The summer before high school, a family friend and coworker of my Dad’s company had told me something that would truly help me come out of my shell. Though, I don’t think she meant for me to take it to the level I had ultimately taken it.
“Oh, high school is fun,” she said, with the last syllable drawn-out. “I know how it is being your age, even if you can’t picture me being that young!”
While she laughed behind her desk, I stood before her with gritted teeth—anxious and confused while lost in the generational gap she’d placed me in. Until she kindly brought me back by reaching her point:
“If you ever feel down or left out, just remember—” she paused while I waited for the most honest thing I’d ever been told.
“None of it matters. Nothing in high school is important. Plus—” She stopped again and looked to see if my Dad was close by, then leaned toward me and whispered “…everyone’s full of shit.”
I smiled, the result of her contagious laughter. I didn’t fully understand who or what she really meant by that—the students? the classes? the teachers? Certainly not my friends!
“Just have fun, kid. That’s all that matters.”
It was that last bit that would become my emotional guide, until that ‘fun’ became something a little different:
The start of freshmen year had a similar feel reminding me of the sixth grade, but I was older, not at all wiser, but with a better attitude. The attitude where if I’d see any asshole who’d nearly bludgeoned my esteem to death the previous year, they’d be welcomed with a loud “Fuck You!” Or, maybe I’d just ignore them.
This was a new start, and I had my friends again. Walking through the school’s front doors, I was ready and prepared for a new year. This feeling lasted about two seconds however, after the first bell rang at 9 am, when herds of people swarmed the hallways. With eyes closed, I could feel myself being trapped in the middle of a massive school of fish. Even sharks.
The bodies, backpacks, and high-pitched chaos of everybody’s voices stacked on top of one another, nauseated me. I couldn’t even see where I was going. Everyone was at least a foot taller than me.
My heart began thumping quicker than normal and at that instant, I knew the fear and insecurities that had plagued me the year before were back—with a vengeance.