With all due respect to those that look back fondly on those last months of high school before summer jobs and college, I couldn’t wait to be done with it all, and I graduated from high school a semester early. A post-secondary option in my state made it possible for me attend college classes during the second semester of my senior year, enabling me to shift any anxious energy from a prom dress to my introduction to my western civilization class. How fortunate.
I couldn’t wait to start college. I thought it would be different. I’d be free from the crushes and the petty he-said/she-said. Gossip, largely created and perpetuated just so there would be something to talk about, would be absent. I’d be spending my time in cafés talking with professors and reading Nietzsche. And college was what I expected, as long as I was not really in college – living at home with my parents as a second semester high school senior. When I went away to college the next fall, I was sorely disappointed. I remember one young woman asking me in the dorm bathroom if “my guy was a frat guy.” The petty dynamics of high school were no less present in college.
My next fixation became what I thought would be a no-nonsense work world. Anyone who has attended a company holiday party would know that my assumption was wrong yet again. I discovered that no matter what age we are, the day-to-day social dynamics and infractions will consume more of our thoughts than we would likely choose.
When we are “in it” we can’t imagine another reality, but when we walk away, transitioning from one job to another, moving from one city to another, we minimize our former infatuations, seldom taking time to reflect on their lost significance before becoming consumed yet again.