You Can Go Back – But It Won’t Be the Same
Two days ago I went to McNeil High School to drive the daughter of a friend so that she could pick out her locker and get her school ID card. I haven’t been in a high school in a long time. I didn’t even go back for any of my high school reunions. It just didn’t interest me. I figured that if I had been super motivated to keep in contact with those people, then I still would be. And besides, most of them are on Facebook.
High school was a positive experience for me. I actually enjoyed high school. I stayed active in choir and drama and performed in plays and musicals and built sets. I loved it, and I had a lot of fun.
But high school was also a time of uncertainty and insecurity. I washed my face twice a day with Noxzema or Phisoderm and poured the astringent on a cotton ball and smeared it all over my face. I spent over an hour getting ready every morning. I’d roll my hair in hot rollers, wait for it to set, brush it out and slather it with a layer of hair spray. As I recall, it was a period of high maintenance.
This time, as I went back, I was going as a kind of parental figure, the responsible adult if you will. Everyone assumed that I was the parent, and no one mistook me for a student. I got to observe. The kids all hated getting their pictures taken. They refused to smile. They tried to look away from the camera.
When I was in my twenties and working with youth I observed that a significant minority of youth workers are in it to relive their youth, only this time they would be the cool, self-assured older kid. These people were pretty easy to spot. They act as if they are a teenager and approach teenagers as if their job is simply to be their friends. Think Matthew McConaughey’s character, David, in Dazed and Confused.
I am the responsible adult now. I haven’t been a teenager in many, many years. And guess what? I don’t miss it. I don’t want to go back. I’m still self-conscious about getting my picture taken. That is just about the only thing that hasn’t changed about me.
When I was a teenager I couldn’t wait to be an adult. Now that I’m an adult I am looking forward to the rest of my life, and I think it’s only getting better.