|or not! (image not mine)|
Facebook** has allowed for me to get close to people that I probably would have written off after high school was over, and never talked to again. I thank it for that because I am someone that always wants to give people second chances, and I've been blessed to meet people again at a different place in their life. Unless you were the most popular kid in high school, you probably look back at those years and cringe at the clothing you wore, the crap you said, and the attitude that you had. I know I do. I was annoying as all hell. I probably still am, but people seem to complain about it less now. I'm also...happier now. Numerous people have commented on this over the past decade. I wonder how chronically miserable I was. My teen years had happy moments, but there was so much stress, desire to escape and it felt like I had no one to talk to. There was this chronic cloud hanging over me as I just prayed that people wouldn't make fun of me and humiliate me that day. I gave up band my senior year because I couldn't deal with being bullied (private lessons though? Best decision ever). My history teacher wasn't kidding when he said I wore my heart on my sleeve.
High school was only bearable because I had friends that didn't care if I talked too much. They didn't care about my clothing. I had no money or fashion sense, and that's a deadly combination in high school. They didn't care about my hair, which probably always looked awful because I suffer from dandruff and didn't learn what a flat iron was until college. Looking back...I really was a hot mess, but also fortunate to meet some amazing non judgmental people that I still consider some of my closest friends.
When facebook came around I didn't know if I wanted to invite any of the 'popular' kids to be my 'friends' but my brief time on myspace showed me that with a little life experience under our belts, most of us turned out to be really decent people. A high school friend's ex boyfriend and I had some great conversations, and even found our significant others at the same time, and were able to share this joy with each other after reconnecting on myspace. He was an idiot teenager, but a nice adult.
My first realized how much life had changed when I started reading a couple of blogs of women that I had attended high school with. The first was a woman that blogged about being a single parent to a beautiful little girl. Since I moved 500 miles away for college, I totally missed that she wasn't with her high school boy friend anymore and all of the sudden (in my mind) had a two year old. Her blog chronicled the difficulties of being a single parent while working and attending school, but also how she rose up to those challenges and kicked their ass. She ended up moving recently and when I asked about her blog she replied that it was "written for a different time in her life, and that time is over." When I see how happy she is now, I smile to myself, understanding how far she has come. Her blog was one of my gateway drugs to blogging. I got hooked her's and soon after I started reading it, got more serious about my own blogging. It really helped me see how we had changed since high school. We had been sort of friends in middle school (conspiring over nano pets, and our shared dislike of our English teacher). High school, she got more popular, and I got more annoying, either of caring enough to be empathetic to the other's situation.
Another blog that I still religiously follow is the blog of the sister of one of my classmates. Oh how I wanted to be her. Cute, petite, perky and popular. Do our feelings as teenager generally go past envy and jealousy? When I found her blog she had recently suffered a miscarriage, and I just wanted to cry for her. But then, she was pregnant again, and through her blog I got to see her joy and belly grow. Then I witnessed the birth story and pictures, and over the last year have watched her daughter blossom. Seriously? Her daughter is insanely adorable.
What prompted me to write this entry was being recently invited to join a group on facebook for girls that wanted to get in shape. It was started by a woman that my brother was actually friends with first. It was startling to hear the tales of these women that I envied in high school because they were thinner and more popular than me, discussing having the same issues, the same struggles, and the same heartache in their journey to lose weight that I've had.
The moral of the story? Give people a second chance. Allow them to have some time to grow up. I needed it. In the past, 10 year class reunions were a chance to diet frantically for the months leading up to it, buy your sexiest dress, go get drunk and accidentally slip up and admit that you cheated on so and so with so and so's boyfriend. It was a one night thing that might lead to some renewed friendships but mostly, it seems to me, was an opportunity to show off pictures of your kids and how skinny you had gotten while feeling vindicated about how the popular kids got fat. One night. One night isn't a second chance, it's barely enough time for people to want to spend time in the same room again. Instead of one night, I've gotten 7 years of watching people graduate from college, get married, have children, build businesses and grow up. I've had an opportunity for friendships that I wasn't ready or able to have years ago, and the freedom to walk away. When I go to my class reunion, instead of feeling awkward, I'll be able to see a room of friends. We can skip the bit about showing off, and just catch up.
**Note: This wasn't meant to be a facebook is awesome post. Yes, facebook has some serious downsides, like their business morals and privacy sharing but it has changed the reality of my generation. I don't think that facebook has killed class reunions, but instead made them a much more enjoyable, less stressful affair. I can finally keep in touch with family that I haven't seen in years, and watch through pictures and videos, their children growing. This to me is pretty amazing. I can do it through google + too, and have been, so this ability to reconnect isn't strictly a facebook ability.
Sorry for typos--spell check hates me, and I can't proofread very well.