In the beginning high school wasn’t easy for me, as I’m sure it isn’t for a lot of people out there. I was in high school in the 90s. I graduated in 1999 to give perspective on the technology at the time. The television shows at the time, and just general sort of living.
I remember my very first day of high school I walked with my first ever friend. We make jokes about meeting each other in the womb, because our moms were friends when they were pregnant with us. I don’t remember the shirt I wore but I’m sure it was big and hid everything because I was self conscious of my baby fat. I was not fat in the least, just had some left over chub from before puberty. It was just typical self conscious feelings a teenager feels.
I wore shorts. They ended just above my knees. I remember sitting in math class, looking down at my pasty white legs and deciding that I would not be wearing shorts ever again. It was in this small but pivotal moment I started to believe that a boy couldn’t possibly like me. I pretty much held on to this style of thinking until after high school, and decided it would be OK to wear a dress. It was flowy and pink Hawaiian style, and I felt pretty in it. That, however, took a long time to get to.
I would say that was the beginning of feeling awkward in school, but that really dates all the way back to fourth grade when I had a best friend. Then I made another best friend, and I guess you couldn’t have two best friends. They became best friends, and i was suddenly sitting by myself at lunch time just waiting for the hour to pass by.
I didn’t have the same lunch time as anyone I knew my freshman year of high school, and so I spent a lot of time drifting around the campus. I fell out of friendship with my first ever friend for a brief time. I felt pretty alone, and it was hard for me to make friends. I never cared to be “popular” so that was never on my agenda. I had crushes, but I thought I was pretty shy. The truth is as I’ve gotten older I know I am not shy. I’m a true introvert, and I like quiet. I like to be at home more then out. i just hadn’t figured any of this out at the time.
How I managed to finish my freshman year I will never know, but I did. I read a lot in those times, and still do. Books got me through some tough teenage times. I read things like Sweet Valley High, Sweet Valley University, authors like Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, Lois Duncan, and Caroline B. Cooney. I also developed passion for movies, especially seeing them in the theater. I was in a youth group outside of school, and so I went to a lot of movies with friends from there. I wasn’t completely without friends.
I grew up with a pool in our back yard. I was basically a fish every summer, spending as much time in the pool as I possibly could. By high school I hated swimming. I hated the idea of putting on a bathing suit. I was also pretty flat chested so I didn’t even need to wear a bra. I wore bralets before they were a popular style. I stopped swimming, and realized the color of my hair was actually a really dark brown. It was no longer sun bleached by long hours hanging out by and in the pool. I also lost my golden tan.
My sophomore year of high school started out the same, but slowly I went down hill. In the middle of class I’d feel like the walls were closing in on me. I thought I would be sick, and my heart would begin to race. I got familiar with the feeling of being clammy. I felt like I couldn’t breath, and that maybe I was going to die or faint. Right there in front of everyone. I couldn’t concentrate on anything my teacher was saying.
I can’t remember the exact day I started feeling this way. I remember moments like sitting in English class, and my desk was on the other side of the room. My teacher asked a question and I raised my hand. Instead of answering the question I asked for a hall pass. It took everything in me just to do that, and I walked quickly to the bathroom that was connected to the library. I went there because it was rarely in use. I needed a moment to try collect myself before the world closed in on me.
Then one day I was doing my math homework while watching Saved By the Bell, and I didn’t feel good. My mom had brought home groceries, and surprised me with Muppet Treasure Island on VHS. Yes you read that right, it was on tape and it was newly released in a clamshell case. To this day that is one of my favorite comfort movies. I remember watching it, but feeling like my stomach was slowly tying itself into knots. I stayed home from school the next day, and the next day my mom drove me to school while I cried. I sat in the parking lot crying, and said I couldn’t go in. I just couldn’t. It wasn’t feeling of not wanting to. It was that I couldn’t. The panic in me had manifested so much that I let the fear control me.
The next day I couldn’t leave the house.