Thursday, 17 November 2011

So Not The Time Of My Life: High School Reflections A Decade Later

At 1030pm I hear the fifth customised version of Green Day’s Time Of Your Life performed by the self appointed ‘charismatic males’ All I can think of is ‘I can’t wait to get the fuck out of here!’ That was ten years ago today, November 17, 2001. I was involuntarily at my High School Graduation/Formal. There I was in a suit I didn’t want to wear, with people I didn’t want to be with. Most were already nostalgic, some of the girls were already in tears inconceivably. The ‘charismatic males’ had no doubt reached the high point of their lives. I cannily predicted that one of them would turn out to be a PE teacher, just so he could kick the football and perv on girls with short skirts, while the other would remain unemployed because he was ‘living life to the fullest’. I would be correct on both predictions.

Whoever said ‘High School is the best years of your life’ obviously had no appreciation for me. High School will always remain one of the more darker periods of my life. I quite literally had no friends because I wasn’t interested in mixing with any of the people in my year level. Why should I? I was reading political theory during break times, while the two ‘popular groups’ sat under two rotundas behaving immaturely, in some form of sexual Darwinism execise, while the others would engage in other pointless activities. In an ideal world we’d forget about the indignity of the 45 minute morning tea break and work straight through so others could go home and I could do my homework by myself.

I was at school to work. I just wanted to do the best I could, and get out of there as quickly as I could, but even the academics didn’t quite get me. It was school policy that everyone was required to do Maths, so I had to endure that painful torture. I barely passed Level 1 Math due to my disability, consequently dragging my otherwise excellent marks in English, Modern History, Economics and Legal Studies down. As a consequence where I should have got a final score that reflected the effort and hard work I put in, my score was disappointingly mediocre. It shouldn’t bother me, but it always will. I remember being required to do a scrapbook for my last ever English assignment. In it I combined my early attempts at social democratic theory with my rapid evolving anti-theism (My word, meaning I believe in no religion not even atheism or being agnostic). As I expected, the early incarnation of Toddocracy received an A+

Inconceivably I was a school leader in year 11, mostly I suspect through staff intervention, rather than student popularity. In the final school assembly the principal of the school, a dictatorial bully whom I always despised, but loved me, singled me out twice as a model for other students at the school, which made my mother cry. That was nice, but such admiration only went so far. I was passed over for valedictorian probably because I chose to quote Marx in my proposed speech.

That last day neatly sums up my high school experience. I had no respect or kinship with my fellow students, nor they with me. I was respected by the staff of the school to a certain extent because I was part of an ‘inclusive education’ doing academic work, while the rest of the kids with ‘special needs’ were locked up in the ‘special needs room’ never interacting with other students. But obviously I wasn’t respected enough to change the conventional wisdom of the day. The school only seemed to want my opinion when it needed me for PR.

I ultimately left high school with a rush five days before my 18th birthday. No tears were shed, I hadn’t done anything particularly noteworthy, and I couldn’t care less if I ever saw my classmates again. Rather fittingly I was invited to my 10 year high school reunion this week with only 4 days notice for a RSVP, at a venue that is not accessible for my electric wheelchair. It is just as well because it gives me an extremely credible excuse not to go. I don’t want to hear Time Of Your Life again for as long as I live.    

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