It's a very dark and dismal Sunday afternoon and I am reading young adult literature while my son watches Care Bears with a plastic bowl perched on his head (Mama, look! Hat!). I've had to pause and wonder why young adult literature is so interesting to me right now. I'm currently reading John Green's Looking for Alaska and earlier finished his most recent book Paper Towns and I'm not sure if I'm reading them just for the nostalgia or if there's something more to it. They're good books. At least, Paper Towns was definitely good in my opinion and Looking for Alaska is shaping up to be a good read (I'm on page 40). I guess what I'm wondering is why those 4 years of high school have left such an indelible mark on the US psyche. So many books, movies, and TV series all center around that time period and, for crying out loud, it's FOUR YEARS.
I look back on my high school days with a mix of regret, embarrassment, and yes, nostalgia. But I don't think they were truly the formative years of my life. I don't think I really started being a person until I left high school and went out on my own. I was one of those sponge kids in high school - I found kids who were funnier, smarter, and more talented than I was and tried to absorb as much of them as I could. It's shameful to admit, but there it is. It wasn't until I left that environment that I started to figure out that I could be funny and smart and that I had some of my very own Sarah-ish talents. I think that I started to figure that out my senior year in high school, actually, but it was the knowledge that I would soon be leaving it all behind that made me start taking seriously the task of finding out just who this Sarah Avery person is. And being a sponge is depressing and annoying for both the sponge and the, er, sponged from. To be honest, I'm finding it harder and harder to remember those measley four years with clarity.
Is it all just hormones? Is that what makes nearly all teenagers believe that those four years are like, omg, the most important years EVER?!?! I would be lying if I said that time in my life didn't shape me at all. I'm sure that being a sponge and realizing that I was a sponge had a lot to do with me deciding that I wanted more and I wanted the "more" to happen to me and not some conglomerate of all of my friends stuffed into a Sarah-shaped shell. Yes, I wanted to be more than social ravioli. Hopefully I am.
I think that the American obsession with high school is dangerous. Kids have all kinds of media telling them that this four year period is going to be the most important time in their lives and it's discouraging them from looking ahead. I think of all the kids that commit suicide while they're in high school because they feel like they are in something endless and it's so absurd. It's four years and those idiots making you miserable are going to be nothing but dim shapes in your memory in time. As some smart person once said, "the only way out is through."
[I don't remember when I wrote this but I saved it as a draft and never posted it. Dunno why.]