Posted on | June 19, 2012 | 9 Comments
When you get to a certain age… not old enough to be “old” and still young enough to remember being truly young, you start to reflect on all the different people you’ve been in your life and how they shaped and molded and tweaked you into the person you are today. It may come as a surprise to those of you who know me now, but in high school I was sort of … quiet.
Not quiet in the traditional sense of hanging in the back ground and not fitting in to any conversation, but quiet in the sense of always feeling like I was somehow missing 90% of whatever joke was floating around. I never felt comfortable speaking my mind or my thoughts because I always thought that whatever I was thinking was, well, probably wrong. So I did a lot of laughing, a lot of smiling and nodding, and a lot of going home and rehashing conversations in my head and wondering if I’d said the wrong thing or laughed the wrong way or just… was…. wrong. Case in point, I had a friend who I thought hung the moon. I worshiped the quicksand he walked on and would have moved heaven and earth just for a chance that he would think of me as something more than… well… me… but I never did anything about it. I never let him know. I was just… quiet.
I spent so much time worrying that everything about me was wrong… wrong hair, wrong smile, wrong clothes… that I forgot to just enjoy being me. I wasted so much time worrying that everyone hated me, that somehow they could all see how desperately uncool I was and any minute they’d all decide to never speak to me again. I look back on pictures from that time and I shake my head, wondering why I felt the need to wear oversized shirts and pants, wallowing in clothes too big for my frame. I’d kill to weigh what I weighed in high school, kill to look like what I looked like in high school… and sometimes, I’d kill to just be as carefree as I was in high school.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about those days because delving back into the world of dating makes me feel an awful lot like I felt as I wandered the halls of Page High in Greensboro… I feel different from everyone else… apart… separate. I don’t feel like I quite grasp the right thoughts at the moment I’m supposed to have them. In high school, I could mask it with an off color remark and a flippant hand gesture… at 34, it’s not so easy to mask.
I’m a fish out of water in this dating world. I’m flailing around, wondering if I’m wearing the right clothes, the right face, the right attitude for this or that guy. I’m scared to just be for fear that once again, it won’t be good enough. I’m letting myself forget that I am 34 years old, a successful attorney, a mom, a friend… and maybe even a writer. I don’t need to be ashamed of the lines on my face or the worry in my heart. I should be proud of who I am because if high school taught me anything it’s this… in fifteen years, I will look back on the woman I am today with envy and awe. In fifteen years, I will see pictures of myself and realize I was beautiful and smart and funny and I should have let people know the real me.
In fifteen years, I will wonder why I wasted the time I had or could have had, fifteen years before.
I was quiet in high school. I didn’t date. I didn’t even kiss a guy until I was 18 years old. And, honestly? I don’t regret a moment of my high school experience except that I didn’t let myself fully embrace the person that I was at that exact moment.
And I don’t want to be sitting, fifteen years from now, feeling the same way about the me that I am. The real me. The one I’m still maybe a bit too scared to show.