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Thursday, July 07, 2022

High school me was very different than the current me. Now, this column is not going to be about my dynamic growth as a person, so I’m not going to go into too much detail. Here are some highlights: High school me was going to wait until she was 21 to drink (ha). High school me thought it was cool to wear a skirt over jeans. High school me once put a stuffed lobster in her pocket to be quirky. High school me was very self-conscious about wearing glasses. High school me thought no boy would ever like her. High school me didn’t go to parties and then justified that she wasn’t invited with the fact that she wouldn’t have wanted to go anyway.

High school was not the best time of my life, but it also wasn’t the worst.

I learned a lot, academically and personally. I made some great friends — a few I still talk to, a few who were just friends for that time. I got to do some cool things.

Overall, it was pretty good. I wouldn’t go back, but don’t dread thinking about it. I have some fond memories, but I definitely do not consider those years to be the best of my life.

I think I will feel the same way about college when I leave. I learned a lot, academically and personally. I made some great friends. I got to do some cool stuff. I will look upon my college years fondly. But I wouldn’t want to go back.

Society and media, for some reason, seem to idealize the good old days. So many TV shows and movies tout college and high school as the best days of your life. While I’m sure most of us can separate fiction from reality, the fact is we encounter lots of people who fit this description.

There’s a group of people I went to high school with who seem to be stuck in the same high school mentality. When I see them, we talk about high school, but it’s different from when I talk about the shared past with some of my other friends. When I speak with my best friend, we recollect fond moments, and we smile at them, but then we slip comfortably back into our current lives. When I talk with these specific people, we get stuck in a rut. It’s enjoyable while it lasts, I will admit. That thrill of gossip (although the topics have passed nearly eight years ago) is sweet, but it’s like molasses: Too much of it and it gets stuck to the roof of my mouth.

I walk away, and I feel remnants of my high school self creep back onto me, and I just need to shake her off.

It’s a comfortable mold to fall into. You know it well, after all. There were good moments there, but it’s not somewhere you want to stay. It’s not somewhere I want to stay, at least. It’s fun to look back, I’ll admit that. I’m a nostalgic person. I keep ticket stubs and receipts and look at old pictures to smile fondly on them. But there’s a difference between looking back and never moving forward.

I understand that high school and college represent the times before real responsibilities, like mortgages and 9-to-5 jobs and health care. I understand high school and college represent halcyon days of our youth — old enough to decide what to do with our Friday nights, but young enough that we don’t have to plan so much for Monday morning. Yes, it’s fun to look back, but there are some people who never move on.

There’s no solution to this — nor is it particularly a problem. It is, however, something to keep in mind. When you look back on your past, can you say you have actually moved on?

Petrana Radulovic is UF English and computer science (super) senior. Her column appears on Fridays.

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