In A Cinderella Story, Hilary Duff falls in love with Chad Michael Murray and they bound off to Princeton for college, after making out in the rain at the year-end football game, the whole crowd cheering as the final touchdown is scored. In That ’70s Show, a group of seven hilarious teenagers trounce around making jokes, peering over shoulders in the classroom, making out at drive-ins and plotting their next beer-thieving strategy from their parents’ dinner party. In Glee, everyone’s hot and knows how to spontaneously break out in song or dance, and they’re cool because of their un-coolness.
What I’m trying to get at here is the fact that I, along with tons of other teens, was raised on this idea that high school is a magical teenage utopia full of raging house parties, shameless ditziness, liberating recklessness and, like, bubble gum. (I don’t know, I just see a valley girl snapping bubble-gum in my mind. Connections were made. Psychology, man.)
This idea was far from the reality. Upon entering high school, I learned quickly that it was cut out for one kind of person: smart, outgoing, athletic, beautiful and preferably unquestioning of authority/social norms. Those who didn’t fit this mould were the outliers. Plus, there was, like, no bubble gum.
Everyone looked like teenagers, instead of the hot 30-year-old actors that star in many high school movies. This was friggin’ real life, but add a bunch of extra wacky hormones and “make me a sandwich” jokes. Uh, where the hell is my letter jacket and flawless hair?
The hallways of secondary school were full of stories, fascinating social constructs and questionable smells. As a girl, walking into the classroom, you’d be expected to succeed, and walking onto the gym field, less likely.
In the hallways, people saw you and judged your appearance more harshly than your male counterparts. They heard stories about you and called you a slut, unlike the dude who sits next to you in math, who is hella practiced in the babes department, and is therefore a stud.
You overhear some kids talking about the party on Friday, and how that girl was probably lying about her rape. You cringe as you hear that age-old phrase echo in your mind: “Boys will be boys.”
You see two girls holding hands and watch as scrutinizing gazes follow them down the hallway.
You catch the tail end of a conversation about natives and how they’re lazy ‘cause they don’t have to pay for college. Ugh.
You go to the locker room and start changing for gym and a couple girls stare a little too long at your flubby tummy and exchange glances. Someone’s not missin’ any dinners, amirite?
You start lifting weights, freely showing off your unshaved armpits and ignoring stares. Does she own a razor?
You wonder what it would be like to be so blissfully oblivious. If you were less socially conscious, if racism, sexism and homophobia didn’t stick out to you like a sore thumb, would you have a more fun, carefree high school experience? If you hadn’t buried yourself in activist blogs and documentaries, would you be that girl with the perfect hair, constant grin and constantly buzzing phone? Probably. But then you’d probably be racist, sexist or homophobic. Or mean. And that just wouldn’t do.
It’s finally 3 p.m., and you hightail it for the bus line, finally getting to talk to your friends and put your headphones in. The bus pulls up. Your ship has come in.
Congrats, you just survived another day in high school. You worked hard, you made the least amount of eye contact necessary and did your best to not say your inner monologue out loud.
When graduation day finally came, I took a break from gleefully rejoicing in ecstasy to reflect on high school. There were bad times, there were alright times, there more alright times. I did a pretty stellar job of staying out of the drama, and I got decent grades. I made some friends, and did my best not to make enemies. (The suppression of the inner monologue was successful.) There are things I did well, and some things I wish I did better. I got through high school. And although it was pretty much a glorified popularity contest with notebooks and faulty air conditioning, I got through it, and it was a hella valuable experience. The thing about high school is it’s a lot like the world, in that we still got a helluva lot of work to do. But we’ll get there, if everyone just does what I say. Just kidding. But really.
Peace out, Creston.
I hope there’s Hubba Bubba in college.
LoRae Blackmore recently graduated from Prince Charles Secondary School. The Teen Take is a column co-ordinated by Creston’s Teen Action Committee.