The Highschool Years
They say high school is either the best time, or the worst time of your life. Honestly, for me, it was definitely not the best; I will also admit I do have some fond memories, and a few connections I still keep hold of.
With that said, I will never forget my first day walking in to Regina Mundi Catholic College. It was overwhelming for all us first years, undoubtedly.
Though, for me, I was confronted right away with the fact that this place was going to be harder to handle than the elementary school years- I mean, one dead giveaway was seeing a very openly out and gay student being hit in the head with a football and being taunted for being himself.
That made it easy for me to know I had to continue keeping my head down and being quiet- as no attention was safer than the wrong attention at that time. To me, there was a palpable toxicity in the air- and now a new countdown, one that would take four years to reach its finale.
Regina Mundi Catholic College is located on the outskirts of my hometown, surrounded by forests and the smell of cow shit for five months out of twelve- a building that at one point used to be a priest seminary, and now, was a dilapidated, and literally toxic building (they found extremely high levels of led in the water for one thing). That was nothing compared to a good number of the people who were there.
Don’t get me wrong, some of the teachers were “friendly” on the surface; but, the things they saw some of their students go through daily while turning a blind eye to, or even worse, blaming the victim, was astounding. I guess it was a further lesson on how religion can tend to breed some terrible behaviour in people. I mean, why help the kids being taunted for being gay if you believe that they’re going to hell?
I will take a moment to be clear and state that not all of the staff at the school were like this; and that I have never forgotten the ones who were kind and truly cared, in fact, I respect them even more now that I fully understand how their caring made them stick out to their co-workers.
Honestly, most students at the school probably thought the same teachers I saw as poor excuses of adults were just fine, and I get that- these same teachers seemed friendly to anyone who fit what they thought was normal, and so, unless you were an outlier, you’d probably never notice.
As for the students, well, I will be even more clear to say that in my entire highschool experience there were less than twelve people that I liked at all. The rest of them were products of a society that was only kind if you fit in, and absolutely abhorrent toward you if you didn’t.
As a teenager I didn’t quite realize that, and I spent years believing that I was the broken one for not being exactly like the rest of them.
I used to think they were the happy ones.
I know for a fact that the misery they placed on others like me was spilling over from their own insecurities. That they too, were broken in ways that they could never be brave enough to admit. I don’t blame them for that; but, I will also never forget that they took some weird joy out of tormenting those they deemed as less.
I will sum up the first two and a half years with short and blunt honesty- I didn’t like a single person that I was around. At all. Even the ones who pretended to be my friends and thought they had tricked me just to use the pool at my house or whatever else they thought they could get from me thinking I was too dumb to realize. I knew, and I was ok with it. I believed it was better than nothing at the time.
I will also admit some of those people I hated then have become people I have come to love now, and that we have had proper discussions about why we acted the way we did to each other back in those days- as for the rest? I honestly don’t have any opinion on them because they didn’t matter to me then, and they certainly don’t matter to me now.
What I do know is that a lot of people who treated me poorly seemed to want to switch gears years down the road when I first appeared on television for Much Music to be one of their new hosts- which I found hilariously transparent, and in poor taste. Like, sorry Karen, you may like me now all of a sudden; but, I still don’t like you.
Moving forward, my last two years of high school I did manage to form some real connections with people that to this day are some of the kindest I have ever met. I will be the first to admit that knowing them back then probably saved my life in ways I never realized at the time. They were what made the difference between my high school years being entirely unbearable and being manageable. I did lose touch with a lot of them; but, that came from moving my life abroad after graduation, and I have been happy to reconnect with some of them recently.
I will also admit that there were some people I wrongfully judged before I got to know them, and that by the night of our senior prom we were all skinny dipping in the freezing cold lake at two in the morning in cottage country as five highschools full of students converged to Grand Bend Ontario, taking up all the rental cottages, and honestly being extremely misbehaved teens.
It was spectacular. Ironically, had we all gotten drunk together two or three years before we all may have been better friends or at least kinder to each other. Well, for the most part. I mean there was one girl I always thought was just mean hearted that drunkenly told me I walked like a penguin (because of my spinal fusion). Like, bitch, I was still in recovery, and to this day I am sure she never recovered from being a raging see you next Tuesday.
Outside of school life, home life was quite difficult between 2006-2010 when we had to cut my father out of our lives for doing some truly vile things that I refuse to go in to detail about.
Let's just say he was never who he claimed to be and he stole so much from us. He also said that he was going to make sure we ended up on the streets without him- I know this because he screamed it in my face at the age of fourteen.
I will say that I have come to peace with that years ago and have been happy to count nearly seventeen years since he was kicked out, and thirteen years ago was the last time we would ever exchange words.
Having my parents split during high school was a hard experience to live through; but, the harder part was his entire family turning a blind eye to what had happened, and some of them treating my mom, brother and I as though we never existed- which was pretty gross considering we had all been very close before that, and because my mother was one of the main people in the family that did things to help his mother who was in her eighties at the time.
The lesson I learned from my dad and from them was that blood doesn’t mean a thing, and that you do not need to love someone just because you are related to them. You also don't need to spend your life mourning those who chose not to be a part of your world.
It actually isn’t a terrible lesson; it has helped me get out of terrible and toxic relationships much easier later in my life, and for that, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Years later, some of them have tried to re-enter our lives; but, only one of them, my cousin Kim, has bothered to have a deep conversation about why we hadn’t spoken in years. It has been a pleasure speaking with her again.
I have also reconnected with my younger cousin Michaela, whom used to play barbies with me all the time when we were kids; but, that was easer because our distance came more from the fact her parents were already divorced and we sadly lost touch a while before the dissolution of my parents marriage.
As for the rest of them?
Well, as far as I see it, I haven’t known them since I was fourteen, and I am now thirty.
They’re strangers to me, and nothing more than ghosts.
I mourned the loss of them years ago, and I do not feel the need to dig up that grave.
I say this full well knowing that they will read these words as well, and that is perfectly fine with me.
I was too young then to even know what to say to the people who turned their backs on us; but, I am old enough now to say that they lost their chance to get to know who I am years ago, and that really sucks for them.
So, my high school experience wasn’t amazing, and it wasn’t all terrible; but, I don’t spend much time thinking of it anymore.
I much prefer to focus on the future, even though it’s blurry- because the past is nothing but a trap.
I share it for context on where I have been in my life, and how no matter what happens to you, you have the power to make your life whatever you want it to be.
One thing I can tell you is that I am glad I didn’t fit in with the rest of the kids at school.
It felt terrible at the time; but, as life moved forward I came to realize that most of the people I went to school with seem to have been trapped in their same little group of friends, and in their same closed off world even thirteen years after graduation.
It also helps most of them have aged terribly. All tea, all shade.
Peaking in high school is a real thing. Just ask the people who used to tell me I shouldn’t exist.
All these little words in this weeks blog may seem petty; and that’s because sometimes it really does feel good to just tell it like it is. Anyone who knows me, knows that sugar coating isn’t something I do.
I know it's so Savage x Fenty of me; but, it's taken me years to realize I’m that bitch they all slept on. And to be able to thank them for not letting me be a part of their lives, as it only helped me be prepared to make mine exactly what I want it to be.
With that said, I thank each and every person I met those years for helping make me who I am today, and for making me stronger than yesterday.
To those I connected with in that freezing cold water or on that sandy beach, I see you, and I am sorry we didn’t give each other the chance to be friends sooner.
To those I lost touch with because of time and distance, I cherish you and thank you for making those years better than they would have been.
To those who told me I should kill myself, I guess I did, and I came back better than ever before, and far more grown than you ever will be.
My advice to anyone being put down or abandoned by people in their life? Whenever people undervalue who you are, I challenge you to value yourself higher.
That the pain you feel today, will only make you shine brighter later.
That those who show you they don’t want to be a part of your life when things are hard; but come back later when things are good, should never be welcomed back.
Most importantly, If I could tell fourteen year old me one thing, it would be to NEVER hide who you are for fear that others won’t accept it.
The ones who matter will, and the rest?
Let them choke on it.
And to always remember_
Fitting in is a trap.