I do not hold any grudges toward any of those people either. Being a teenager can be tough by itself, let alone having to abide by certain rules just to fit into a category you feel is important at the time.

Lessons here:

Do not judge a book by its cover. The ones who are outwardly happy all of the time, might just have a personal issue that you are not aware of. Don’t make an assumption about a person or a group of people, just by what you think is going on.

Let bygones be bygones. Do not hold a grudge against people you may have had an issue with for over 20 years. That is unhealthy and causes more inner turmoil.

Take a look at your own life, and stand up for others. The issues that have been presented here, are most likely the same sort of issues that teenagers face all over the world. Keep your eyes open, your ears open and step up to help someone who is depressed or is being bullied by social isolation.

To my friend whom I have reconnected with…....thank you. Thank you for showing me that your life wasn’t as perfect as I thought it was. Thank you for being honest with me and sharing your story. You have really shed a light onto something that has been perplexing me for many years. I hold no grudges, and I want you to know that I love you dearly. I hope the next 20 years, we will be friends as if the time away from each other never happened.


1 comment:

  1. Hi..I'm the friend. I think I cried both tears of sadness and of joy while reading this. I really think Amy has told the story of our crazy high school experiences well. If we only knew then what we know now (on so many different levels). If we only knew of each other's pain, maybe we could have helped each other, because deep down inside, we were more alike than we ever knew...
    Amy and I had the most amazing conversation the other night. Yes, we laughed, we cried, but it was wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. I have such love and respect for Amy and her commitment to what she does. For a person not to hold grudges not only against me, but to my other "friends" who may not have been the kindest to her shows both compassion and bravery.
    I love you Amy
    Your're amazing..your true friend,