I stumbled upon my old high school achievement records while cleaning the house–it felt odd, strange, holding dusty certificates and letters. So I did get a 34 on the ACT; I thought I’d remembered wrong. And then the 2350 on the SAT–huh, at some point, I’d scored higher on Math than on Reading! Then the AP Scholar with Distinction–which one was that again? Then my essay to my dream school, which I attended, then my first college acceptance to business school, with a full ride I’d turned down. And then my Valedictorian speech, which I’d written the night before, after mustering up all the non-hatred in my body I could to write some relevant stand-up.
Blog, just for context, and to be as blunt as possible, I hated high school. So much. That much stress and resentment is not healthy. For any individual. Had high school been a work place, I’d have quit. Early. But, as a wee minor with few choices, I didn’t. And so I endured that place instead, harboring years and years and years of hatred. It stayed. It lingered. I feel less angry now. In its place is a mellowed realization that hatred must be acknowledged, that it has its place, and like a familiar blemish in a thin history book, should be written about. I neither forgive nor forget.
Nobody ever quite understood it. My resentment was shat on, diminished, looked down upon. How could you hate a place so rosy filled with the best human beings abound? See, that was where our opinions diverged. Despite my having a far opposite opinion, it was never…allowed. Or understood. Get over it. Move on. It wasn’t that bad. It isn’t that bad. How could you say that about a good place? And, if you could possibly believe it, it only exacerbated the hatred. To feel anger is one thing; to face other’s anger because of your own anger is yet another.
At the time, one of my greatest stressors were the relationships in my life. As a girl, well, you know the type: they’d sit in their criss-cross applesauce circles, talk relentless shit, bask in passive aggression and snark. These were my so-called best friends. It was then that I concluded it was better to be alone in life than surrounded by snark. I stopped talking. I kept to myself. I harbored this brewing hatred, letting it expand day by day, each sediment of resentment hardening into stone. It’d occasionally spill out, molten hot lava, fury and resentment. Then the confused looks, always, and maybe mirrored anger, because I should not have felt what I felt.
It wasn’t until my last year of college that I mentioned this fully to my best friend. The best friend who’d always been there for me, held me when I was sad, lifted with me when I was joyous, was there through it all, who was always supportive and understanding and compassionate. Not once had she pissed me off to the high heavens, and not once had she made me cry. Not once had she ever made me feel less than or misunderstood or wrong in how I felt. And–get this–she understood. In all those years, she was the only person who immediately understood. She didn’t diminish my feelings, or try to find some phony bright side. She understood. She mentioned uncannily similar catty high school stories. And it has been experiences like those, fleeting but still moving, that have…well, what have they done? So inexplicably much. Kept me sane.
I can imagine the Valedictorian speech I never wrote and all the things I’d meant to say. Honestly, it’d probably just be filled with a lot of expletives. Even now, really. But honesty is not always valued. And I suppose that is the part of me that is high on social monitoring, that will put on a face based on the crowd. That day of graduation, I stood on stage, I smiled, I cracked jokes. I buried my resentment just one foot deeper, because to experience anything but love for the institution was blasphemy.
Well, I didn’t love it, at least not the last few years, and I should have left while I could. I should have gone to the competitive public school several streets away, the one with high-achievers funneling into the same university. I should have expanded during those years, made better friends, worked just as hard, and felt less anger. I know that everything happens for a reason, that, perhaps, this stony fury made me a better person (somehow?). I have no idea. But I do, as they say, trust the universe.
In the end, it worked out. Academically, I wrung every possible mark I could. I loved my teachers, always did, and I’d learned a great deal from them. I reached all my goals. I ultimately attended my dream school, where I met the best friend I never thought existed. I came to terms with my initial, constant life passion–Psychology–which my best friend first texted me about today, asking for run-downs on theories.
And every post like this, however unsavory or un-poetic or un-artistic, chips away the resentment, bit by bit. Then I remind myself of the here and now. As my best friend so briefly quipped–