I don’t know about your country, but here in the Philippines, high school is generally considered the happiest time of student life. We’re too young in grade school to do something really stupid, but too serious in college to risk flunking because our future careers depended on it. That makes high school the ideal sweet spot of our youth. Four years in it is more than enough to create memories of cutting classes, hooking up with the hotties, pissing off teachers and getting into a lot of trouble. Come to think of it, when we look back at high school, it wouldn’t be the lectures we would recall, but the crazy times that landed us detention.
Or at least that is how high school was supposed to be. Which is why for the longest time, I hated high school because I didn’t get to enjoy it.
I’ve always thought that it was because I was categorized under the label “ugly” back then. Modesty aside, I was an intelligent kid, but intelligence doesn’t translate to popularity. While I do get along with the boys because of common interests, I was never a solid part of anyone’s circle. Eventually, I came to view myself as an outcast who gets talked to only when my classmates needed a piece of paper for the quiz, or if they needed to copy during exams.
After graduation, I didn’t bother trying to reconnect. I ignored Facebook friend requests and reunion invitations. One time, my classmates actually went knocking at our house to get me to join their Friday night, but I pretended to be really sleepy and had my mom face them instead. (Can you feel the bitterness?)
Two weeks ago, I received another invite for a round of drinks. This time, I thought, well, what’s the worst thing that can happen if I say yes?
I won’t bore you with the details, but the short story is that I had a really fun night. I downed apple-flavored Smirnoff and beer, and listen to my classmates exchange banters and wild stories. I realized that being an outcast was all in my head; the reality was either I didn’t make any effort to socialize or I was too much of a late bloomer and just wasn’t able to catch up to their level of maturity back then. Either way, it doesn’t make them the bad guys.
Thanks to the influence of alcohol, I admitted these to them — that I didn’t really put much effort into reaching out when we were in school and that I was kinda sorry for being that way. They were forgiving and said it’s okay, that’s all going to change now, right? And I said yes, whenever my schedule allows it, I’ll definitely show up, and they actually cheered.
I’ll join them again for some evening jog, and then maybe dinner or movie on July 4th. It feels great to be given another shot at friendship. This means I no longer have to feel bitter about high school anymore. :)