Do People Ever Leave High School?

Maybe I’m grumpy because I am stressed and tired but the short answer is no.

(Those of you pressed for time can move on now.)

Never.

Myself included.

I refer specifically to the reindeer games that people play when I talk about high school-like behaviour- though the comparison to high school is generous given what I see every day from people who are supposedly adults. I wonder if there is even the awareness that this behaviour is something we would not condone in our own children (or phantom children in my case).

To be fair, what it means to be an “adult” these days is a little fuzzy, or more accurately, people seem to be stuck in these extend states of suspended adolescence. What it means to be an adult now is certainly not how it was defined in the 1950’s but that is a topic for another musing.

This notion of never leaving high school stems from my belief that people don’t change. From what I have read, who we are is essentially set before we even get to school. That may sound cynical (and I wouldn’t argue with anyone who wanted to stick me with that label) but I truly believe  it takes something monumental to change who we are, at the core.

So I shouldn’t be surprised (and I’m not) but it is nonetheless annoying.

Interestingly, it takes very little to unleash the adolescent (and often the infant) in us. The insecurities, the questions, wanting to fit in (no matter how much we want to believe we are individuals) and me- torn between wanting to be noticed for my skills and accomplishments and wanting to be wallpaper.

Tangent Alert: I did not like high school. I never felt like I fit in and in many ways, I didn’t want to fit in. I wanted to get out. Things clicked when one of the guidance counsellors lent me the book Please Understand Me. It didn’t necessarily help me deal with people but it certainly helped me to understand who I was. For the record, I’m an INTJ. About 1.5% of the population is an INTJ which basically means I went through school without another person like me in class.

What I failed to consider is that almost everyone going into university would be coming directly from high school- so high school all over again only bigger- and more beer. I would say that was a slight (ah hem) oversight on my part.

And try as I might, I can’t escape people who externalize that infantile behaviour. Maybe it is just my perspective but people are very quick to align themselves with a tribe and pick on the weak.

But who am I to criticize? I cloak all my insecurities from those years with cynicism and a certain amount of “I couldn’t care less” bravado. I like to think I only hurt myself while others can’t help but unleash their crap on everyone around them. My tendency is still to keep my head down, step in if I need to, observe from afar, work with all the tribes but sidestep the policking.

I am determined not to participate in those reindeer games- almost as much as those who are determined to suck everyone into the drama. The danger is having people mistake my refusal to play as surrender- my own sister believes I struggled through life in her shadow. Yeah, right. Perspective is a funny thing, isn’t it?

One has to do what one must to survive but people should not mistake my unwillingness to beat other people down as  a weakness. The element of surprise is a powerful card to have up one’s sleeve….

Remember that all you mean girls (and I am not being gender specific with the use of “girls”) when you poke the sleeping bear.

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~ by angryegg on November 1, 2010.

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