I recently came back from spending a long weekend of camp with 450 teenagers. I was feeling a lot of anxiousness the week leading up to the trip and on the bus ride there, it hit me why. High school sucks.
There. I said it. The end.
But seriously, I don’t know why we don’t talk about how much it sucks more often. I feel like people are always talking about the “glory days” and how high school was some of the greatest years of their lives and how they miss being carefree and surrounded by a sea of friends. For those of you who had this type of fairy-tale high school experience, well, congratulations, you also suck. Just kidding (kinda).
My high school memories aren’t filled with football games, pep rally’s and deep, long-lived friendships. They are dark, lonely and full of deep insecurities. To top it all off, I wasn’t very funny in high school, and if you know me now, being funny is, well, my thing. So as you can imagine, I was pretty miserable in high school.
As we rode on the bus, I watched the girls quickly pair up and sit next to their token buddy as a sea of hooligan boys staked claim to the back of the bus. There was a lot of screaming, rowdy chants and inappropriate dancing that happened on the bus ride and I kept repeating to myself, “It’s only one weekend. One weekend. It’s only one weekend.” You don’t see it at first, but in the crowd of deafening noise there was a cloud of fear among the group – fear of rejection, fear of being noticed, fear of being invisible. It made me realize, some things don’t change after high school. We grow up, live our lives and still struggle with the same fears we had when we were 13 years old. And the older we get, the more desperate we get on not just being accepted in, but being known.
A couple months ago I had a conversation with a barista at my favorite coffee shop in town. We chit-chatted a bit and at the end of our conversation, he looked me in the eye and simple said, “It’s good to know you, Sarah.” I’ve gone on and told several people that story because there is so much power even just in the word ‘know.’ We live in a world of nice-to-meet-you’s when our hearts crave to be someone that is good-to-know.
High school is a good reminder for me that wherever I am in my life, the best is yet to come if I allow it to be. It’s easy to underestimate the power of time. When we’re living in the moment or the past, it’s so difficult to look forward to what is yet to come, but like high school, nothing lasts forever. A song that I love speaks has a beautiful repeating truth that I hope encourages you today: It’s higher than the mountains that I face, it’s stronger than the power of the grave and it’s constant in the trials and the change, this one thing remains: Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me. What a great reminder that everything will eventually come to an end – yes, that includes high school, reputations, gossip, insecurities, immaturity and everything and anything in between. And when everything is stripped down, only one thing remains.
We all want to be known, to exist beyond our high school reputations. Face your today’s like a chapter out of high school – get in some dorky school photos, graduate and move on. You’ll find yourself looking back at these photos and laugh, think about how ridiculous your haircut looked and wonder if you still have that outfit in your closet. You’ll find that these moments aren’t filled with pain or misery, but they’re bittersweet as they stand as a reminder that people change, life evolves and we forget too soon the things we thought we would never forget. And before we realize it, today doesn’t suck anymore. After all, high school doesn’t last forever.