High School, for me, was an arbitrary hell that someone had dumped me in. This is not to say that middle school was better, or even elementary. It was all awful. The strange thing is there was no one obvious thing to make me unpopular, ignored, overlooked, scorned, or teased. Except my hair. I had wild, unruly hair. It was the bane of my existence and this was even in the 1980s when big hair was supposed to be popular. But there was more to it even than hair. By high school, I was a teenage misanthrope. If I had seen the movie Heathers then, I would have related to it.
Winona Ryder in the film Heathers
That character was completely estranged from her classmates and surroundings. And like her, I was filled with disgust and anger by the way people treated me and the general way they carried on. It was appalling that they actually liked high school. These were some of their best years when they could revel and gloat. When Columbine happened, I empathized a bit with the goth kids who took out their classmates. (I was not a goth though; my father had an obsession with us being normal). Except that I was not the violent type, choosing instead to be wallpaper. I avoided association with outcasts at the school, even though I probably would have liked them better than the popular people, because I didn’t want to take any more flack than I already had to. Also, some of the outcasts were just weird. They were not necessarily people I was going to relate to either. Looking back, I had an anxiety disorder, paralyzing social anxiety, which I didn’t quite recognize. I didn’t realize it was not normal to be that anxious all the time. I was distrustful, but even without that anxiety I’m sure I would not have fit in. With the anxiety, though, I walled myself off. Most of my peers didn’t engage me in conversation outside of classwork, possibly sensing my closure, but they were ultimately uninterested, being fully immersed in their cliques. And I was resolutely uninterested in them. Whereas in elementary school, middle school, I had wanted them to like me, by high school I understood we had nothing in common. I knew that if I could only get through high school, I would move onto better things, better people, that somehow I had been accidentally stuck with this group of jerks.
It was a good thing then that I didn’t realize depending on where you went in life that the world would be again like high school, in work situations at least, with cliques and people bullying you. That the overly self-confident jerks in high school would go on in many cases to be overly self-confident adults in the world who in many cases did better than more intelligent people, or more unique people, who had less self-confidence. If I had realized that then, I would have been even more depressed.
By this time I knew I was superior to them in some ways. When it came to English, or writing, I surpassed them all, but this was no real consolation: I was a complete failure in math and science, which they did standardly well in. It made sense that they would excel in that because they were stereotypic, and I was not. While I could act in various roles on stage then, in front of an auditorium, I was an outlier in high school. They were mathematic; For me, numbers and equations swam on a page. They were athletic; I hid in the outfield. They were going to parties on weekends; I skipped the homecomings, the prom. They were self confident; My only self-confidence was on stage. They were making glib conversation; I was home thinking of the various positives and negatives of suicide. Many people have been in the situation I was in, but I had no way of knowing that then. I knew my interests, such as writing and even ventriloquism were unusual, and I had a bad feeling that they were not going to get me far in life. This is not the case now, but I lacked any self-confidence then, from lack of affirmation by my peers and parents alike. The real world is tilted in favor of conventionality. Those who are really unconventional must forge their own path.