Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Reflections, Misconceptions, Decisions

So yesterday I was Trolling through boxes I had not unpacked for over 10 years. You know "Those Boxes!" Well, these had been stored at my brother's warehouse and I had been looking for some of my Native American books, etc. and so Trolling I went. I found what I had hoped to find and along the way discovered my high school yearbooks. Being that I am 61 and classmates have been coming to my attention (mainly through the obituaries), I thought I should have this in my possession so I could look up pictures to match names.

This morning, I decided to travel down Memory Lane and opened the yearbook. Back in the 60's we actually wrote notes in the books. We got them the last week of school and friends and teachers took time out of each class to leave memories of good and bad times and well wishes for that summer at the beach and for the future. There snuggled in those pages were memories, some I would cherish forever and some written between the lines of how I viewed my self and others.

I arrived at Cave Spring High School in the 8th grade. This school was located in the predominately white upper middle class section of the Roanoke Valley in Virginia and was the place to live at that time (and still is pretty much!). We had lived on the "other side of town" in what really was considered the "wrong side of the tracks" if you know what I mean. So, Dad moved us in the middle of my 7th grade, but took me back to my City School to finish out the year. (Probably a big mistake, but looking back I understand as I was in Junior High living in the City, and Cave Spring 7th grade was still in the Elementary School.) Got that? Ok, so whatever the reason, it was known in the neighborhood that a new family had arrived and knew I was going to school in the City and had come from "over there!"

That stigma stayed with me throughout my entire high school years.

What didn't help was that I had a large overbite (later corrected at age 39), and the guy across the street who was in the "Popular" Group named me Horseface! That is how I entered the 8th grade of a new high school. I knew no one; I already had a reputation of being from the "trashy side of town" and I was nicknamed Horseface!

And so this morning, I made the trip down memory lane, reading the comments, looking at pictures and remembering how I felt so out of place. Or was I really?

If I was so out of place then how come there was not one space left in my yearbook that did not have a message written to me. And I realized there were many from those "popular kids" who I always wanted to be a part of but never was allowed in. And here were messages like: "You are a great person, Debbie and I really like how happy you are all the time. You are funny and have great looking legs! Wish we could have gotten to know each other better. Good luck!" All through were memories that stood out boldly of my upbeat personality, my great basketball skills, my amazing friendliness and hippie spirit. Lots of comments about my hippie spirit!

And I saw pictures of a girl I could say, "wow, how did you ever think you were ugly! You were one beautiful and sassy looking gal! Even in my ugly basketball uniform! It makes me wonder if it was me with the idea that I didn't fit all along and with that energy did I keep people (that being the "popular kids") away from me.

Now, I know how high school works. I watched it with my own kids (who happened to go to this very same school). There is this "popular group" mentality and you don't dare move out of it and try to be friends with someone who is "outside" of that group or "else." So, it was most likely coming both ways.

I had to laugh at myself as I made this journey back to 1968-1970! Oh how we embrace what we hear all around us: "you have to be perfect to be popular." But you know, as I walked through the pages of that yearbook, I suddenly remembered lots of laughs; lots of fun and most of all lots of very good memories. My best friends were great gals and the guys I was friends with treated me with respect and love!

Unfortunately, due to all of this, I made the decision to marry "one of the popular guys" from my school who had graduated 2 years before me. We met in 1971 and I had stars in my eyes that this guy would even speak to me, much less ask me on a date. He said one time, "you know I always wanted to meet you and ask you out in high school, but my friends would have laughed me out of the school. You always were having such a great time, laughing, being friendly and you were so pretty." I fell head over heals for this "popular guy from high school" and boy did I get surprised! What a mess up man he turned out to be. But that is not the story I am telling, is it?

The point is, we make decisions, as we are all wrapped up in misconceptions and self identity that is formed from outside of ourselves. It is a shame really and I am not too sure how to break that cycle. I tried with my son and daughter, but watched as the peer messages were truly more than I could combat.

What is wonderful about 61 is that I can look back and tell that High School Maiden that in fact she was amazing, beautiful, funny, intelligent, and could make great decisions. I can tell her that her future was nothing like every one thought, including her, but that it has really turned out magickally well! And for my kids, well, they too have seen how what happened in high school was just that and have moved on to make good decisions based a lot on what I tried to teach them during those turbulent years.

I am glad I brought my yearbook home. It will be a place I can go back to when I need to just smile a lot, or when I must say good bye again to a classmate as they move on to their next life after this one. It was a huge part of my formation; you see I gravitated to those "other" kids who students wouldn't give the time of day to. I formed friends easily and so I was not lonely. I had lots of dates, and the jocks were my friends even outside of the popular group cause you can break the rules when you are a jock!

High School! Well, we all go through it; and I think even the Popular Kids probably feel left out and lonely at times. How sad for them that because of that "group mentality" they were not able to spend more time with me! Really! They don't know what they were missing! I sure wish I had realized that then, but maybe I wouldn't have been the person I am now! Who knows! I thought I was going to be a Physical Education teacher and coach a college basketball team! So much for those "future" plans!

Reflections, Misconceptions, Decisions!

Blessed be!

(Graduation! I am on the Right with my best friend Andrea in the middle! Not sure who the guy is!)


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