This is the way I remember it —
Once teenage life began, we all split up in different groups. This is where our journeys began to change and the paths we chose sent us off in different directions. And it all revolved around the crowds we chose and our social interaction.
As I recall, when teenage life began, our social surroundings became bigger and the early childhood friends and me found us in different categories and divisions of popularity. But this is what happens when you’re a kid.
This is what happens when we learn about the social draws of status while trying to find our own versions of “Cool” if there is such a thing. And the lunchrooms seats we chose on a daily basis, the spots in the hallways near the lockers, the corridor outside the gym where the athletes gathered before and after practice, or the places where we stood in the morning and the people we interacted with; this was us. I remember it like this. I remember the places where we gathered before the morning bell rang. I remember where we went after school and walking home.
I used to see the different pods of kids, gathering together in their perspective cliques, and I viewed them like different countries with different flags and different agendas. There were the jocks and then there were the burnouts. There were the nerdier crowds, and then there was the younger and the older crowds. There were the metal heads into heavy, loud, and fast abrasive music —and there were divisions in this crowd as well. There was a glam side of heavy metal and then there was a more deliberate and faster side, which was me.
There were other divisions in the crowds, based upon dress, based upon looks and body types. There was the pretty crowd and then there were the less desirable. There was separation amongst the students; which again, separated us like different countries foreign to one another. And there were boundaries that needed to be honored; else, this would be similar to defecting from one’s homeland and be followed up with a public inquisition. Make no mistake about it —this is where we began to learn our lesson in politics.
Upon entry at the beginning of the day, we all funneled through the double-doored entrance to the school. We made our way into homeroom to verify our attendance. We wove through the corridors while trying to avoid the social entanglements that might damage our name and popularity.
But throughout the day and after the mandatory classroom hours that made us interact; after the periods of education and the forced interaction that made us speak with one another came to an end, the social separation began—and off we went. We went back to the sections where we’d hide in plain sight and try not to become a social tragedy or lose our place in the circle.
And sure, we had bullies. And everyone knew when something happened in or out of school because the rumor mills and the gossip factories churned out stories on a regular basis.
There were fights. There were kids to be scared of and kids that were picked on. There were times when to speak and times to sit quietly; otherwise, this meant facing the persecution of the rumor mills and gossip factories—and these were the words in the hallways spread faster than the speed of an unseen bullet.
I recall thinking to myself how I couldn’t wat to get away from this whole scene. I remember thinking that I could get out of here and get away. I thought this was limited to me and the problems I faced with social interaction only happened in my small section of the world—
But I was wrong.
No, this was just the training ground.
School is our first introduction to politics. More than the lessons we learn about math and science; we learn about the truth in the lies of politics. We learn about the mass majorities and the fears of living as a minority. We learn about the upper echelons of government, which come with their own, “Trickle down,” theory of power.
We learn about fears of persecution. We learn about the strength in unity and how it feels better to be united (even for the wrong reasons) than it would to stand alone and become socially alone or vacant. We learn about strategy and tactics.
There are classroom educations that come with school, which are never mentioned in the curriculum. This is where we learn how to get along and who to get alone with. This is our introduction to the idea of, “It’s not what you know —it’s who you know,” because everything is linked to your choice of friendships.
I have spoken with students in different schools from different backgrounds, both economic and ethnic, —and in all cases, I notice most agree with my observation, which has remained unchanged and dates back much further than my generation.
This is our children’s path. This is their training ground too. And to think at some point, I once believed that all of this would end once I left school to become an “Adult.”
On the contrary; adults are the biggest babies I have ever met.
The same things happen in the workplace. The rumor factories and gossip mills still exist. Our needs are met differently now, however, we still react according to the lessons we learned from back when we were kids and tried making it through the day.
Here I am now, grown, and I’m an adult. But the mornings are still rough and come with an angsty feeling of what might come. There are bullies at my job and people that are eager to churn the rumor gears. I have bosses, which are like some of my old teachers that were mean to the core and eager to point out each and every flaw. I have to interact with social leeches that look to better themselves by polishing apples for the powers above —almost like a teacher’s pet.
I’m wondering though. I wonder what my younger years would have been like if I were given a different angle of understanding and realization. I’m wondering if someone were to show me that the enormous issues in my mind were truly minuscule and that there was a better way of social interaction that wouldn’t be so intimidating to me; I wonder if I could have learned better, essential tools on how to co-exist —or better yet, I wonder if I could have learned how to exist without allowing myself to be drained by the mass confusions of young life.
Maybe if this happened for me, perhaps I would have had an easier time in classrooms. Maybe I would have had an easier time asking for help, or maybe I would have understood more about the deceptions of my perceptions. Who knows, but maybe if I had someone to help me to understand more about my internal working and thought process —maybe I would have went to class instead of ditched, in fear or feeling stupid or persecuted or feel the heavy pressures to perform up to par.
Through my own research, I find this observation is accurate amongst many. I find that as I speak about this with others, both young and older, I watched them nod understandingly and all with a similar facial expression.
I was locked in a poor mindset for a long time. And where did I learn this?
I learned about this is school. I learned this mindset in the hallways and near the lockers. I learned this when I was a kid . . .
This is why I want to speak more in schools.
I want to see if I can help end this process and educate students on a better path of wellness.
This just might save a life someday.
God, I hope so