Finding my best teenage self 40 years after graduating
Throughout my childhood, adolescence and most of my adult life, I’ve been hindered by a nagging attitude that continually kept me from reaching my full potential. Through these years, I had a paralyzing feeling of inadequacy and not being worthy of much. My low self-esteem and introverted aspect on life was a thorn in my side pretty much from the get-go.
My high school years were no different. I was continually polluted by these feelings and attitudes. I didn’t seem to fit in with any of the groups of the time. I couldn’t relate to those of extreme intelligence, athletic ability or being popular.
Because of my low self- esteem and introverted tendencies, I pretty much wasted the majority of my high school years. While those around me were making the most of their time in high school, I isolated myself from such frivolous and counterproductive mindsets. “Dragging main” on Friday and Saturday nights garnered thoughts of wasteful and unnecessary squandering’s of one’s potential.
I’ve understood for some time that these seemingly useless activities are an integral part of a teenager’s life. By “being out there”, it provides the individual ample opportunities to encounter varied and different situations that, via these events, will be of great importance in that persons adult life. Plus, these happenings made for some great memories in later years and at class reunions.
Twenty years ago, I attended my 20th class reunion and, for the most part, reverted back to my high school days and became a wallflower clinging to whatever I could. Paralyzed with fear and isolationism, I wasted an opportunity to break the chains that had kept me from connecting with some of my classmates. I chastised myself for being a replica of my former teenager years and all the while, I was miserable and lonely once again.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend my 40th class reunion. In the 20 years since my last get-together, my life has taken an abrupt 180 degree turn regarding attitudes and self- esteem issues. I’ve become more social, less serious and a whole heckuva lot more fun to be around.
During the reunion, conversations with our class president/homecoming king were void of any feelings of inadequacies (I must admit that this prince-of-a-fellow made every effort to engage me in conversations in high school and I admired him for that then as I do now).
I had conversations with the homecoming queen and I wasn’t a bit nervous or shy. During our high school days, I put the “jock” of our class on a pedestal and thought he was infinitely more important and talented than me. I had several conversations with him this weekend as we talked of our families and reminisced about our involvement in Jaycee Little League Football with memories and a team photo of 45-plus years ago. I idolized him in school and now, it was as if I were his equal.
The class “talker” and insanely popular cheerleader lady was still a very nice person (and talker) and I enjoyed her spunk and good-naturedness. There were members of our class I perceived to be sarcastic and mean individuals but they weren’t anything like their former selves. All in all, I actually had a great time and I am glad I attended this reunion.
Ya know, time has a tendency to even the playing field regarding relationships and other social endeavors. It would be pretty easy for me to kick myself for not realizing this earlier in life. However, what’s past is dead and gone. The present has already been determined. What‘s really important is to move forward and not repeat incidents that one might regret later. Life is too short to live in the past. I’m glad I finally arrived on the other side of the equation; a place where life is much richer, interesting and enjoyable. I am glad even if it was 40 years in the making.
Allen Hrubes works for the Ranger-Review. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.