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Monday, October 20, 2014

"Life is just a pale imitation of high school"

My Alma mater, West High School, Madison, WI
In the 1980's series, thirtysomething, one character utters the line, "Life is just a pale imitation of high school." Obviously, this quote has stuck with me for a long time, among the many random verses, song lyrics and trivia trapped in my brain.

Even the most enlightened adults continue to label people for one facet of their personality--"the geek," "the jock," or "the popular girl" now replaced with "the IT guy," "the former quarterback," or "the real housewife of (fill in the blank city)." We still make decisions about a person based on who their friends are, or essentially what "clique" the person is in. We still let petty differences create big rifts that can never be forgiven. And of course, there's interpersonal drama because someone didn't do what they said they were going to do and now there's a huge blow up because you didn't get voted class president, or homecoming queen, or most likely to succeed.

But it wasn't all bad in high school, right?

Here are thoughts on things from high school to apply to adult life:

  • Some people are unexpected friends. Senior night, I ended up hanging out on the bus back to the school with a bunch of people I didn't normally spend a lot of time with. My "close" friends were no where to be found. Singing "Celebration" on the bus with people who were mostly just acquaintances was the most fun I had all night. I'm still connected to some of them 26 years later, and wonder sometimes why I didn't spend more time with them in high school. Who are people now who are those unexpected friends? 
  • Some people are not really your friends. I know I have my share of friends who at best, didn't keep in touch or at worst, totally abandoned me. Friends ebb and flow. Some people are more interested in your position in the clique than you personally. Let them go.
  • No clique lasts forever. Cliques are based on a power balance. As cliques grow, they start to lose their influence over the members. Eventually, the power shifts and new cliques form. Sometimes you just need to wait it out.
  • It might be time to graduate. You can't stay in high school forever...maybe it's time to move on to a new adventure.
  • It will seem rosier when you look back on this than it feels like right now. The nostalgia card is powerful, isn't it? Someday, with the passage of time, this will not seem like a total disaster. You'll want to go back and celebrate it, for old time's sake.

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