My ten year high school reunion is coming up. I'd always said I wouldn't attend, but now that the time has come I find myself reconsidering. I also find myself sleepless over the matter.
High school (or any year of K-12 school) wasn't what I'd describe as "the time of my life." Honestly, it was a miserable experience, and one I couldn't wait to leave. The days were filled with so much loneliness and so much hurt. I planned to graduate, attend college and make something meaningful of myself and never look back to that time or place.
I didn't "fit in" at any point in school. I was always dangling on the fringe of this society, but no one ever seemed to notice. Most days, I felt completely invisible. I had some friends, but they only stuck around long enough to spot someone else and they'd quickly leave.
I came to dread lunchtime in the cafeteria. I sat at the "reject table," which was a table comprised of others who didn't belong to a group of friends. You'd think that we would've banded together based on this commonality, but no, we were even rejected by ourselves. By senior year, I planned my schedule in such a way that I could skip the lunchroom experience and chose to eat my sad little sandwich in my car instead.
Pep rallies and other school assemblies were the worst. At the end of the day, groups of excitable friends would gather and enjoy this free time together. Yet, there I was sitting by myself in a crowded gymnasium. I felt humiliated every time. I planned my senior schedule to avoid being at the high school during this time as well.
It should be no surprise that I didn't attend football games or other social events. Why would I voluntarily put myself in the pep rally situation? However, one Friday night I did just that and would always wish I hadn't. My mother constantly nagged me about not being like other teenagers, especially my sister. My sister was very social, and was constantly focused on being with her friends. She attends football games. She has friends she hangs out with. I just needed to come out of my shell and try it. So I did. I found a few other individuals to attend the game with. We created sparkly t-shirts that spelled out our mascot, "Raiders." I was really going to do this up! As we walked to the game, however, I began to question my actions as cars honked, people pointed and laughed. The three of us that were walking side by side later looked down to realize that in our order our shirts spelled, "s-a-d." Great. We weren't at the game long before a group of popular kids who had also worn "raiders" shirts laughed, pointed and yelled, "Those losers think that can be cool like us! hahahaha!" All eyes were on us, and I knew then what I knew all along which was that I didn't belong there. I didn't attend another football game, not even in college.
Tennis was my outlet. I was known for being a hard hitter and able to keep up with the boys team. My ability to whack the fuzz off that ball, however, was completely fueled by anger. I hated everything and everyone associated with school. Home life was highly tumultuous as well. I had no other relief than the aggression with which I played the game. Eventually, that fuel ran out and I repeatedly came to a full meltdown on the court. When you already have problems at home and at school, the last thing needed is to have your vulnerabilities show. I walked to practice one day and quit. I cried all the way back to the house. I didn't know how to handle matters other than avoidance. I should mention that I was #1 and Captain of the team. I have always felt so ashamed and regretful of walking away. I always wished they could understand the ugly place I was in personally that led to that choice.
Quitting the team made matters in school worse. I now had even more people who disregarded me. I put up an "I don't care. I don't need anyone" front and focused on my studies. College would be my ticket out, and everything would be different. I spent all my time and energy on my classes and received the best grades I ever had. I gained a sense of pride from this accomplishment (and that would later be my fall in college). Yet, I was still deeply lonely, angry and depressed. I still didn't have friends at school, and I still had a difficult home and family life. Truthfully, there were days in which I daydreamed about hitting the gas pedal and plunging head-on off the road or into something. I desperately wanted to end it all. Thankfully, I never did. I tried to remember that college wasn't far way and once there I never had to return. (I never did. I've never even spent more than a couple of days at "home" since I left at 18). I chose a "dream school" college. It was a small, conservative Christian school. I wanted something completely different. I was somewhat familiar with Christianity, and so wanted to learn more. I've always said this school kept me alive because it kept me on the road on difficult days.
Why share so many unpleasant stories now- ten years later? Because now that the reunion is a couple of weeks, those stories and others are painfully fresh. A part of me actually wants to attend. A part of me wants to be a part of something I never was apart of. A part of me wants returning to be a triumphant overcoming. Another part of me is as nervous as nervous can be. I'm terrified of attending and then standing there alone. What will David think? He had a fantastic high school experience. This- this is my pathetic and embarrassing story. This isn't the side of myself or my life I'm not proud of. I'd rather him not come to know the "Such a loser" and "Such a dork" taunts. Geez, ten years later it all comes back so clearly. Yet, here I am actually debating attending. Here I am losing sleep over past memories and potential fears. I've got just a few days to decide. I'm not sure what to do. Stay? Go?