One of my very best friends moved to Texas last week (lucky, lucky Texas) and it got me to thinking about when I was a kid and we moved every few years. My dad worked for IBM, affectionately known as I’ve Been Moved. When my dad announced we were moving again—right before I started high school—I made the brilliant decision not to make friends as a form of protest and self-protection. Why make friends when I was just going to have to leave them in a few years? Guess what. My parents still live in the same house where I went to high school, so my ingenious plan wasn’t quite so ingenious after all.
What my plan did, however, was instill a sense of invisibility into me that’s never left. Let me explain. You know how people always say that the high school years are the best years of your life? Well, I think that sentiment comes from the fact that the high school years are capable of making a huge impression on your life, the kind of impression that sticks and that you carry with you forever.
Just last night my husband and I attended his high school reunion and I know those years hold a very special place in his heart. He was a happy, confident, popular guy in high school and those words describe his life today. If someone from high school had to describe me back then, they probably wouldn’t know what to say other than shy and quiet. I don’t think my friends today would describe me using those terms.
My decision to make myself invisible during high school had huge consequences in my life and still shapes the things I do today. I didn’t sleep through high school; I just didn’t participate. While I wasn’t participating, I learned a whole lot about human behavior because I was observing. To this day, I’ll often choose to sit back and let life go on around me while I observe and take note.
Do these observations on everyday life make it into my books? Absolutely. Does this mean if I could go back and change my high school behavior, I would choose not to because my observation skills greatly enhance my writing? What a silly question! I can’t go back and change anything!
What about you? What behaviors from high school do you carry around with you today? I’d love to know.