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Once Upon An Identity Crisis…

More often than not, high school felt like my first taste of freedom.

There was nothing organic about my high school experience and I often found myself disgustingly uncomfortable in my own skin. I hated myself. I was judgmental. I was unmotivated and most of all, I was un-able to consider that I was any of those things. I credit my “popularity” initiation to my eye-liner-wearing, badass big sister along with the community adored hockey player boyfriend I had somehow managed to snag myself. I spent my afternoons bored in class, waiting for the weekend so I could dedicate hours to getting dolled up to go sit at a hockey rink while sipping on a Canadian Cooler. To me, this was what life was all about. It was the summer after Grade 10 and as all good things come to an end, so did my easily obtained popularity. I had lost all my friends and my boyfriend, my sister graduated and I was just another teenage girl who was unimportant.

Royally destroying my social status was one of the best things I ever did. I later joined the drama club. Perhaps, by luck,  I found myself in the company of the most incredible people I’d likely ever known and to this day some of my favorite moments belong to the hours I spent with them. These people taught me many life lessons, one of them being that it was okay not to love Luke Bryan. A Cold Day In Hell was the play we performed that year and the day they graduated and left me behind, it was, indeed. The next year, I sat front row in a Bio class in an attempt to save my academic fate when I found myself next to the remarkable Jill Quinney. Jill was brilliant, loved by everyone and most importantly; she didn’t give a shit about who I had once been. She forced me to like myself every day, just by simply liking me for who I really was. Jill Quinney was the best thing that could have ever happened to my severely damaged self esteem… and my science average.

During graduation, you remember sitting on the stage, surrounded by your best friends, fighting tears as your favorite teacher reads carefully picked inspirational quotes about the success you’ll obtain the moment you leave that gym. You hold hands with the person next to you, hanging on to memories you will carry in your heart for the rest of your life. Except that’s not how it happened for me – not at all. I was sitting there, trying not to look directly into the bright spotlight that was slowly melting the skin off my face as I struggled to recall a single moment that I would miss. High school was brutal and at often times, it hurt like hell. More often than not, high school felt like my first taste of freedom. Maybe high school is just a painfully important process and we can leave it at that.

 

Payten

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