Remember The Breakfast Club?
Thirty years later, and the question remains: which high school trope were you — the princess? The athlete? The brain? The basket case? Or the criminal?
Better question: which high school trope are you still?
Sometimes when I am writing my blog, I troll Facebook looking for inspiration. What I love about social media is it shows me that no matter how disparate the groups of friends I am looking at — peeps from childhood, high school, camp, college, post-college, early mommy group, parenting buds, or “other” — we have so much in common.
And not just the urge to take and share pictures of frosty cocktails, our feet at the beach, our kids/pets/significant other (not in that order — pets usually come first =), cooking/baking gone good/bad, and/or inspirational/funny quotes.
The human experience has a lot of overlap, especially the emotional components. The exteriors may look different, but the interior impulses are all the same. We’re just looking for connection to soothe the rough spots and know that we’re not alone in our suffering. (#Buddha, #tbt)
Also, no matter who we are and how we roll, there’s nothing to be ashamed of… because that guy or girl over there has your crazy shit beat by a mile.
That’s the lesson of The Breakfast Club, anyways.
And I think that’s the lesson we learn over time, too. Check out this from an old high school friend, whose status update on Facebook inspired this post:
“Okay I’m getting philosophical here… It’s funny how when we are young in middle school and high school… How we view ourselves and others… Who is “cool” and who is NOT… Who we want to be like or if we just like ourselves and think everyone should be like us… ( that wasn’t me ) and how we form our “CLICKS.”
And NOW… As an adult, with life half over, and a parent watching my kids grow up…Does it really matter??? Are the people that you thought would be something and have their life together really altogether? Are those people that you wouldn’t walk down the hall with or wouldn’t walk down the hall with you… successful now living happy lives? Or are their lives falling apart and not so together?
Is the mean girl princess alone and desperately searching for a husband? Is the shy geek president of a company? Is the fat girl now in perfect shape, happily married owning a chain of Barre studios? The motorhead Vice President of BMW? The kid you just didn’t like or include for no reason a Sergeant Colonel Major for the United States military? It is funny How much we all have in common and we don’t find out till the later years…and how we realize that we all have something to offer each other!!!
It would be nice if our kids could learn this early on in life and enjoy everyone…
So sorry for blurting out my thoughts but it is what it is!
I so get the urge to blurt — hell, I blog, therefore I blurt — and what’s so great about a big ass thought dump on social media like this is that it hits a nerve. When I read that, I scrolled through to see what others had said (27 comments, 67 likes), I was especially intrigued to see what old high school peeps had to say.
There were a lot of agreement, some interesting true confessions, and an overarching feeling that we hope our kids can do better than us.
I’m not so sure I agree with that GenX special of wanting to make life perfect for our kids — I’d argue that the pain of middle school and high school is the secret sauce in what makes us who were are as grown people.
I had one major BBF in elementary school who dumped my ass in 7th grade when she emerged from her awkward child shell to be come a stunning, popular butterfly. Left in the dust with my bookishness, bad Dorothy Hamill bob, steely braces/nasty food trappers, and faint Billy Dee Williams mustache, it would be most of the next three years before I worked up the courage to make a friend at school. (Thank goodness for camp!)
High school was a lot better for me, mainly because I’d learned how to be an outlier and was very comfortable in my Neo Maxi Zoom Dweebie skin, so rejection didn’t scare me. Not any more. Also, I grew my hair out, waxed my mustache, grew boobs, and generally stopped looking like Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid.
The girl (now woman) who wrote the post on Facebook was my neighbor growing up. I think she’s badass and awesome now, and I liked her back then… but truthfully, although there were only a handful of houses between us all those formative years, we never hung out. She had her friends, and I had mine. The whole clique thing didn’t stop in the classroom; it followed us all the way home like a bossy crossing guard making sure we stayed in our own lanes.
NOTE: Cliques are not to be confused with clicks — when you hang with people you genuinely like and know, that’s a click. When it’s a group of people you don’t necessarily know well or like much BUT you are in a shared social echelon, that’s a clique.
I remember several of the people who commented on her post, too. Back in high school, I’m not so sure they’d be sharing such emotion and candor on one and other’s pages… if we had pages to comment on. The social pecking order would never allow it.
When I realize how sharp that recollection is freakin’ 30 years later, I have to wince first… and then smile. Life sure is high school, and although we graduate from one thing and move on, there’s always another ready to take its place.
That’s been my experience trying to find my footing as a parent at every stage of the game. And I know it doesn’t stop here; I’ve seen cliques and social posturing happening all the way to my aunt’s assisted living home.
Navigating the waters happens all the time — take for instance when I recently took my daughter to register for her high school classes.
On the way there, I could feel her anxiety roll off her in waves.
Or maybe it was my own.
As we pulled up, I asked if she was nervous.
“Nope — just excited to see what everyone looks like.”
I knew what she was talking about. I had very consciously picked out a “hip mom” outfit with a little designer flair, just to be sure I looked good enough so as not to embarrass my kid.
Or myself for that matter.
Ready to judge a bunch of books by their covers, my daughter and I headed to the high school auditorium. I fought the urge to take her hand, pull her into a hug, and tell her that it would all be okay. Because her journey isn’t mine, and there are no guarantees.
Except maybe at some point she’ll have a moment where she’s the princess. The athlete. The brain. The basket case. And even the criminal.
After all, there’s a little of each of those tropes in all of us.
So if you hear me humming a little tune called Don’t You (Forget About Me), just know that I remember it all… and maybe a little bit too well. But then again, with the benefit of age and the help of Facebook, it is clear that underneath it all, we are more the same than different… and we all really do have something to offer each other after all.
Now, enjoy the soundtrack of your high school life by Simple Minds: