I want to write about my hometown. I grew up in a small town. (Just like the song.) I think the proper name is actually a village. The town had a population of about 200 people. My graduating class has 28 kids. I think it was 28. The school I went to was in my town, but a few surrounding towns also went to it.
I didn’t love small town life. I never felt comfortable in my own skin there. I didn’t know who I was, and had trouble trusting that I could be who I was. I loved my family. I loved my very close circle of friends. I wasn’t one of the cool crew. I’m okay with that now.
I haven’t really stopped to think about how others felt in high school. I’m guessing even the most popular kids didn’t really feel comfortable in their own skin. School is tough. Being a teenager is tough. Those that were able to be themselves were super stars in my eyes.
I spoke about how I felt in my letter to myself earlier this month. I had very low self esteem leaving the town because I didn’t trust that I was good enough. I constantly worried that the whole world would see me as the not cool girl I was.
I wasn’t a sporty person in high school. I played volleyball until I finally gave up. Sports were the worst for my self esteem, and I spent a lot of years trying to stay away from them after high school. Gym class was hated by me. I did okay in school, but didn’t put in the effort I could have. That’s on me. I wish I had taken advantage of the learning opportunities. I only took advantage in the classes I liked, and with the teachers I liked.
Although I wasn’t cool, I still tried to be. The problem was I was really shy, and didn’t feel comfortable talking unless the words would come out perfect. I didn’t want to give anybody reasons to make fun of me. That being said, I think as most teenage girls can be, at times I was mean to others. Not a lot, but every once in a while I would say something teasing in an attempt to be cool. It didn’t work, and I usually felt bad about it.
I want to talk more about my high school experience even though that’s not what this post was originally going to be about. I have a memory that I want to write about. It’s been something I have never forgotten, and never written about before. Actually, I’ve never talked about it at all. Possibly because I was worried somebody from high school would read it. If they do, I need to stop caring.
I remember being in a class where half of our high school class were there, and the other half must have been taking something else. I think it was only some of the girls. I don’t even remember what we were learning. In this class, there was a division. Popular and unpopular to put it bluntly. During the class, they constantly split us into partners, and there was an uneven amount between us. One of the two groups always ended up together. This shouldn’t matter. We were from a small town, and we all knew one another. I knew it was happening. I saw the division. I was never partners with them. I need to be clear that this was grade ten or eleven. An age where we had been in school together for years, and we still weren’t all friends. (It’s pretty obvious that you aren’t going to be friends or click with everybody.)
After class, one of the girls in the class was talking to one of her friends, and as I was standing right there. She said to her, “One of us always gets partnered with one of the losers.”
For some reason, her saying that, without even looking around to see who she was talking in front of, didn’t make me upset. At this point, I knew the division. It did show me a bit more of her personality. It was a mean thing to say. It was mean. It made her a mean girl in my mind. At the time, I thought she was also being honest. She could have phrased it in a nicer way. She didn’t. She didn’t care that she might have been hurting somebody. Actually, I felt invisible at that moment. Luckily, at that point, I knew a bit more about who I was, and I was mostly okay with not being in the group that referred to others as losers.
Last year, we had our 20 year reunion. There was a Facebook group inviting us to the planned event. It was obvious that some had already discussed what the plans were before they made the event. That’s fine. I knew as soon as I heard about it that I wasn’t that interested in going. I am friends with some of these people on Facebook, and I enjoy seeing their lives, and learning more about who they are out of high school. I would love to sit down and chat with them some day, but I wasn’t at all excited about paying to sit there and possibly see the division once again. I’m more of a one on one catch up gal. I wasn’t part of the group, and I was okay with missing out. As I looked at the names of those attending, and those that turned it down, I realised I probably wasn’t the only person who felt like this. The people who were attending were all friends in high school. I wonder if they noticed who was missing, and wondered why.
In truth, many people didn’t go because they had plans. Life is busy. Twenty years later, some of us have kids, some of us have other things going on. I didn’t want to go. Even if it seems like I am, it’s not because I’m bitter. I know that my classmates are nice people. I’m sure they’ve grown up to be caring and wonderful. Even the girl from the above story was not a bad person. Not liking somebody isn’t a bad thing. While calling a group of people a loser isn’t a nice thing to do; it was high school. High school is hard for absolutely everybody. I assume it is. I didn’t go because I didn’t want to feel like the high school me. Awkward and unsure of myself. I also had my own things going on.
I am who I am because of who I was in high school. I have some good memories of every girl and boy in that class. Not all good, but we laughed a lot. I’m still friends with a few of the friends I had in high school. Actually, my friend and I made sure to meet up this summer for a cheers to 20 years.
I guess if you’re reading this and you’re in high school, please remember that your words mean something to somebody. People hear them. There’s nothing wrong with being a kind person. I wish I had been kinder sometimes. I hope I can teach my son how to be caring instead of making fun of others. I really hope that if I teach him anything, it’s how important a kind word is to others.
I got off track. I was going to talk a little bit about my life growing up in a small town, and then I was going to talk about how much I love visiting now.
I love visiting my parents. First of all, I love the quiet. I used to hate it, but I enjoy the peace and quiet now. I like the feeling of being in my small town. I love walking around with my dog and son. I love the fact that I can see people, but also, I can go for an entire walk without bumping into anybody. I also like bumping in to people from my past. I like catching up on their lives. I like learning about others.
For the most part, the people I bump into are my parent’s friends, but I see people from my own generation as well.
I love driving around the area. It’s a gorgeous area of Saskatchewan, and I find beauty everywhere I look.
Growing up, I was sure that city life was where I belonged. In fact, I imagined myself moving to Toronto. Now that I’m older, I don’t mind the idea of being in a smaller area. I’m lucky that I grew up in my small town. Life wasn’t perfect, but when is life perfect? I’m lucky I still have my small town and all of the people in it.
While writing my first (and only finished novel), I knew I wanted to add some small town life into it. It is not at all about my own small town, but about a small town I invented. It’s something I know about. I’m lucky enough to get the best of both worlds. City life and small town life.
To end this, I’ll share some photos of my home town.
Thanks for reading. This isn’t a post to complain about any part of my past, or to make you think I was bullied. I wasn’t. It’s just a part of my life. I’m proud of every part of it, and proud of who I became in spite (or because) of it.
©ErinLeahMcCrea All photos I share on my blogs are my own, please Ask Me For Permission Before Using Them.