High School Killed My Dreams.

Hallowed Ground

 

… High school is fascinating to me. Not the actual place. God knows, its not the classrooms we loved.

I mean the idea of high school.

And judging from the countless American TV shows, profiting from its setting, I’d say most of you are too.

We have this weird obsession with it in America.

[see Friday Night Lights, Saved by the Bell, Glee, Beverly Hills 90210, Gossip Girl, Dawson’s Creek, Smallville, Degrassi, One Tree Hill, The O.C., Boy Meets World, Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, Veronica Mars, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Gilmore Girls, That 70’s Show, Zoey 101]

I mean, it has its high points — don’t get me wrong. But I think high school is more overrated than Jeopardy reruns and slightly less educational. I think of it like one giant time warp. You look forward to it as a kid, itching for status and social catapult. But when it finally arrives (at a droolingly slow pace), you’re mostly bored by it or rebelling against it. It’s always one or the other, I’ve found.

Of course, graduation is the golden goal on the horizon, promising freedom and fewer “fake” people.

One second you’re wishing this exact thought from the confines of an uncomfortable wooden desk, the next…

…in a swirling flash, time speeds up exponentially. And its gone. A thousand cameras are strobing across the crowd, causing epilepsy, annoying foghorns and “atts ma baby!” eminate from over-eager, balding parents in a baking hot stadium, as you’re counting down the minutes, sweating under clothing , a cap, AND a silk prairie-length dress, while the distinguished speaker is mumbling do-nothings you won’t remember and don’t even hear right now, as you whisper jokes with your friends, excitedly making plans to expand your gut with inhuman amounts of booze later that night.

And every moment of your life after this is spent squinting, reminiscing, searching, trying to squeeze out and soak up the last droplets of life onto a passionless tongue.

And this is the story of how every one of us lifted high school on a pedestal– not just the football jocks and cheerleaders. This is the towering soapbox we climbed on top of, only to find we couldn’t get down.

 

The “best years of your life”

I HATE the phrase old(er) people use– “The best days of your life,” when referring to school. God I hope not. That’s incredibly sad, pessimistic, hopeless…and downright depressing. You’re telling me, that everything after mandated education was downhill? This time of preparation was meant help you achieve your dreams, not give up on them. THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE WHERE IT STARTS, NOT ENDS! We’ve set ourselves up for a letdown!

Sorry, didn’t mean to yell. Honest. But you have so much more left to do.

I don’t buy into the phony-ass story that the “golden days” are high school and college–that it doesn’t get better than that folks. No. If you’re 20 or 60, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t. Unless that’s your choice. Unless you have that outlook… you’re right—you probably won’t seek anything more exciting than a teacher prodding you in the ass with a ruler, after you paid them to do just that. (with tax money you pervs)

Personally, from my experience of the past four years, I can validate the notion America packages and markets the “college experience.” We’ve capitalized on the industry to sell the fun side to kids.  Awesome. Because just what our Workaholics generation need is more false , shallow motivation for progress in life.

Jesus Christ, its no wonder we live in this high school fantasy! We have told ourselves there’s nothing worth living for, nothing worth doing afterwards.

We’ve created an almost mythical culture around these pubescent, moody little bastards who spend more time searching for a way to delude homework assignments, covering up zits with modern medicine, adjusting their bra padding for uneven breasts, crafting flirty-ambiguous text messages to the opposite sex, or watching after-school TV specials of high-schoolers (also learning how to coolly mask the awkwardness).

Friday Night Lights

Take a second look at those glossy warm memories. You might actually remember they weren’t as sexy-cool as the culture showed us on television.

21st century guide to decrypting the high school equation:  Gossip Girl -90% of the sex + Zach Galafankis awkwardness= Reality

The majority of  kids walking those halls don’t feel like gods.

That is, unless Aphrodite secretly used Proactive.

But I know, at least in the south, where I grew up, people treat them otherwise…… [Man I’m going to get crap for this one]

 

Your God Banks Wherever You Deposit Your Hope

People attend high school football more religiously than church. Go watch the movie, Friday Night Lights. It’s a great example of how seriously we take this “sport” in Texas. For most towns, big or small, Friday is the highlight of the week. Why? Simply because some of us have never left. Now, don’t laugh. I know it sounds generic and trite, but it’s true on a deeper level.

Stick with me here. Some of us never left, at least in our heads we didn’t.

I learned this lesson the hard way when I was 10 and my father had his “mid-life crisis,” as we’ll politely put it. (or more affectionately, his “asshole re-dedication decade.” We all have our hobbies.)

He was the epitome, the raging stereotype of a father reliving his glory days through his kids. I wasn’t dumb to that. I hated it. Long story short, I ended up quitting all my high school sports to “stick it to him,”and  although it wasn’t the most emphatic method, it solved the problem.  Well, let me summarize my childhood:

 

I was the most timid, unathletic, big-footed “All-American” there was. I played triple-threat sports, of some sort, all my childhood. Sometimes four. Not because I was a “jock.” Most days, I had absolutely no idea why I was enrolled in them. It was just always….there, growing up. I was the kid that goofily tripped over his shoes and sprained ankles in basketball, because I wore a size 13 shoe at the age of 15. I was the skinny 17 year-old kid who learned to box by getting wailed on and knocked out enough times when the instructor wasn’t around. I was the sentimental boy old who quit baseball –’cause I sucked so bad- my coach cussed me out, after catching a  pop-up to left-center field… with my face. (dear Coach Jackass, I just want you to know that I wasn’t crying because it hit me and I was 12. The sun was in my eyes…..!) I was the “that guy” who was far too uncoordinated and didn’t grasp the embarrassingly simple concept of soccer, so I was stuck in as goalie– for the whole season. Every year. I was the kid who lied to my parents and told them I liked volleyball, just so I could talk to the girls on the co-ed team and look cool. I was the kid in the gym who benched the bar, pretending I wasn’t struggling; I was just sweating rivers because I was “warming up”.

 

(It’s okay to laugh at this, my friends, if you know me. You know I’m half-chuckling as I write this. Puberty was not kind to me. In fact, if puberty is a high school student, it’s the huge douchey football player who gives you swirlies while you gargle murky water and beg him, “Please sir, may I have anotha’?”)

I think this plan of my father’s to “make a man out of me” or….something or another…..may have backfired. Hahaha If he was searching for a son to live vicariously through, I may have killed that dream. You might as well have given him a gay son, who enjoyed collecting butterflies and naming each one after characters in Glee.”

I feel like these are the confessions of blasphemy, as I write them. I know they will undoubtedly piss some people off.

But I digress, this is not about the culture of America’s sports fanatics. Athletics can be good or bad, constructive or demeaning, according to the setting and purpose. I only want to point out that some of us never left high school. We relive it and relive it and relive it and relive it and relive it, and when that gets old, we relive it through our kids

And while some of did leave….. technically… I still question whether it was with anything useful. We didn’t have any actual skills. We didn’t go backwards, but we didn’t go forwards. After cheating on all those tests, the real world and freedom wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. In our generation, commonplace is graduation from high school, and even college is the norm. To get a good job, they now say you need a Master’s. You can see this shift between my grandma’s generation and mine own.

What happened to the age when people couldn’t wait to get out of high school, to finally get on with the rest of their lives?

Don’t buy into “the best years” line.

That’s a lie made up by bitter people, full of regrets for not chasing after their own dreams, who want you to share in their misery.

 

As I transition into the weird phase of post-college-grad with nothing to my name, to “the real world” and prepare for my cross-country trip, I’ve been thinking about this.

It will change your whole outlook and attitude. It’s really that simple. 

You have so many more pages left to write. Really. Believe that.

I know I do. Heck, I’m just getting started. If you don’t believe just yet, I’ll show you.

Don’t let where you grew up define whether you continue to grow up.

Believe me, I’m not unaware that some of us feel “stuck” at this place in life. That feeling we have nothing to hope in or look forward to. So we end up looking back….

But please, don’t let high school kill your dreams.

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Categories: Life Writing | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “High School Killed My Dreams.

  1. J. Nashuka Holisso

    Yakoke!

    • In my native language: You’re most welcome. 😉

      I’d love to hear what resonated with you about this post. I realize we all had different views of what high school looked/felt like.
      As always, thanks for the support and feedback Junior.

      • Hehe. My bilingual kanomi. (ask Little Joe Jefferson) I’m thinking on this and will let you know because I know we had some similar experiences and many not so similar. And now, in the ‘real world’ I have some observations. I promise I will reply. I have to say that I really enjoy your postings. I like your attitude and your insights. I’ve a lot more to say. Can I e-mail you? I chose naknihomma for the gravatar. It simply means redboy.

  2. Josh H

    Wholeheartedly agree! It is a creepy voyeuristic obsession among disillusioned and discontented adults. I always feel so sad whenever someone says that high school is/was the best years of their lives.

    • Well said Josh. Well said. I suppose I could have just had you summarize my post in two sentences! haha
      Thanks for the input.
      Glad to know I’m not the only one hearing that phrase.

  3. Allison

    I’ve always said, “If the best years of your life were in the past, you’re doing it wrong.” 🙂
    Right now, I’m just trying not to let college kill my dreams. 😐

    • Oh most definitely. This post applies to college students as well, for sure.
      I like your phrase “If the best years of your life were in the past, you’re doing it wrong.” I may have to start using that.

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