A few weeks ago, my Facebook feed was a-clutter with news that the high school I attended in Alabama was closing its doors for good. I have quite a few FB friends from high school so the majority of the posts were all about how sad everyone was, how grateful they were to have gone to school there, their love for the teachers, what great memories they had, etc. All I could think was “meh.” I did share an article about the school closing but I didn’t wax nostalgic about anything high school related. I’ll tell you why. I didn’t particularly care for that school.
There. I said it. Don’t get me wrong; I did have some good memories of my time at that high school. I had friends, I belonged to various clubs, it wasn’t a horrible experience, but it certainly wasn’t the best time of my life. I think the biggest reason was that I had a person in school who didn’t make my life easy. I won’t say s/he was a bully per se but s/he certainly didn’t go out of his/her way to be nice to me and s/he spent a lot of time trying to make me feel insecure about myself, not just physically, but also academically. I have an Asian mother so getting a B or even an A- was never good enough. I suffer from Impostor’s Syndrome as well so outwardly I project confidence, while inside, I’m shaking in my boots, thinking that I’m not good enough. I spent my entire high school years, trying not to let anything this person said or did rattle me but when it’s a constant barrage and no one else around thinks that this person was doing anything other than “lighthearted teasing,” it got to be a bit much. Even when I got accepted to USC, this person did everything to belittle that accomplishment. From telling me that s/he was surprised that I got accepted because my SAT scores were so low (which, I never knew how s/he knew about the scores but s/he did) to commenting about how I’d never fit in at USC because California was all about tan, skinny, beautiful people. Needless to say, when I left Alabama, I was happy to leave this person behind.
(As an aside, I am friends with this person on Facebook. This person friended me, not the other way around, and at first I wasn’t going to accept, but the nosy part of me wanted to see how s/he turned out.)
This was also the first time in my life where I was subjected to rampant and blatant racism. Not only in general, but also directed straight at me. I had just moved from 2 previous locations in which the student bodies were pretty mixed and all of a sudden, I’m living in a place where one race was clearly dominant and race relations were not the best. It was the first time I had ever been looked down on for being not just not white but being mixed race. I was lucky enough to have friends who didn’t care but there were a lot of people who did make comments about it (oddly enough, not my nemesis. S/he never crossed that line.).
While I can empathize with others that it’s sad that the school is closing, I myself am pretty apathetic about it. I can also recognize that a lot of my apathy comes from the fact that I didn’t grow up in that town. I was only there for 2 ½ years of school and I was counting down the days until I could leave for college. A lot of the folks who are sad about it all had much stronger ties to the town/school/people than I did.
I don’t want to bring anyone down about loving their high school experience. I’m glad that people enjoyed their time there. I’m not really sure what I’m trying to accomplish with this blog post. Maybe just to provide a contrasting point of view? Maybe to give a voice to all the folks who didn’t have the great experience everyone else seemed to have? I don’t know.