I graduated from South Kitsap High School 20 years ago this Summer.
Good God, Lemon...
Our reunion was Saturday. I did not attend because the Emerald City/ReedPop annual camp out was over the weekend. I don't regret my choice, but I did not simply blow off the idea of going to the reunion. I would have gone if the camp out was on a different weekend...and the MST3K Live Seattle performance was another night...the reunion would have been my third choice. I know that this makes it sound like I have a busy social life, but I can honestly say that this was just a freak circumstance.
There is an active Facebook page for our class full of conversation topics, photos, and people expressing their apologies for not being able to attend the festivities. Topics of conversation range from "How many kids do you have?" to "Occupation?" to "Where on the high school hierarchy did you place yourself?"
What a hell of a question. I thought about it, but didn't reply. Where was I in the cliques and groups? I honestly have no idea. I spent most of time in the theater and photography labs. I was (am) an artist, builder, creator, team player, and a "good kid". I was only kicked out of class for sneezing and got detention for being late to a class (cause of lateness: I started my period and had to take care of that - got detention because I didn't have a doctors note for being late. Yeaaaaa...) I did not actively seek out to become accepted into a labeled group. I just existed. I had fun. I had friends that did a little of everything. I liked high school.
I read some of the responses to the Facebook conversation. To my surprise, a large amount of the people that would have been labeled as popular" or part of a clique typed out "I was invisible." or "I felt alone" or "I never fit in anywhere"
"Holy shit" Mary exhaled in surprise. No. Really.
High school cliques have existed for decades. We were so used to seeing these groups glorified and vilified in most of the media we consumed growing up. No one talked about anxiety or depression or abuse. We all just assumed that we would fall into the appropriate groups OR we had to "work hard" to be accepted into certain groups ... and somehow being in these cliques (that held no financial or educational benefit) would result in fame, riches, and success in the eyes of society. Pretty lofty bullshit for a city of 7,000 (at the time).
As my fellow classmates of 1997 reflect on their time in high school, we find out that the majority of the group felt invisible...unimportant..alone...
If I knew then what I know now, I would have had the know-how to reach out to my classmates and befriend folks who needed it. There is no competition...we were all in this together.
I encourage you all to understand that these groups - jocks and geeks and theater nerd and band nerds and eggheads and so on - don't matter. How we treat each other matters. How we help each other matters. We can turn to our groups for specific interests, but being a theater geek should never have meant "anit-jock" and vice versa. These cliches were/are treated as binary polar opposites...like political parties. Let's break that cycle of bullshit. Having different skills doesn't make you any better than another group. Now that my "generation" are ...ugh...ADULTS, we have the power to squash the notion of "This clique is more valuable because of athletics - intelligence - popularity - social value and therefore important to force yourself into".
We're all in this together...we have been in this together since the beginning.