If you’re emotionally stable and secure in your worth as a human being, you’ve most likely left your high school labels behind you. I was a nerd (i.e. got good grades in advanced classes) and a band geek (i.e. was part of the most awesome extracurricular compilation of musical genius and stunning choreography – 1992 New York State Field Band Competition Champions! woot woot!) These labels were not synonymous. Plenty of smart kids were not in band, and there were many jocks, cheerleaders, and other assorted popular kids in marching band.
I hope that when I run into my old classmates, they see me for who I am now, and not just a nerdy band geek. I certainly don’t see those traits as negative….on the contrary, they are my earliest realized strengths, and I fully embrace them. But I am so much more than smart, musical, and physically coordinated. (Those marching band sets are no joke!)
I had an
infuriating insulting interesting experience several years ago. My husband graduated a year ahead of me from the public high school that I attended, though I ultimately did not graduate from there, but from home school. Due to my superior intellect (ha), I was in several classes with upperclassmen, and thus knew many of his classmates. The idiot man in this anecdote, however, I knew because of his lack of intellect. He had to repeat a class after failing it, and was the cute, but dull, boy in front of me in French 2, who had a habit of turning around to flirt with me instead of paying attention. I’m pretty sure he failed the class again.
At my husband’s ten-year reunion, we were both excited to see old friends and show off pictures of our four gorgeous kids. While making the rounds, we ran into Cute Dull Boy. In making conversation, he asked what I was doing these days. I told him, with a huge smile, that I was very busy raising our family. He looked at me, incredulously, and said, “Oh. I thought you used to be smart.”
I can hear all you mamas out there, with your collective gasps and ” Oh, NOOO” ‘s. I KNOW.
I immediately replied, somewhat lamely, “Yeah, and I still am!” Clearly, this man DID remember my high school label. And he expected me to still live up to it, although his criteria for that was sadly misinformed.
This incident was 9 years ago. I have four more children, and I’m still at home full-time, raising and educating them, not to mention running my household. Do I care that this imbecile implied that raising a family is a waste of my academic abilities? Nope. Of course not. My mind brought it up recently when it went on auto-blog after a cashier at the grocery store smiled at me.
This particular cashier had rung me out dozens of time before, always greeting me with a look of…..annoyance. Disgust? I don’t know, but she definitely wasn’t cheerful. However, last week, as I started putting my groceries on the conveyor belt, this girl was talking to her co-worker about a boy they had gone to high school with. The co-worker had seen him somewhere, and the cashier asked her friend, “Did he remember who I was?” When the co-worker answered in the affirmative, this sullen, grumpy, bored young woman broke out into a beautiful smile, and even turned it on me as I paid for my purchase.
Now, I, of course, do not know the back story. Perhaps he was a guy she had a crush on. Perhaps he was just uber cool, and being remembered by him was, like, special. But as I returned her generous smile, I thought, “It’s nice to be remembered.” Unless you had such a horrific high school experience that you are filled with hate at every mention of your alma mater, you would probably react the way that this girl did. It is nice to be remembered.
I am glad that Cute Dull Boy remembered me. I am glad that he remembered that I was (am) smart. It was, after all, my defining characteristic at the time, not having yet figured out all of my other awesome qualities. I would have been more irritated if he’d pretended not to know me, after all that flirting.
But please, for the love of all that is kind, and just, and rational…..don’t judge a nerd/jock/cheerleader/druggie/metal head by her high school persona. It’s nice to be remembered, but we are all so. much. more.