Summertime always seems to make me a little nostalgic. I am a beach girl; I was raised in Santa Cruz County where hanging at the beach and outdoor fun was always a huge part of my summer experience.
So recently, while digging out some old photo albums of my boys my eyes caught a glimpse of my old High School yearbooks. It’s been well over 30 years since I cracked open those books full memories. Being a “people person” I took a little time to Google and Facebook some of the names of past friends; I love to see what others have been doing and always hoping that they have had a good, meaningful life.
Looking at the young faces of friends I was reminded of so many memories, conversations and frankly, shenanigans! I found many friends were living their best lives while others had faced some significant challenges. Life can have some unexpected twists and turns for sure!
I decided to go back through the yearbooks with another filter, looking for those that I could remember as students who weren’t in the IN CROWD. I could distinctly remember those who were loners, even those who got bullied. I was able to pick out those girls who were criticized and misunderstood; my heart was sad. No one wants to feel unexpected or misunderstood. Junior High and High School can be such a brutal time.
Coming from a family of 6 girls I was fortunate to have a regular solid posse around me but I would still get dressed for High School full of anxiety for the uncertainty of the day. I always tried to have a smile on my face but there were many days I was dying with insecurity inside.
My third year of college I got to experience what many of the students I had identified as disenfranchised at my High School experienced every day. I transferred from a college in Northern California to a college in Costa Mesa, Ca. The leadership used the first 3 days of school to take the entire student body to a mountain retreat. I was new, knowing no one so I was not excited about this experience. When I checked into my room no one acknowledged me, at mealtimes no one at the table spoke to me, during the free time activities no one invited me in. The experience of being desperately lonely while being surround by people who are connected to one another is really the worst kind of lonely. I sat alone and wept. I understand that feeling now.
Certainly I am older and wiser now but if I could I would go back to those in my High School Yearbook who experienced this on a daily basis. I wish I could go back and lighten their load; help them to feel excepted. I wish…….
Truth is, everyday we have people around us who are in need of encouragement, acceptance, and connection. I noticed it in High School but I was so focused on myself that I overlooked their hurtful experience. In this season of life I now better, you know better. Let’s pay attention, reach out, include and care. Lonely is an awful place to be.