We are going to rewind for the moment.
For now, we are going to go back to the importance of school and learning the basic relevance of socialization.
What I am about to say is nothing new, nor is this something that I and countless other people have said before.
Same as it is important to learn how to read and write in school, we also learn the different values of socialization in the classes or in the hallways. It is important to note that our learning institutions are more than history and science.
Oh, but wait, I think science is a good word to use here. I think school and the science of our pathology is important to note, especially when it comes to learning how to live or interact.
We learn how to interact with others.
We learn about the intimate side of vulnerability with say, your first crush, for example.
We learn about dating and the mishaps of being betrayed or crushed which is why the term “crush” is used. Oftentimes, our first crush is one that crushes the heart. However, and to be clear, I am not sure that I ever had a crush per se. Or, maybe I did but the way I addressed the crushes or persons of interest was a challenge for me.
I am not sure that I was brave enough to dare to like someone so openly or freely – not am I sure that I would allow myself the simple vulnerability of holding someone’s hand in the hallway at school. I’m not sure if I could do this with total confidence or comfort. Then again, my history is not typical when it comes to school or schooling.
I never had the experience of going to a prom. I never had the high school interactions or the rite of passage that comes with a typical teenage background. No, my path was different.
I say this with the understanding of a person who experienced different traumas in my youth; in many cases, some of these traumas were self-inflicted and the other traumas were the cause of my self-inflicted or so-called “self-destructive” wounds.
But keep in mind and I will be saying this often; nobody ever chooses to be the one who is rejected.
No one chooses to be the so-called ugly one.
No one asks to be out of shape or misshaped and be seen as gross or grotesque, which is not to say that I was misshaped or ugly or gross – but ah, the way I saw myself was a challenge to say the least.
I can recall the discomforts of the mirror. I can recall the internal conversations and the internal narrative. Yes, I can recall liking a girl and I can also recall the insecurity of my true selections and the uncomfortable worries about, “What do I say” or “How do I tell someone I like them?”
I remember hearing about “liking” someone when I was a kid.
I remember the questions, “Do you “Like” them? Or do you just like them?”
I remember the feelings of fears and inadequacies and I remember that since I never dared or ever tried to express myself or learn how to date or at minimum, I learned that since my best efforts were only aimed at the physical selfishness of sex, social trophies, or physical intimacy; I never really knew how to date, interact or “like” someone in a virtuous sense.
This, too, is something we learn in school.
What else do we learn?
We learn about the rumor factories and the gossip mills.
Yes, this is true.
We learn about who likes who.
We learn about reputations and the fortunes or misfortunes of a bad reputation.
But in all fairness, our youthful experiences allow us to grow and improve.
So, there’s me.
I’m the uncomfortable one sitting in a classroom which used to be a barn that was turned into a schoolhouse.
This school was for those who needed a smaller, understanding learning environment. Yes, I was warned and told that this was a drug-free environment.
However, once this was told to me and no sooner did I see the other students in this so-called smaller or more intimate learning environment, I realized that almost every student walking through the door had bloodshot eyes, halfway closed and a smile that would represent that drug-free, smug-free, the principal was full of shit!
Everyone was high!
Me included. . .
I never had a high school sweetheart. Then again, was never too comfortable with dating. If I am being honest, due to my vast levels of personal insecurity, such as the way I look, my body, my height, my voice or the way I spoke; and then, of course, there was the size of my lower romantic parts (so-to-speak, wink, wink) and due to my discomforts when comparing myself to others, I was always too afraid to just “be me.”
I was too afraid to or try my luck with a girl and answer back, “yes, I like them, like them!”
Trust me when I say this is important.
And believe me when I tell you that the way we introduce ourselves to honest romance or the vulnerability of sharing our time, ourselves, and our bodies with someone is crucial to our emotional and intimate development.
I can say this because in hindsight, I was going through the moves to try and find my way. I was unprepared for certain instances. I was trying too hard and at the same time, I wasn’t trying at all because I was too goddamned scared.
I thought love was supposed to be a certain thing yet I had no real context of the fabric of love nor was I sure what love truly felt like – was this real? Was love just a word?
Was this as beautiful as people say?
Is it safe to trust someone and be yourself without any masks, diversions, distractions or, better yet, is it safe to be yourself with someone, without any worry that somehow, your name is going to end up in the gossip mills or the rumor factory the next day at school. Yes, this is uncomfortable to admit and no, the truth is no one likes to discuss these ideas. But this does not mean fears or worries do not exist.
In fairness, I just wanted to be liked or loved or wanted and included. However, due to my challenges and due to the results of my depression, which to me was a word without an explanation; and due to my high anxiety which, again, was another word without an explanation – I was simply a person who was sitting on the outside watching, spectating and witnessing the world go by right in front of me.
Nothing really made sense and, then again, nothing ever makes sense when it is new or unaddressed.
I offer this bit of awkward news because yes, see me over there?
I’m sitting in a little classroom which was less of a classroom and more of a space that was sectioned off in the upstairs of the small schoolhouse.
The acreage and the surrounding areas were peaceful. The school itself was a project which was intended to help “troubled” kids get out of trouble.
I had no idea what grade I was in. I had no clue what classes I was taking or if I was passing and whenever I asked, I was told, “We just try to help you graduate on time.”
To me, why ask anything else?
I will say that people minimize their experiences when it comes to interaction and socialization. I will say that people overlook the importance of the way we grow up, who we spend our time with and how.
I will also suggest that our early experiences and romance can act as a teacher for our future, romantic selves.
By the way, this is why boundary violations are important to address otherwise, they become normal or worse; they become acceptable.
This is where we gather the messages and keep the detailed notes in that place in our mind which stores the emotional binders and mental photographs of pain, pleasure, humiliation and exploration.
I never had a dating experience when I was young which, in turn, dating was difficult for me when I grew older.
I’m that kid over there.
I’m funny. I’m talented.
I have more dreams than the nighttime sky has stars.
That’s me, right there.
Wondering, thinking, worrying and hoping.
I had so many amazing qualities that I was unsure how to nourish or celebrate.
I look back sometimes and I shake my head. Sometimes, I smile.
Sometimes, I can recall the feelings or the unfortunate sentiments.
I can recall wishing for the bravery to talk to a girl and then once the bravery came – usually from either a liquid or synthetic courage, I never shared myself accurately or correctly. Often, I’d find out later that I said something outrageous or silly or stupid.
By the way, you know that phenomenon that occurs when you say something that you wished you hadn’t?
Ever say something and it sounds so stupid or ridiculous that you wished you hadn’t said it, but you did say it and now the last words you said – they sort of repeat and echo in your head?
All you can do is try to say something else to try and save yourself from sinking into sounding more stupid, but the next words only prove to make things worse – ever experience this?
Well, the fact is, most people have . . .
Fast forwarding again…
There was a young girl who was a daughter to a coworker of mine. She was somewhat plump or so she said. She wasn’t like her other friends and she wasn’t the one that everybody wanted to date. She also had a hard time with her reflection in the mirror.
She had a hard time talking to boys or getting boys to “like” her.
I remember she was telling me about her friends being beautiful and not necessarily feeling beautiful herself and, of course, I am paraphrasing this to keep it simple.
She was telling me about a girl who was a bitch to her and critical of the way she dressed and looked.
I asked, “Can I tell you what I learned, if that would be helpful?”
I explained I used to have friends like that too until one day, I realized they weren’t really friends at all. Plus, I hardly liked them to begin with
Then I learned something so poignantly true.
I realized (later in life) that no matter how beautiful or pretty someone is on the outside, if they are ugly on the inside, then they can only be average at best.
Trust me, sweetheart . . . nothing about you could ever be average!
Eventually, this girl moved on and she went to college.
The last time I saw her was an interesting visit.
She was a young woman. She had a boyfriend for a long time.
She was happy.
We talked briefly.
“You look beautiful,” I told her.
I know I’m beautiful, she answered with a confident smile.
“Oh yeah? How do you know?”
Because Uncle Benny told me I am!
The best feeling I’ll ever have in this world is showing someone how amazing they are.
The best feeling I’ll ever earn, which is something I have earned, is letting you know that how you are (exactly the way you are) to me, this is perfect.
I might not have learned a lot in school,
but I learned enough to know that some teachers are not good ones.
Some lessons are inaccurate.
Sometimes we have to unlearn our lessons to learn better
. . . then we can go forward.