I did something yesterday that I haven’t done in over ten years. When I was unpacking boxes in the garage, I came across my yearbook from my Junior Year of High School, and I sat down and read it. This was the year I moved from Stillwater, Oklahoma to a suburb of Chicago, so the title of the yearbook, “redefine” is of great significance looking back.
When I opened the cover I had a pit in my stomach, but when I started reading the notes, something odd happened. I felt love emanating off the pages. In the scribbled messages (even from the people I thought were “too cool”) are genuine well-wishes. Genuine love and decency and friendship. I think I’m only able to see it all these years later because I didn’t really like myself back then so I didn’t expect anyone else to. I have only a handful of people I’m still in touch with from my last two years of high school. For a long time now I’ve thought I went to high school with mostly a bunch of jerks. Now that I’m looking at it through clearer eyes, I think I might have been the jerk this whole time.
You know how people say, well I wasn’t always perfect “but I wouldn’t change a thing!” I think those people are liars. Who wouldn’t love to go back and handle a situation with more grace and dignity? Who wouldn’t love to go back and speak up? I understand seeing the silver lining in the decisions that brought you to your current situation, but what does it say about you that you wouldn’t change a thing if you COULD…I just can’t relate to that.
I would change HUNDREDS of things if I could. I never would have made fun of Aaron in 6th grade. It was mean and out of character and I’ve always regretted it. I STILL would have pathetically followed my high school boyfriend to college because that’s what eventually led me to my besties, but I wouldn’t have waited so long to end it. I would listen more. I would be more forgiving. I would chill out and get off my high horse. I would let things roll off my back instead of holding on to them for years. I would use fewer metaphors. (Note to self for future posts.)
And I’m proud to say that I’ve realized how stuck up and self absorbed and closed-off I was, because it means I’ve changed. I’ve grown. I’m a better version of myself.
Oprah always says “when we know better, we do better.” I don’t believe in making yourself sick dwelling on where you went wrong (there are prescriptions to cure that.) But I do believe in acknowledging the times in your life you wouldn’t be proud to see again. I sometimes think that’s all Hell really is. It’s just a big screen repeating a loop of actual things you did that you wish you could take back, played in front of everyone you don’t want to disappoint.
We are all works in progress. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you wish you could change something in your life. The shame comes from not having the courage to acknowledge it. I now realize that high school was a crazy time for all of us. Also, why did we all think we were so fat? Why? We were so thin!
If you can dig up your yearbook, I’d love to hear some of your favorite signatures from yours! Either leave it in the comment section or fb/tweet/instagram me @mrskansasmommy with the tag #mkmyearbook
To leave you with some humor and nostalgia, here are some of my favorite excerpts from my Junior Year High School yearbook:
“HELLO EMILY! Isn’t it nice to have homecoming in a gym instead of a barn? I’m so glad you moved here from Oklahoma!”
“Emily, Hey What’s up! It’s been really cool meeting you and we’ve had fun at the dance and running from the cops. Plus sitting around the campfire!”
(Okay…you run from the cops ONE TIME and it’s in your yearbook forever.)
“Emily – What can I say? OKLAHOMA! You’re awesome even though you come from Oklahoma. It’s ok, we’ve grown to luv ya. We had fun times at Gary’s!”
(Gary’s party is referenced several times in my yearbook. I’m wondering if this resulted in the “running from the cops” incident.)
“Emily, It was cool having you in the locker next to me. Sorry about Tim creeping you out. He’s just a big dope. You’ve been pretty cool to talk to despite all my friends you don’t like. This year was definitely fun having you to talk to, otherwise it all would have been Amber’s b*tching and Tim’s rambling.”
(I have no idea who any of these people are, but now I have so many questions about what happened that year with Tim and what Amber was so upset about all the time.)
(And the epic follow up from Tim…)
“Emily, A joke is a joke but sometimes I go too far. I had fun in health. I hope one day I have your commitment to religion.”
(Hahahahaha what did I say to him?!)
“Hey Emily, What up girl! You’re a lil hottie, you know so quit using it 2 your advantage. I’ll probably see you at some party or some sh*t. Talk 2 u over the summer. We’ll go chill.”
“What’s up Oklahoma! You talk weird but you are cool as hell.”
(Um, YOU talk weird. But thanks?)
(And the most heartbreaking because I have no idea who it’s from:)
“Emily, You’re a very special person. I can’t blame you for feeling the way you do, but I hope one day we’ll be good friends again. Love, Me.”