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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My story, part IV

See previous posts on this topic here.

My high school journals consist of endless entries in which I describe the depths of my suffering because I was the only LDS student. We were actually the only LDS family with kids in the entire town. Throughout my life, I'd been taught there are appropriate standards of conduct involving things like appearance, language, and dating. Instead of viewing these as guidelines for myself, I felt they should be guidelines for everyone. Even people who didn't know they existed.

My first day at the new high school, I spent lunch crying in the bathroom. Even though I'd been raised in Freeport, going back I was still an outsider. And I had a head full of crazy expectations due to living in Utah for so long (I firmly believe every LDS person should spend significant time outside of Utah so they can re-calibrate what's normal in real life). My siblings were involved in other activities and seemed to fit in quickly. They were always with friends, playing sports or just generally happy. I spent a lot of time alone and miserable. Sometimes by choice, but often just due to the suffocating depression I fell into.

I eventually I developed some different circles of friends. It's only now, looking back at the ridiculously well-documented experiences I had, that I realize how charitable those people really were. Without my journal entries, I'd still be remembering high school as worse than it really was. At the time though, it was so difficult to think about moving forward. Looking back at the life I'd left behind was so much easier. 

I did try though. And it was infuriating when my parents would confront me and tell me to stop feeling sorry for myself. There were many conversations during which they told me to try harder to be happy and move on with my life. But how could they possibly understand what I was going through? They were just parents! They had normal lives! They didn't have to go to high school in a new town! Parents know nothing!

So even though I felt like a total loser, I tried out for cheerleading and made the team. The program was new and pretty crappy, but at least it gave me something to do almost every day after school for three years. And I wouldn't have to worry about making plans on weekends because I'd be cheering at games. I got into photography and logged countless hours in the darkroom. I actually had some really great conversations with classmates there too, in the safety of the red lights.

Despite my efforts, it felt like I was always one step behind the social scene. One of the seemingly-most-popular boys in school called me "Utah" for at least the first year. And for some reason that devastated me. I wish someone had told me he was just flirting. Other boys who asked me out I immediately rejected. I wrote in my journal that having my father emotionally destroy me made it hard to trust that I could have a real relationship. If my own father couldn't love me, how could some high school boy?

Turns out I'd try to figure that out in college.

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