It Gets Better, Or Does It?
Yesterday I was reading the news story regarding the high school sophomore who won her place in the homecoming court as a cruel prank that apparently—and wonderfully—backfired on the teens who tried to shame her. As I usually do, I scrolled down to the comments section and some of them caused my gears of reflection to wonder about the past.
Basically, someone mentioned that high school and its various tribulations and suffering it can induce on those who aren’t popular do not reflect what the real world is like which I largely agree with. Mind you, when I was in high school there was no such thing as Myspace or Facebook or all this around the clock “connectedness” that’s now so commonplace. If I wanted to stay in touch with a friend, it was via a good old fashioned phone call on a regular telephone, sending a set of encoded numbers on a beeper, America Online and, if your 28k-56k modem could support it, perhaps a very blurry and choppy encounter via Netmeeting. My time in high school was obviously much different than what it is now. I digress.
The comment got me to thinking of when I attended my high school reunion not too long ago. I initially had no intention of going since there was only one person who I was eager to reconnect with and the chances of her being there were slim to none. After being encouraged by a former co-worker and some family, I decided I would drag my longtime friend who I happened to meet in high school along with me even though she too had little enthusiasm for the whole thing.
As the date of the reunion approached, I actually got more and more excited about the whole thing. Who would I see? Would this classmate that I’d lost touch with for so many years be there? It’d be great to maybe run into so and so.
Ultimately, my over-enthusiasm set me up for disappointment.
The night of the reunion was to some degree like high school all over again. Everyone was in their own circles, barely taking a moment to glance over and greet those who were not in the “popular” group or the “athletic” group, these being just two of many examples. Only one guy I had originally met back in middle school approached us and started a conversation. Another guy who I wasn’t friends with but did have a class or two with greeted us and a girl who I hung out with a lot during my freshman year did at least wave and acknowledge me. So besides the conversations my friend and I were having as we walked around the bar and the one we had with that guy, that was it. It was just like high school.
Perhaps my expectations were too high or that’s just human nature and the way reunions work but that comment made in the news story got me to thinking, “If people still give you dismissive glances and don’t have the courtesy to at least say hello, how much change has actually happened from when such behavior was considered just being a normal high school kid?”
I’d say that for the most part, the real world is free of the silly politics and drama that are/were so prevalent in high school but in some cases it’s the same deal, just in a different setting.
On somewhat of a side note, I don’t dwell too much on my own reunion experience. The classmate I was hoping to see did not show up but thanks to the magic of Facebook I found her more than a decade later through a mutual friend and was able to catch up. The friend I attended the reunion with remains one of my closest friends to this day. Perhaps we’ll attend our fifteen or twenty year reunion just to chuckle at the fact that the more people change….