Some high school acquaintances have started a Facebook group about their (I guess, our) high school experiences. It’s strange. When I think back to high school, I remember myself as someone who truly did not care what anyone thought of me. I had a few very strong friendships with friends from all around the Chicago area who I met at a teen dance club, even fewer close friends at school, and I had vague impressions of my classmates as people who existed in a totally different reality as mine, but not in a judging way. I wasn’t the sneering kind of punk rock kid. And for one who didn’t do drugs or drink, I spent most of my youth in such an ethereal, gauzy haze of confused yet convicted oblivion that I might as well have been stoned. In my yearbook, people I barely knew would tell me they admired me for “being myself.” I was always confused by that. Who else would I be?

I’m not even sure when I learned to be self-conscious. All I know is as I get older, I find myself feeling more and more pressured to be someone that I am not. I forget the lesson I was born knowing and have been taught to disbelieve. In my life, high school was a breeze. I didn’t feel any sense of pressure to be someone I wasn’t. That didn’t come until later. I put it off for a very long time. I’ve spent almost my entire life cultivating a lifestyle in which I feel completely at ease with myself in every situation I am in. Until very recently. I’m not even sure what knocked me off track. Is it the job? I love what I do for a living, but I’m currently responsible for a lot more than I ever thought I would be responsible for in terms of a career. To be honest, I never thought I would use the term “career” to describe how I make a living. Is it the kids? I never saw myself as a parent while I was growing up. Is it just me feeling anxious because I’m an anxious person? Perhaps. Whatever the reason, I find myself more and more having to consciously remind myself that I don’t have to give a fuck what people think of me. Steering myself back to center. Forcing myself to regain that sense of un-self-consciousness I once, unselfconsciously contained.

Reading posts from people I shared a parallel high school universe with is such a great blessing. It wasn’t necessarily a happier time…but it was a time of incredible clarity of simplicity for me. It’s good to be reminded of that.

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