Friday, October 18, 2013

Why I Don't Care About High School

I realized today that I just don’t care about high school anymore.

I don’t have the classic version of senioritis, characterized by general apathy toward classes, procrastination, and lackluster work quality. Instead, what I don’t care about is my school and my peers.

Today seniors had to leave fourth period early to take the panoramic photo. Since I’m in AP chem, where there are only three seniors, we didn’t know when to leave and so got there late. The picture hadn’t been taken yet, the photographer wasn’t even ready, but as the three of us walked out onto the field people shouted at us, telling us “hurry up!” “Just run!”

My friend started to semi-jog, even though she was in flip-flops. I wondered why I wasn’t running. Normally I have no problem proceeding with all deliberate haste; normally I hate being an inconvenience.

Instead I walked at my usual pace (which is relatively fast), hands in my pockets, and contemplated flipping off the shouters. Just to see what would happen.

Walking back from the photo, behind me a few people who are on my level intellectually (meaning, I respect them) and with whom I am friendly good-naturedly ragged on me for being late. Normally I would apologize, explain why I was late. I did explain, but when they persisted I rolled my eyes, smirked at them, and went to lunch.

These are people I respect and like. But I just don’t care what they think of me.

Why am I making such a big deal out of this? Because this incident - of me making a small mistake and not feeling guilty when called out on it - marks a drastic change. In 2012 I wrote about how I needed to break the smiling mirror - to stop trying so hard to please others.

Is it a good thing that I’ve stopped putting other people’s feelings first?

Yes.

Why? Because it’s not that I all of a sudden don’t care how my actions affect others. It’s that the number of people whose opinions matter to me has shrunk drastically from when I measured it last. And that is good, because a lot of the people I was trying to impress before don’t care about me, don’t talk to me, don’t know anything about me besides the fact that I do well in school. I’m not going to try to keep in contact with them after graduation. I don’t think I’d notice if I never saw them again.

How much I care about high school is proportional to the amount of time I have left.

I know for a lot of people it’s the opposite, at least in senior year. These are the people who get senior jerseys and shades, who yell “SEEEEENIORRSSSS” at rallies (which they actually enjoy), who buy class shirts.

If you’re one of these people, that doesn’t automatically mean I think you’re a fool. After all, I too expect underclassmen to get out of my way in the halls, I too snark about how sophomore means “wise idiot.”

But what is so special about being a senior? Yeah, we’ve made it through four years of high school, just about; we take gov and econ and have all the good teachers; still, so what? One of my favorite people (the Teal Knight, who happens to be a junior) produced a documentary on ovarian cancer when she was in eighth grade. You, boy who hollers so much at rallies, what accomplishment can you lay down next to that? What can I?

I haven’t incorporated being a senior into my identity. I feel infinitely more loyalty to the lower brass than I do to the class of 2014. Lower brass = 15 people, almost all of whom are awesome. Senior class: 400-odd people, many of whom I don’t even know.

And even the people I do know matter less to me. Last year, junior year, I felt as though I had three different distinct friend groups, and I was torn among my allegiances to them all. This year, I hardly see many of the people I considered “my tribe” just a semester ago, and I don’t care.

I’ve simply drifted apart from people who used to matter to me. The same thing happened during freshman year and I remember anguish, emotional turmoil, whining about it to my sister and my journal. I thought it was the end of the world; I thought I’d have to eat lunch in the library by myself.

The problem was that I was afraid of being alone because I didn’t have anyone I knew was on my side. I wanted a group: I wanted to sit at a table surrounded by friends, all of us terribly witty, having the time of our lives. Now most lunches I’m at clubs anyway, and when I don’t I am perfectly okay in the library by myself. I was afraid of being labeled a loner. Now I actually do not give a damn how it looks for me to sit there doing my chem homework while everyone else talks to their friends.

I have found good friends. I have one best friend, and a handful of others in whom I can confide all my troubles and worries, and to whose problems I am glad to lend a friendly ear (and pats on the shoulder). Who else matters, beyond that?

-

Bonus:

From Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Cat’s Cradle, we have the term grandfalloon: “a group of people who imagine they have a connection that does not really exist…[they]have no true spiritual destiny in common, so really share little more than a name.” (Wikipedia)

Futhermore:

"Ich Will" - Rammstein
Ich verstehe euch nicht

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