Forgiving Your Youth
I recently gave in and joined a Facebook group of my high school batch. It wasn’t really just my senior class. These were girls (I attended an all-girls school) I had started kindergarten with and proceeded to spend my entire childhood with. We were essentially thrown together, spending roughly 8 hours a day, 9 or so months of the year together for 13 years. They witnessed the embarrassment that was my youth, but then again, we all behaved with immaturity, so who’s to say that my childhood was any more cringe-inducing than the next person’s.
How was I as a child? I was your average kid — selfish, shallow, and narrow-minded in my childishness. As if that didn’t already make me a true delight, I was also a very angry kid for some reason. It’s like I was born raging at the world.
And these girls saw me at my angriest and most depressed (thus far… hopefully, I’ve already sunk to my lowest). I was really hesitant about joining up, but the handful of friends I had convinced me that it was so much fun reminiscing, how everybody’s just laughing at our old silliness.
It’s not like I did anything truly horrendous except be unhappy, and then, even considering that, it’s not like I had zero happy moments. I had plenty of those. It’s just that my general demeanor, my way of life, my aura, etc. were dismal. You can safely assume that I really excelled at being an angst-ridden youth.
How do I like the group so far? My old anxieties sometimes sneak up on me, but so far I haven’t really seen any evidence of meanness or cattiness from the girls. I wasn’t really bullied or terrorized (doesn’t mean I got out without getting traumatized), but that’s mainly because I stuck close to my circle. I was distinctly low profile and kept my head down, so I didn’t get singled out for a lot of negative attention. I didn’t escape unscathed, of course. I was a foolish kid, so I made many missteps, but nothing that would have caused everybody to still be talking about it in the present day. You can trust that there was much pettiness as well as affected drama, but it was all pretty much the generic kind.
I’ve only dipped my toe so far. I’ve joined in the birthday greetings, posted mild remarks in threads I was interested in, and gave virtual hugs and kisses to people I liked in the past. People have mostly changed for the better. Of course, many of us look a good deal heftier than we used to, but the physical stuff can mostly be ignored even if I do find myself appreciating girls who were mousy seeming more vibrant, those who were riddled with zits displaying clearer complexion due to great acne scar treatment, and those who looked victimized by ’80s trends (basically, all of us) sporting much calmer and more reasonable styles.
What’s really important, however, is how we’ve grown. We have a better sense of humor now. Our patience and tolerance have considerably increased. We don’t really sweat the small stuff anymore. Who’d bother, anyway? We’re all just so tired and busy to fret over the old drama.
Ultimately, I’ve come to the conclusion that, in order to enjoy that group better, I have to learn to forgive my young self. They don’t hold my old behavior against me. We all accept that’s just what people do when they’re young, so I should stop holding it against myself.
I’ve always been able to hold a grudge against someone. It turns out I also do the same to myself. Well, enough.