My oldest granddaughter, now age 23, used to love to watch the series of movies on the Disney Channel when she was much younger called: “High School Musical.” She would pack a bag and come for a what she called a Courtney-Grammy weekend, and we would spend Saturday night curled up on the sofa, in our pj’s, with a bowl of popcorn between us, watching the trials and tribulations of the high school years in word and song … and dancing, lots and lots of dancing! It was like a daytime soap opera for teeny boppers set to music. They were all beautiful, and talented, and conflicted … and absolutely nothing like what I remembered of my high school years!
If elementary school is where we are introduced to the rest of the world, high school is where we struggle to find our place in it. We learn about cliques, the jocks, the geeks, the nerds, and the kids you wouldn’t be caught dead hanging out with (and pray you don’t end up as one of them). This is all in addition to actual academics and the need to learn, grow and achieve. Winning is everything and making the A list is crucial to our future, or so we are led to believe. High school is no picnic set to music.
The teen years are where we start searching for our tribe and our place of belonging. If we are to believe the media and those awful teen magazines that I gobbled up when I was that age, the only way to fit in is to look like the girls on the cover, say and do what they say and do, and adopt their group dynamics and belief systems. Even if inside we disagree with what they stand for, or for the kind of behavior they exhibit, we go along to get along. If we don’t, we are branded for life, or so we believe.
How is it, then, that years later as reasonably intelligent adults, we still go along to get along, believe the magazine covers, and are still searching for our place of belonging? If I see one more advertisement for some kind of procedure to eliminate wrinkles, I’m going to scream. Wrinkles are a part of life, just like hair that turns grey. Do we have to keep them? No. Will the world as we know it come to an end if we do? No, again. Does it affect who we really, truly are? Only if we are lying to ourselves the way we lie about our age and actual hair color. When do we stop being ashamed of who we are, and celebrate who we are?
We do not have to go along to get along any more. We are unique individuals, with boundless reservoirs of creativity, imagination and talent. We are one of a kind, thank goodness. How boring the world would be if we really all did look and act alike. It would be like the Stepford Wives x a few billion!
Writing about our high school years with honesty and the benefit of hindsight opens up whole new areas of opportunities and ideas for living an authentic life. If we are determined to create the life we were meant to live, we first have to heal the one we’ve been living. Writing helps us to see ourselves as we, and our peers, were then, and shows us the path we have traveled since then to who we are now. So go, write, have fun with it, and allow space for healing the past on paper as you also heal it within.
… and for heaven’s sake, don’t forget to write about the bell bottoms and Woodstock! That’s part of who we are, too.
Peace and blessings.