As the spring approaches, I am facing, gulp, my 20th year of being out of high school. Blame my nostalgic nature, but I have been reaching out to people from my old high school class recently and those related to them.
Frankly it is amusing that some still think they are kings of the universe because they were popular in high school 20 years ago and others still think of whatever ever slight was given to them 20 or more years ago growing up.
Maybe it is because I spent the past 20 years getting some pretty interesting life experiences traveling around the state, but I just don’t get the folks who think they are still “cool” and the people who are still “pissed” because of something that happened back in high school days.
Maybe it is victim culture that we live in today. Everyone has to be a victim of something. I just don’t get it. Back in the old school days, I was probably less than average when it came to who liked me or not. But, college redefined me, then law school, then the years on the road with work and politics. I have lived hard and fast over the past twenty years, and I thank God for it. For, when I come across an old Belton Honea Path classmate on Facebook or in person, I want to shake their hand and find out how life is treating them. Childhood grievances or childhood senses of superiority do not cross my mind. Frankly, I have lived and seen too much as a man to ever consider such things. I am just curious to see how folks turned out and what they do today.
One old high school classmate asked me recently why I would ever move back to Honea Path. Well, there is a simple reason. I spent over a decade traveling this state and saw each and every town in it up close and personal in living rooms. After all that traveling, I realized that the little town of Honea Path was one of the best places in South Carolina to live. I was always proud to be from Honea Path, and I am proud now to live here again.
A relative of a classmate recently told me that his relative had nothing but pain to remember from the time growing up here. I tried to not to be too dismissive, but I was shaking my head when I heard such. It is sort of a clichéd, Dr. Phil type thought to find some sort of problem in the small town you grew up in to blame your current life on. Dr. Phil and his like give people a pass on their own behavior. Those people just blame it on being mistreated when they were a child by the cool kid.
Most of us had setbacks as children. The thing to realize is those who might have picked on us or made us feel bad were just children themselves. Those who still have that feeling of superiority from their double wide after twenty years deserve pity, not loathing. For certain, all the people in a little town need not be brought into to some sort of childhood loathing about who treated one right or who is cool.
I say listen to the Eagles and get over it. But, of course, I saw the state and the world before I chose that my hometown was the best place to be. There is a sense of self confidence that comes from accomplishments. There is a sense of compassion and wisdom that comes from experience. The cool kids from high school don’t worry me, because I have been with cooler. The old bullies don’t worry me, because, frankly, I have been in situations in which they pale in comparison. The girls who rejected me don’t worry me, because I have had better. The reject kids are not rejects to me because I know that they are real people. Twenty years of really living changes a man’s outlook on so much. It is sad that far too many of my old classmates seem mired in the past. It reminds me just how lucky I am to have lived the life I have lived.
If all you have after 20 years are painful memories of who treated you what way in school or of how you were a big man on campus in school, well, that is just plain sad. It is time to get over it.