High School From This Side

originally in Abilene Families

If you’ve been keeping up with life at our house, you realize we started high school this year. Yes, all of us, because it takes a village to pull off this itinerary of comings and goings and events. There is supposed to be academia in there, as well. I hope that is getting accomplished at some point.

Through these beginning few months of high school I have come to realize that high school is so fun when you aren’t in it! There are concerts, parades, pep rallies, sporting events and dances just to begin with. The festivities go on and on.

I love to see all of the uniforms. From my vantage point, everyone has a uniform: band, ROTC, drill team, cheerleaders, athletes, all manner of pseudo-cheerleaders and pseudo-athletes as well. There is cheering and frivolity and parading and pepping and fun, on this side of high school.

But I vividly remember the 16 year old me who didn’t have any uniform to wear. I attended a small school that had athletes and cheerleaders. Period. If you weren’t athletic, there was nothing for you. Unable to safely navigate a crowded room without injury, I did nothing, feeling as out of place as quality merchandise in Wal-Mart.

In larger schools there is much more for students to do, but still there are students that feel as if he or she is in the wrong uniform or feel left out completely when he didn’t make the cut this year. We parents dismissively call it ‘drama’ with a wave of our hand when our children are upset to feel as if they don’t belong, but the human spirit never outgrows the need to feel a part of a tribe, or to be in community.

As a second grade teacher, I had a name tag that said what campus I belonged to, showing I was part of that tribe. Our clan wore Friday shirts, further creating community. Of course, the cool factor for a second grade teacher and her Friday shirt among the general population is negligible, but to my second graders I was a rock star, and that was all that mattered.

When I left teaching to write, I made a startling realization: freelance writers don’t automatically have a tribe. There is no name tag that says I belong at my desk in my bedroom. If I wanted a specific shirt to wear on Friday, my choices were limitless, but they didn’t connect me to a group. I was tribeless.

My children were beginning middle school at the same time and as I observed behaviors and listened to stories about school I noticed a common thread: most people just want to feel as if they belong. I began to take note of what caused tension among different groups that I was a part of in “mature” settings and I noticed a common thread: most people just want to feel as if they belong.

Never underestimate the human spirit’s desire to belong to a tribe, nor its capacity for stupidity in order to be a part of one.

I appreciate those who look for others who may feel left out of a tribe. Not everyone can be a part of your tribe, but everyone can be a part of some tribe, and you may be able to help them find which one that is.

My tribe resembles a carpooling, crock-potting, chaperoning, laundry-stacking, parade-attending, bleacher-cheering mom for this season of life. Do I get a name tag? Letter jacket? Maybe I will win the spirit stick at the pep rally this week.


mindy said...

I can relate. Sometimes finding a local tribe is tough when you don't know anyone else in your season of life. I'm very thankful for a my church family and I appreciate friends of all ages and experiences, but sometimes I yearn for someone else in my season of life. I'm thankful that with technology, the world is smaller. Thanks for reminding me that we all feel this way sometimes:)

Roxanne said...

I am glad you have a tribe for this stage of life. . .and I DO recall some "uniforms" we shared--the Super Pickle dress not the least. . .plenty of costumes for drama, Essie. . .and YOU got a letter jacket. Somehow I never got mine even though I had all the "lettering" to own one. Hmmm. . .

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