Friday, March 30, 2012

my life: high school

Currently doing a auto-bio series, hoping to reflect, learn, and grow...and for you to get to know this blogger better!  To catch up read "the kiddo years" and "the 'tween years" :)

In the beginning...

I entered high school as though I was entering Narnia through the wardrobe.  It was a whole new world.  I had no idea about things such as "switching classes" or "lockers" or "bells" -- I was from a tiny, country church school in the middle of a valley with a "crick" running through it.  I had only two other kids in my eighth grade class!
Here I am - first day of high school:
While the Lutheran high school my parents had chosen for me and my siblings to attend was still pretty small, it was located in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, an hour away from my tiny hometown, and my freshman class had around 100 kids in it.   It may as well have been a thousand.  
Plus, all of a sudden there were all these boys around!  None of them seemed very interested in me, and I had absolutely no idea how to be "cool" and "attractive" around guys.  Therefore I acted super weird and really annoying...I think I thought I was flirting.  :)

To that end:  in one of my freshman classes the teacher wanted us all to write one positive descriptive word about every person in the class.  Then she compiled them and handed them out to us.  Mine read: 
Hmmmm...I'm not sure how "unaware" and "gets picked on a lot" are positives...but I can't really argue with them.  "Unaware" is a pretty apt term for how I acted my freshman and sophomore years...which was like a complete ditz.  I'm sure this was just my way of getting attention.  And I did get "picked on" a lot, by the boys I was trying to get attention from by acting "unaware."  Wow - I know - not exactly a brilliant plan!  Which brings us to...


Did I have any romance in high school?  Well, my dad needn't have worried too much.  In high school I had exactly one boyfriend when I was finally allowed to date at 16...and he dumped me like a bad habit after a few months of our long-distance relationship {we went to different schools.}  The break up devastated me...even though it was a mere case of puppy love.   I never dated one boy who went to my high school.  There weren't any I viewed as more than a friend.  Not sure that any viewed me as anything more than a friend.  In any case, I wasn't asked out a lot.

An Actress: To Be? No, Not to be.  

As a "frosh" I was clueless.  I joined the volleyball team only because my sister had been good at volleyball {she had just graduated the spring before} and so, as with most things, I thought I had to follow in her footsteps.  Not a good move.  Remember what I said about me and sports involving a ball and coordination?  I sucked at volleyball.  Bad.  

Then I tried out for the fall children's theater production.  Drama, I thought, will be my thing.  However, the director did not think so.  I tried out for the part of the "little girl" who was one of the main parts.  I thought I nailed the audition.  Some of the veteran, upperclassmen actors gave me a ton of positive feedback so I thought I really had the part in the bag.  But when I strode confidently up to the cast list posted in the cafeteria the next day, my heart sunk to my toes.

I was cast as "the bird."  Sure, I should have been happy just to get a part, as there weren't many to begin with, but I was devastated.  Eventually I licked my wounds and went on to have a very fun time being part of the production, hoping maybe next time the director would pick me for something with more substance.

"Next time," as a sophmore, I wasn't cast at all!   Not even a woodland animal.   Crushed, I decided it just wasn't in the cards for me as an actress.  But then, by some miracle, one of the females who had been cast had to drop out of the play.   A senior guy who had always rooted for me convinced the director to let me have her"the dwarf."  I somehow made the best of it...

However, I never tried out for any more plays at that school, deciding that either I was a horrific actress, or the director casted based on things other than talent.  Either way, I was done. My only other extra-curricular was managing the wrestling team my sophomore year, which was lots of fun, but not exactly a good fit for me, either.


The demise of my acting career aside, the first two years of high school were fine.  Even fun!  I made some friends despite living so far away.     
But it was hard for me to get super close to anyone, for some reason.  Maybe because I felt like I spent half my life in the carpool lane, as it was an hour drive there and back...which also made it difficult to stay for games to socialize or go to other functions.  Maybe it was because I am fairly introverted and tend to not be very talkative in big groups of girls...and that is what I felt like I was always in.  I have always been best with one-on-one interactions.  Anyway, I had some sweet and lovely friends...but probably held most at an arm's length. 
Here I am with my friend Amanda, all gussied up in my prom dress.  Prom dress - yes.  Prom - no.  This was for our spring choir concert:
I never went to prom.  My sophomore year one of the wrestlers I was friends with asked me.  He was cute and I thought it might be fun to go as friends, so I said yes.  I was super excited, already had the *above* dress, and then the very next day - he dumped me.  Told me that the girl he actually "liked" (i.e. wanted to date) was newly single and he wanted to go with her.  "But don't worry," he said reassuringly, "I have a friend that will take you!"  Good God.  I'd never been more insulted in my life.  Being passed on to a friend.  I politely declined this "mercy date" and proceeded to decline all other offers from potential prom dates in the years to come.  I decided I wouldn't go unless I was seriously dating someone.  I never was, so I never went to prom.  Don't worry...I'm not traumatized from it. :)

Homework?  Not so much. 

In general, high school was stressful for me because of the long drives, the crowds in the lunchroom and hallways, and the lack of encouragement I received.  I had some really amazing teachers and pastors there...I just was very distracted/tired and did not put forth the effort I could have.  I was smart, and very capable of studying and getting A's.  My freshman year I was on the A Honor Roll.  Sophomore year I was B Honor Roll. However,  by Junior year I had mentally "checked out" of high school.  I did enough academically to get by.  Not proud of this fact - just being honest.

Me: The "Worker Bee" 

Instead of school, I shifted my focus solely on work.  My junior year I  got a part-time job with several of my friends from school at a party goods store.

I loved having a job!  I loved getting a paycheck.  I loved the managers - who let me and my friends joke around with them and have a good time, while still getting the job done.  One in particular took me under his wingencouraged me, and respected me.  While my teachers at school didn't seem to know I existed {probably because I didn't put in much effort and fell asleep in class a lot} my store manager gave me decent hours,  and plenty of new responsibilities that kept me interested in my job.    I worked with him for two years there...and he also helped me get a job later at DSW, where I worked for eight years, ending up as a store manager myself.   (But that's another story!)  

Here I am at work, during Halloween season, dressed in my go-to getup:  Inferna, Goddess of Flames:

I was a born worker!  Does that sound odd?  Not something most people brag about.  It wasn't that the job itself was that exciting - cashiering, creating balloon bouquets, fetching costumes, and stocking shelves.  What I loved was the everyday activity of going to work, being on time, doing my very best, and reaping the benefits -- raises, promotions,  new challenges/responsibilities, verbal praise, etc.  Plus, the money I earned gave me independence, another bonus for this very independent girl.  I could finally afford to buy clothes at the "cool" stores...not the boring ones in my tiny hometown "mall."   And since I had recently got my driver's license and had a car to drive to the various malls around the Twin Cities, most of my hard-earned cash went to gas and clothing! I was loving it all.

Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll?  Not quite.

All throughout high school I expressed my rebellious side not by drinking any alcohol or doing any drugs or having sex {I was a complete goody two shoes in all these regards} but by dying my hair horrific colors.  Okay, not like blue or green...I wasn't that rebellious.  However, blonde definitely was not a good look:
I took the absolute worst school pictures.

And here I was as a redhead:

I also did some ridiculous things that I thought were funny.  Mostly harmless.   For example, I'm pretty sure my Dad, the pastor of this church, would have frowned on my taking this picture on the church sign:

Church/Youth Group

I felt like I had a whole other life back in my hometown, away from school.   I was extremely active in my church youth group -- where I was the opposite of what I was at school -- loud, outgoing, talkative, involved and always wanting to have fun!
I actually loved being a pastor's kid {PK.}  My relationship with Jesus has always been strong, and my Dad's strong Christian example was a definite influence.
 Plus, I loved escaping to his office immediately after church!
In youth group I got to climb mountains, hike the Grand Canyon, canoe countless lakes, whitewater raft rivers, and do mission work all over the country...oh and Canada and Mexico.   My Dad took us {groups of up to 30 young people} year after year on adventures that would not have been possible without his planning and unending spirit of adventure.   So many kids, myself included, benefited from these journeys -- growing in their faith, their physical strength, and their love of the outdoors.

I had been camping, canoeing, hiking and cross-country skiing since my mom would let my dad wrench me out of her arms -- at 3-years-old.   I grew up listening to John Denver.   But it was in my teen years that it became not just something that I had to do, but something I needed to feel healthy and happy. I just love being outside.  Period.  I knew if I ever got married someday, the mister would have to like camping.
We did everything outdoors -- cooked, slept, went to the bathroom, and bathed in ice-cold mountain lakes.  Or, at least those of us who were brave/crazy enough:

A Runner is Born

It was the summer before Senior Year that I discovered one of my main passions in life - running!  All throughout high school I had continued to walk around the perimeter of our farm whenever I had a few hours to spare, so I stayed in decent shape, and it definitely helped me to have time to ponder life during those long walks.  However, that summer I decided to take it to the next level:  I started to run.  It started as brief sprints during my walks.  Then I would alternate running a lap, then walking a lap.  Then I would run four times around {about a mile} as fast as I could  then stop and do 1000 crunches, then run another mile, and another, until I was averaging 3-4 miles each day.
I wasn't fast, but I was consistent.
And I loved it.
I felt so awesome running and doing crunches,
feeling fit and looking toned -
I was hooked.
{still am!}
I could always be counted on to act goofy in a photo!

Ending on a Positive Note

Besides working hard at the party goods store, and running/working out, another way I survived Senior Year was by switching schools for a semester solely so I could actually be in a theatrical production. I craved the stage.  At this even smaller school I was able to land the role of "Nurse Kelly" in that school's production of Harvey - a sizable role I was very suited for.   I enjoyed the entire experience thoroughly!
Here I am greeting theater-goers after the play:
Then, after one semester, I headed back to my original school, which I was very happy to do.  It was nice to graduate with kids that I knew.  The year went by fast and I did the normal things "Seniors" get senior photos taken {I hated mine}:
Finally, I shook the principal's hand and got my diploma:
High school being finally done,  I was off to college!    I would be moving off the farm to the actual big city of St. Paul - in the thick of it! -to live in a dorm room and experience college life!  I was a little scared, but mostly excited.  I don't think I knew quite what I was in for...

The next chapter?  The College Years {Part One}