I made the mistake of searching for an old friend on Facebook the other day.
We’ve all been there. I mean, you spent four years with these people in high school… where are they now?
I went to high school with this person, and that was about 18 years ago, so you gotta figure that since I haven’t heard from her in that long (and vice versa), we weren’t that close. But her name popped in my head, and I was just wondering what had become of her! I had some time to kill while dinner was cooking. Nothing like avoiding doing something actually practical, right?
To my amazement, I found her pretty quickly! She was married with kids… pretty normal fare.
But then I recognized one of her friends. And then another. I noticed that she was still friends with people from high school.
As in she was still friends with almost everybody we knew in high school.
I had to take a step back when I saw this. I didn’t hear from them when I was in high school, so I certainly didn’t expect to hear from them after we graduated. But why are they still friends with each other? How could they all still know each other, almost 20 years later? How is this possible?
So here’s the deal: I’m in my mid-30s with a solid marriage and amazing kids. We have wonderful friends and a great church. Ben and I have obviously built a life for ourselves that works for us.
Hanging on to the high school years (since we met in our sophomore year, for those keeping count) would be ridiculous. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough, as it was.
But the truth of the matter is that it still stings a little. I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me a little bit that I didn’t feel as if I fit in then, and I still don’t fit in now. I know this is a very silly and shallow idea. I know this. But since I acknowledge that this is just a reactionary feeling, here is a little psychology to get me out of the funk and back into being me!
Image: INTVGene via Flickr
1. Denial and Isolation
"The first reaction to learning that you still aren’t part of clique with the popular kids in high school is to deny the reality of the situation."
Don’t say the following to yourself:
- “Maybe they’ll remember me!”
- “I bet they would love to get a message from me!”
- “Contacting the popular kids while we are in our 30s is a fantastic idea and doesn’t look desperate at all!”
Also, isolating yourself with a beer is one thing. (I suggest Heretic Brewing!) But isolating yourself with a keg is another.
Avoid keg-sized reactions.2. Anger
“As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. Rationally, we know the person is not to be blamed. Emotionally, however, we may resent the person for causing us pain or for leaving us. We feel guilty for being angry, and this makes us more angry.“
I don’t actually have a huge problem with anger, which I know sounds a little weird. I figure if I’m angry, there is something seriously off. Something is bothering some very personal part of me. I can usually count to 10, walk it off, talk some sense into myself, etc. Getting to the root of “why is this bothering me?” helps the process, and I have done this process many (many) times over the years, so it doesn’t take that long anymore. This is pretty clinical, I’m sure, but whatever works, amiright?3. Bargaining
"The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control–"
- If only we had … been more social in high school…
- If only we got … along with the people in high school in the first place…
- If only we had tried to be a better person and … not focused our attention on our college and careers right out of school, and instead spent our time partying and reminiscing on the great times we had on the swim team…
This stage goes by pretty fast. It doesn’t take long for me to say these words and then immediately go, “NOPE!” This is when I really begin to start the recovery.4. Depression
"Two types of depression are associated with mourning. The first one is a reaction to practical implications relating to the loss. Sadness and regret predominate this type of depression. We worry about the costs and burial. We worry that, in our grief, we have spent less time with others that depend on us. This phase may be eased by simple clarification and reassurance. We may need a bit of helpful cooperation and a few kind words."
No one likes a pity puppy. Well, maybe a little bit. They're so cuddly...5. Acceptance
"Reaching this stage of mourning is a gift not afforded to everyone. Accepting not being a popular kid may be sudden and unexpected or we may never see beyond our anger or denial. It is not necessarily a mark of bravery to resist the inevitable and to deny ourselves the opportunity to make our peace of being a normal, well-adjusted person."
Well, a "normal, well-adjusted person" within reason.
Have you ever been stunned by someone you found on Facebook?
(referenced by psychcentral.com)
~~For those of us with fire.~~
More from living