Do We Ever Really Grow Up?

Last night, as I was doing my usual blogging procrastination, I found myself falling into the Facebook vortex. (This was just before I rewatched all my favorite moments from Tuesday’s Glee. For the fourth time. Kurt and Blaine? “Blackbird”? Even that original song? So good.) You know the black hole I’m talking about—the one that starts with an innocent click of a friend’s link and ends at the wedding photos of someone you hadn’t thought about since third grade.

During the Facebook stalking session in question, I found myself deep into the photo albums of girls with whom I went to high school. Not girls I was friends with in high school, mind you. No, I was clicking through photos of ladies who were a few grades above me and always intimidated me with their seemingly easy self-confidence. They were the “popular” girls in their class and, probably because they were a little bit older and age matters in high school, simultaneously terrified and fascinated me.

What’s amazing to me is that all these years later those same feelings of insecurity and intrigue started bubbling up. Keep in mind I haven’t seen most of these girls in, oh, maybe ten years? And my life has turned out pretty well. I’m happily married, I’ve got a career I’m excited about and live in a city I love. But one glance at the flat-ironed hair that was the accessory in high school and I might as well be back to the awkward freshman who hadn’t yet deciphered frizz control.

What is it about high school? I was a perfectly healthy, not-awkward teenager. Sure, I may have had some insecurities (show me a teenager that doesn’t) but I had great friends, was well-liked, and succeeded in academics and sports. I was even the co-president of the gospel choir! (True story. Laugh all you want.) I say this not to toot my 16-year-old horn but to say that no matter how happy-go-lucky and not-screwed-up someone is, high school relationships still get inside her head. And some ten years later those feelings are still there, lying dormant deep in the subconscious until Facebook comes along and stirs the beast.

(As I write this, I’m reminded of that Kristen Bell-Jamie Lee Curtis movie, You Again. I never saw it, but maybe I should.)

So, am I crazy, or have you been there too? Do thoughts of “those girls” in high school ever make you feel like an awkward teenager again? Or are those teenage emotions something you’ve long put behind you?


Filed under The Search

12 responses to “Do We Ever Really Grow Up?

  1. LizC

    Totally get that. My 10 year reunion is coming up this year and I’m waffling on if I really want to go. I keep in touch with the people I want to keep in touch with and thanks to Facebook I’ve never really gotten rid of the rest. Even if I’m not friends with them on Facebook people I’m friends with are so I still get gossip from them.

    For me I feel like the reunion will just be one more time for me to feel insecure and self-conscious. I had friends in high school. I wasn’t popular but I wasn’t unpopular. And still I feel like I haven’t done enough. I’m not married like pretty much everyone else, I don’t have kids, I don’t have a fancy job, I only moved about an hour away, I haven’t even really been anywhere. I don’t want to have to go to that reunion and feel like I have to pretend I’m something I’m not to get the cool kids to like me.

    Sometimes I think Facebook just makes it harder to get over the teenage emotions. I can’t even really forget most of the people I went to school with so they never get a chance to break out of the high school box.

  2. Marie

    I’m so glad to hear that I’m not the only one that goes down the high school insecurity path on Facebook! I even feel like an awkward teenager again looking at what my old high school friends are up to on FB. Like you I am a confident and secure adult. So why do I feel that way?

  3. Not crazy at all, I’m the same way! In fact, I’ve been trying to get myself on Facebook detox after taking a week off when I went on vacation and finding myself much more relaxed in general… the time I wasted on Facebook not only gave me anxiety just because I was wasting time, but it also takes me back to those insecure days.

    However, I will say this: I know that I put my best self forward on Facebook and am very careful not to “sadbook” on bad days, so with that in mind, I know that everyone else (unless they’re blatantly seeking attention by vaguebooking about bad things) does the same, which helps me feel better. 🙂

  4. Joanna

    Facebook strikes again. It can make you feel so lonely and sad about your life. I mean, who ever posts that they had a boring day filled with chores and that their kid was screaming their head off? No, they post the gorgeous photo of their vacation in Mexico, or their beautiful professional portraits of their kids in coordinated, but not matching, outfits. It’s enough to make you turn green with envy (Happy St. Patrick’s Day!). And it’s worse the less you know someone in real life, because you can’t fill in the holes like you can with close friends, like the fact that cute baby Johnny had colic and she didn’t sleep for 5 months.

  5. M

    Facebook is so bittersweet. When I signed up 4 years ago, I swore that I would NOT friend anyone that wasn’t an actual friend at one point or another. I purposly didn’t use my maiden name and if someone I barely knew in high school tried to friend me, I ignored it. I was trying to avoid these same feelings that you are describing. I know several people that got caught up in high school drama with people they haven’t seen since they left high school. It’s all those same insecurities and madness. I know that some have brought all of that into thier adult lives but I haven’t and I want no part of it. I’m not even close to the awkward girl I was back then. Heck, I don’t even go to reunions. I truly believe that reunions are for the jocks and the cheerleaders to relive thier glory days and for them to try to make the rest of us feel bad. No thank you. I didn’t like those inadequate feelings back them and I’m certainly not going to let some washed up prom queen make me feel bad again.
    Sorry to sound so bitter. Apparently this post brought back some bad feelings. LOL!

  6. katieleigh

    I once read that most of us never get beyond our teenage selves at the gut level. That is, it doesn’t take much for us to feel insecure or hurt or abandoned – or giddy or excited – despite what our pulled-together adult selves think we “should” do.

    I tend to avoid folks from high school on Facebook, except the few I still care about/keep in touch with. The insecurity path is never a fun one, so I try to skip it altogether.

  7. Lorrie Paige

    I have those teenage emotions, but it has nothing to do with my past high school life, which was the antithesis of yours Rachel, and something I rarely think about.

    However, as I said, I do have the teenage emotions and a bit of the personality as it relates to a positive in creativity, imagination, enthusiasm and spirit. I’m often told I act A LOT younger than I really am (and I dress more like a teen too ( like wearing lots of costume bracelets, very 20-something clothing, but it looks OK on me because I really don’t look my age–still getting carded frequently at 49).

    BTW, I stopped doing Facebook about a year ago (Boring, IMO). I did find one guy who I went to school with (the class clown); he was a nice guy, but I have no intention of contacting him. I just would rather move forward.

  8. diana mack

    i work in the same town i grew up in…it’s not the girls that get me all insecure agin it’s the guys!!!!
    and when your huge high school love comes in then you really hit rock bottom
    that’s why i skip reunions

  9. Devongirl

    Very timely as (for the first time ever) I actually blocked one or two people from highschool on fb at the weekend to stop myself from looking at their profiles/pictures. We have mutual acquaintances so every so often they come up as ‘people you may know’. In the past I’ve been tempted to take a look at their pictures and ended up feeling bad. It may sound drastic to block somebody, but I don’t want to have the option of indulging in stalkbooking behavior that ultimately makes me feel bad.

  10. I feel the absolute opposite of everyone else, apparently. And even, I know, the opposite of people with whom I went to HS. I was in the middle in HS, not the popular girl, but not the least popular, and so I was friends with more people and really learned a lot about myself during those years. (Of course, going to 3 different HS in 2 years didn’t hurt those discoveries.)

    I don’t find myself feeling insecure, I find myself feeling more confident than I ever was in HS – even at the 10 year reunion, I wasn’t the coolest girl, and I didn’t have all of the close-knit friends that were still around and having kids together, but I was happy where I was, and I think that showed. I think it shows on Facebook, too – those that are actually happy where they are, exude that confidence, and it doesn’t matter what “accomplishments” their peers make – they’re happy with who they are and it shows. And, honestly, I feel like Facebook helps show the photos where those “cool” girls don’t quite look as amazing as they did in HS (or college) or the fact that, while they may be married, their husband doesn’t seem that awesome, or their kids look a little bizarre. I think it’s a great equalizer – sure, everyone posts the most “interesting” parts of their lives, but there’s still those small mundane details that end up on Facebook that make everyone seem the same…

    Unless of course, they’re a complainer… and then all bets are off!

  11. Layla

    I graduated high school in 2007, so it hasn’t been too too long. I recently went on facebook and saw pictures of a high school classmate who is now doing a semester abroad – somewhere pretty in Europe, I can’t remember – and she looked happy and grown-up and energetic and surrounded by other pretty people.

    Then I reminded myself that pictures of other people always do that to me. I always feel like I’m missing out on whatever they’re doing – even though I know I can’t do everything.

  12. Kate

    I’m going to a bridal shower for an old high school friend this weekend. I’m not gonna lie, that old script is running through my head – wish I was thinner, more successful, had better clothes, yada yada. In my every day life, I could not care less about that stuff. But something about high school dynamics makes us all second guess ourselves.

    Then, when I find myself feeling intimidated by/envious of someone else’s life, I try to remind myself that things aren’t always what they seem. I recently discovered that someone who I thought had it all is actually quite miserable. You just never know, I’m tellin’ ya.

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