Posted by AVM

This week, I received a friend request on Facebook from a woman I went to high school with whom I had not thought about in at least 15 years.  I remember her vividly, though – especially the fact that she had a particularly miserable high school experience.  She transferred to our school from Greece during a time in her life when no one wants to stand out and be different.  She was bright – at the top of our class in no time, but her cultural differences made her stand out.  Her parents didn’t allow her to shave her legs, and so she was forced to wear these nude opaque stockings – even in the heat – in an attempt to make her legs unnoticeable.  She was Greek Orthodox and wasn’t familiar with the common traditions attending our Catholic school.  These details are just two examples and the tip of the iceberg for her, and teenagers are cruel.  At this point, “different” wasn’t exotic.  It drew a line in the sand, unfortunately for all of us.

There are so many people I know who just hated that time in their lives.  Personally, I would start over on the first day of 9th grade all over again.  I had a wonderful high school experience filled with friends, first love, great teachers, creativity, learning and fun – sure, there were bumps in the road, but overall those were some of the best years of my life.   Those years shaped me and gave me confidence for what challenges presented themselves in college and beyond.

I am already – 11 years ahead of time – panicking that my daughter is going to hate high school,  have no friends, and be a social outcast.  How do we give her the tools to be strong, to be true to who she is, and to understand that it’s ok not to be the most popular girl in school?  How do we foster her self esteem to be intact enough so that she’ll navigate those years and come out unscathed on the other side?  We’ll figure it out as we go, I guess.  I certainly can’t map it all out right now, but I’m adding it to the list of things to worry about (along with the fear of her being – ahem -“too” popular).  I am slowly realizing that you just can’t control it all.

The good news is that the follow-up to my long lost classmate’s story is a great one.  After I accepted her request, I immediately visited her Facebook profile.  Upon graduation from high school, she attended Georgetown and then went on to Oxford where she earned a law degree.  She is now living in a gorgeous flat in Paris with her extremely handsome fiance and looking very chic in her Manolo Blahniks.  “Good for you,” I thought when I saw it .  I smiled at her success. Good living is the best revenge.

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