Saturday, December 4, 2010

Why I hated 8th grade, part 529.

Omphaloskepsis: excessive introspection, self absorption, or concentration on a single issue.

Interesting dream this morning. While visiting a friend in San Francisco, I began reliving unfun times at my 8th-grade yuppie training facility. Some background: Back in the day, I decided rather stupidly to jump ship from a middle school I rather liked into a richie-rich prep school with a three paragraph-long dress code. (The parents thought that I had exhausted the curriculum at the former school, and they really wanted to say their son was going to one of the most prestigious schools in town.) Bad enough that being 13 or so is already tumultuous. Add on the fact that the kids at this school were snobs who had already formed their cliques. They were not going to be interested in having a nerd with braces, large square-rimmed glasses, an unflattering buzz cut, and more-than-lacking social skills soil them with his uncool ways. So I gritted my teeth and endured 8th grade with no lack of Sturm und Drang.

So, back to my dream. Recounted to my friend how much I hated that place. He then produced a letter out of thin air and told me to read it. It was from a guy who was among the quieter, nerdier types who, despite this, was still in one of the cool cliques (due to his longer tenure there). His letter was actually really complimentary. He said he wished we could have been better friends, and in the end, he wished me well. Whoda thunk?

Enter Facebook, for better or worse. I found...well, not this guy. Not immediately, at least. I first found another guy I had known in this former life of mine, who had well over 600 friends. And amongst them, I found quite a few names from said former life. It was wild to see how many people I had known in the past, and how many people I had turned my back on. And not necessarily for the worse, either. There were lots of kids I just plain didn't get along with. The pictures I saw were pretty telling, too. These people are now living, in part, the life I wanted to avoid as much as possible. Yuppie families, consisting of real estate agents, architects, self-employed people, and the like. All showing off their happy babies and young kids. Beautiful people smiling over fancy dinners, functions, benefits, and charity gatherings. (Never mind that I'm actually kind of a guppie myself, and self-employed too.)

Back in the day, I hated these kids more than I can say. They were my ultimate nemesis. I saw a lot of what I did not want my life to be like. I saw a lot of who I did not want to be friends with. Unfortunately, what I did not see was a good view of how I wanted my life to be like.

One thing I've learned while being self-employed is that if you are to be successful, you have to have a razor-sharp clear vision of what that success looks like. And that has been incredibly difficult for me to envision. I've always known the opposite. It's awfully tough to look at things that are traditionally associated with success, and not reject them out of hand. When I was younger, my view of "success" involved a lot of business casual, a lot of snifters and highballs in the den while discussing business, a lot of easy-listening crap from the 1970s, and not a whole lot of iconoclastic fun. And the kids of these so-called successful grown-ups seemed entitled, spoiled, and either pranksterish frat boys in the making or holier-than-thou princesses. I was usually the target of these kids. Again, this wasn't how I wanted to live my life. The problem was, I couldn't find exactly how I wanted to live my life for a long, long time.

Even now, I have a hard time sometimes talking about things I love in my life, things for which I have a great passion or a great desire to see/do. Music is up there, as is writing...

Okay. This is getting even too solipsistic and What Color is your Parachute-ish even for me. I'll spare you the details.

Oh, and that dream? I'm certain there's a big lesson in there for me about how I should give these people who I grew up with a second chance. Or something.

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