Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1991...

On Saturday night, I was so proud to walk into my 20 year High School Reunion with 3 beautiful ladies who have been in my life for all these years.
ang, linda, gil and anne
High School Reunions are a funny old thing, aren't they? People's reactions to them are many and varied. Am I skinny enough, successful enough? Will people remember me? Will I remember them? So, after some yummy Mojitos for courage, we hit that venue with a mixture of fear, dread, ambivalence, humour, anxiety and some kick ass make up jobs!!
I have always thought that I was an outcast in school. That people thought I was  freak and an ugly loser. I decided fairly early on that if I couldn't be the pretty girl, I would be the weird girl. Attention is attention, right? But then I started to resent the persona I had created. I didn't want people to shout 'Freak' at me when I walked through the shopping centre. I didn't want to be known for my changing hair colour, or my hippy clothes. I didn't want to be different. But I wanted to be noticed. So, I was kinda trapped. Mostly in my own  self defeating, insecure, depressed head.

 BUT, surprisingly, I was totally cool with attending the reunion. I sought no approval or acceptance from these people. I didn't care what they thought of me or my life. I am happier in 2011 than I have ever been in my life.

....and despite the fact that I am probably 25kg heavier than I was at school, I thought I looked awesome!!

AND, over the years I have realised that:

 1) Teenagers are mean. Some were mean to me. But a lot weren't I had some awesome experiences in high school and made some life long friends (see above picture of Yummy Mummies). But kids are just kids, each trying to get though without getting hurt.. and sometimes, in doing that, they hurt others

2) Teenagers are self involved. All the people I thought were thinking I was a loser and a freak were probably too busy thinking about themselves and worrying about what I thought of them.

3) Being different is awesome. I have always sought to teach this to the Awesome Teenager, and as I watch him navigate the treacherous waters of high school with such style and aplomb, I wish I had had his confidence and sense of self. 

I remember telling Max when he was about ten and going through some tough times at school that all the coolest people that he loved- John Lennon, Weird Al Yankovic, Ross Noble, Napolean Dynamite-they struggled in school. They were outcasts, they weren't the cool kids. And look at them now.

So, little High School Reunion, you were a little bit lame, a little bit fun, a little bit cringy and a little bit awesome (catching up with the beautiful Ms Hunter-Smith!). 

Some of us are older, some are the same, some are gone and some of us are sending little messages back through the years to our 17year old selves... telling them.......
"It will get better. You are beautiful. You can do and be anything you could possibly imagine. Don't be scared. Don't be complacent. Ask for help when you need it. You will be happy and you will be loved. You are not a freak."

High School is such a fleeting moment in our lives, why does it have such power over us, even 20 years later?

x Gillian

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