High school is one of those things where you either loved your experience or you absolutely dreaded it. “If coach would have put me in, we would have won that game.” The glory days or the days of hell, it’s all about perspective.
After the convenient flooding of my basement (kidding) I was forced to go through boxes I hadn’t opened in 10 years. As I flipped through each photo album, I came across familiar faces of people I have known since I was 5 years old. Friends that I spent precious moments crying, laughing, trouble making, and setting record-breaking fun. It would be safe to say that high school seemed to be a pleasant experience. It was all there in the pictures. Proof was in the pudding.
I fooled us all.
I remember the first hate mail I received after winning Miss Indiana USA. I was expecting it, as the sport of pageantry isn’t for everyone. However, this wasn’t someone complaining about the lack of coverage on my swimsuit, this was someone who truly claimed to hate me. You guessed it—she was from high school. The letter went on about how fake I was. In a nutshell, apparently I thought I was better than everyone else and I’ve used people to get to where I am today. I did my best to brush it off and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. This was the first of many hurtful words from various people. It’s a fact of life that some people cannot stand to see others succeed.
I know I have had my moments and I am far from perfect, but I don’t want anyone to think such things of me. It really made me reflect on my actions the past 10 years. What could I have done to make someone speak so poorly of me, out for the public to see? Was I, in fact, fake?
Let’s work through this together.
I, too, showed up to school every day just like every one else. I wore the clothes that resembled the mannequins at the mall. I was going out with the star football player. I held positions on the varsity basketball team, volleyball, team, track team, cheerleading team, marching band, national honor society, the class office. In my free time I worked at the hottest restaurant and continued to stay active in the community with 4-H. Not only that, but I hung out with the top students and athletes of my class and I was considered to be “pretty” on the phantom scale. I was your typical high school popular girl and I can only imagine the eye-rolls happening right now.
I’ve worked hard in my adult life to prove to the world that I am much more than the above accolades. It even seems silly now that I feel the need to explain myself but I have a feeling that I am not alone in this.
Every single day of high school was a struggle.
What I didn’t allow my classmates to see were my real struggles. They didn’t know that I was in counseling because I had self-confidence issues. Not because of some pretty magazine cover but because a bad man decided to introduce me to sex when I was 7 years old. I brushed off all of the times I got made fun of for always having a long-term boyfriends because it turned out that I felt a deep desire to be wanted since most of the men in my life were unreliable and left when things got hard. I pretended not to be offended when my friends made fun of the fact that I didn’t like to drink. They didn’t realize that I my family was torn apart from the aftermath of drugs and alcohol.
The carefully chosen designer outfits were not brand new; they were purchased from second-hand stores and my neighbor’s hand-me-downs. My classmates had no clue that getting on the National Honor Society required hours of tutoring and after-class sessions with my math and science teachers. I was deathly afraid of reading out loud (still am) and the phrase “popcorn reading” still makes me break out in a cold sweat.
My classmates didn’t know about the hours I spent in supervised visitation rooms, psychiatrist offices, or writing letters to incarcerated family members. They didn’t realize that every time we got a new student, I dreaded having to explain why I lived with my grandmother and where my parents were. They didn’t know about the nights where I cried myself to sleep all because I wanted the pain in my heart to go away.
So let’s answer the question together; was I fake in high school? Hell yeah I was fake!
I, like so many others, was just trying to keep it together. I simply wanted to be accepted by the majority; to seem NORMAL. No, I wasn’t being real because I didn’t even know what real meant.
“I went to high school with her. So fake.”
I hope those 9 words made you feel better about yourself. Yes, I saw that you shared it for the world to see and no, it didn’t make me feel bad. If anything I feel sorry that you are stuck in the past and have not learned to grow from those experiences.
Let’s move on already. We need to stop putting each other down at every opportune moment.
The next time you are quick to judge someone based off of their appearance, their actions, or their lifestyle just remember that they may be like me. They may be fighting a battle that you will never see. Open up your heart to forgiveness if they did you wrong or if you didn’t get along. High school is hard for everyone and our experiences walking those halls do not define us as human beings.