I know. I know. I fail at posting. But the next Contrary to Popular Belief is in the works; I just haven’t gotten around to finishing it thanks to school and all. Until I am in the proper mood for humor and life’s play-by-play commentary, I have something else to think about: growing pains.And I’m not talking about physical growth. I mean, sure, the physicality of life kind of sucks when you’re in college what with the freshmen 15 (which people do not believe I have gained. Now there is something that’s contrary to popular belief) and realizing that your chest is bigger than everyone else’s without having to utilize any sort of strapless/push-up bra (I find myself in that situation literally everyday when being compared to my friends). But keeping this on at least a PG-13 level…I’m not even necessarily referring to the fact that in college, people are much more comfortable with discussing sex or sex changes or any of the other mature things we discuss in my women’s studies class, the same things I would never have discussed intellectually in high school except for maybe in my junior and senior theatre classes.
I think I’m getting at the “Gosh, Rhonda…you’re 19, in college, and you’re just now realizing how much things have changed and will change now that you’re out of high school” sort of growing pains. And for me, discussing sex changes and gaining my freshmen 15 aren’t my pains from growth.
What people don’t get is that college students don’t have manuals to tell us what to do or how to do it. There are books to tell us how to drink wine or how to get into college, but there’s nothing out there to tell us that after high school everything changes and how much it will change. And sure, that depends on the person, but what I have found for myself is the following:
1.) Upon graduating from high school, I am automatically expected to be an adult.
Forget even enjoying anything related to my childhood. In my circumstances, after graduation, it was straight to working to make money to pay for my own college education. My family hasn’t paid a dime towards my education except for the rental car and the gas to drive me and all my stuff 4 hours north to get said education. Yet even while doing a lot of this stuff on my own like keeping up my cell phone costs and paying for books and clothes and food, if I were to act too much like an adult, then everyone wants to shoot me right back down. Every time I come home, someone of the middle-aged range at church asks me, “Oh, what? So you think you’re grown now just because you’re in college?” Contrary to popular belief, I do not think I’m grown. In fact, I never said I wanted to be grown. Yes, being older has its perks, perks I’ve been waiting for for over 18 years, but I still can’t drive, I don’t have very much money, and all I can say is that I am legal (minus being able to purchase alcohol and rent a car). I still like watching cartoons (PBS and Qubo are the two greatest things in my opinion), I still eat smiley face fruit snacks, and I still dance like a fool in my bedroom when no one is looking. I’m only 19. Let me be 19.
2.) Upon graduating from high school, I automatically lost my safe haven.
This is not my fault. And I had no say. Theatre was my life for all four years of high school. I loved it and it loved me. Pulling late nights and getting covered in paint and feeling pressure to not mess up when calling a show were by far the greatest feelings to me. And my theatre teacher (who, if she could adopt me, should be considered my mother) was the one person I felt I could trust with anything, including my life. Her classroom was my home away from home and I lived there as well as in our greenroom and auditorium. I can’t say that I have ever had such an attachment to any place like Hillsboro theatre. But upon graduating, I got the worst news ever, news I had been dreading all year: my teacher was leaving Hillsboro for another school in Metro. She was giving up teaching students to do administrative work. My teacher of 4 years, the person who knew me better than anybody was leaving meaning that I had nowhere to go when I came home to visit. (Which has actually been a lot more than she initially gave me credit for, but luckily for us both, I talk to her often enough, so I’ll say that it doesn’t bother me as much as it did at first.)
Now there’s a new teacher. He’s nice. The students like him. My friends who are still at Hillsboro enjoy working with him. And that’s great, but no one should just expect me to give up any resentment I may feel (resentment that isn’t directed towards any one person that is. Resentment that I have in general that has nothing to do with anybody but the fact that Hillsboro theatre was my home) just because everyone likes this guy. I’m sorry, but it’s like asking a 7-year-old to get over having to move to a new house in a different state away from all of their friends. That’s not fair, now is it? (Especially if I were 7 and graduating from high school, but I am 19 and in college so maybe it is fair. I don’t know.)
There’s this column in the greenroom that me and a bunch of my friends signed before we graduated and when the new teacher came in and had the whole greenroom repainted (he said the graffiti was too much), the painters painted over the column despite all of the signs the guy and the students put up saying “Don’t Paint.” I went to visit in early February and he told me what had happened and asked me to resign the column. I did. I went back to see their musical last week, and he told me the column had been spray painted over and that I should sign it again. I didn’t. I’m out of things to say. The place isn’t mine anymore. He doesn’t really understand that everything, every piece of history on those walls from the class of 2009 and before has been erased. And I’m the only one left even visiting. Minus one person, but even she doesn’t feel completely comfortable trying to bring back history.
No one told me that growing up meant having your legacy replaced, removed, emitted, erased…or that your home would be swiped from you without your consent. I guess you get over it though. I’m starting to…slowly…
3.) Upon graduating from high school, I automatically got erased from some people’s memories.
Similar to losing my legacy in the theatre, a legacy I had worked hard to leave for people, I got all sorts of bubbly sadness crap about graduating like, “Rhonda! I’m going to miss you so much!” and “Rhonda! You have to come back and visit!” and even “Rhonda! Don’t forget me! Don’t stop loving me and talking to me!”
What these people didn’t mention is the fact that they had every intention of no longer speaking to you and forgetting about your existence. In their world, you are not there. But as soon as you express any sign of talking to someone else they know that is still actively inside of their world, they get all pissy and bring back that bubbly sadness they had from 6 months ago claiming “Rhonda! I miss you so much! Why don’t you talk to me anymore?! Come see me! Let’s hang out while we’re on break!” even though you tried talking to them all of two weeks before but they ignored you.
Two words: BULL SHIT.
I feel this way when it comes to Hillsboro theatre. Unlike Regina George of Mean Girls, I don’t believe in the whole, “Who is she kidding? I made her” thing. I don’t have that feeling towards any of my friends because I didn’t make them; I helped guide them when they needed or wanted it, but I’m not claiming responsibility for anything concerning their character. But it’s weird not being a part of theatre anymore. I mean, last weekend when I was merrily watching The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, it dawned on me that I will never be apart of that again. I will never be acknowledged, I will never be looked to for help…I will never be a stage manager or be seen as a leader. As if the erasing of the legacy wasn’t enough, graduating from high school kicks you out of anything high school related. And you can’t get it back and though most of the time I think that’s ok, I do not tonight. Tonight, it sucks because after looking at pictures of my friends from that show and reading the comments and statuses, I realize that I just can’t get it back. And I’m not supposed to get it back, I get that, too, but it sucks nonetheless.
4.) Upon graduating from high school, I lost myself.
And I don’t know where I am. Aside from knowing that I want to be an RA, that’s all I’ve got. I have changed my mind about my major from theatre to undecided back to theatre back to undecided to theatre and psychology back to undecided back to theatre and psychology to just psychology to just theatre back to undecided with most of that occurring just in the past month. And it’s ok. I know that. I hate being told that (given that I’m a semester and a half away from telling the college my final decision for the time being), but I know it. I can’t say that I’ll ever know what my path is until I get there. The problem is that there are honestly people in this world who cannot accept that as my answer. I don’t know. I just don’t know. Those same middle-aged people from point number 1, yeah, them. They keep asking me every time I come home (along with the question about being grown) what I’m gonna do with my life. My answer: Well…I’m in college now and… yes, I’m making good grades…no, I don’t know what I want to do yet…I’m working on it…not promising? …well, yes, I know I may have to wait for a job…but I like theatre…but I don’t know what I would do with French…I’ve been thinking about psychology…I don’t know, maybe something with children…I don’t know what they want to do and frankly I don’t care…because I don’t have to know now…I’m only 19…I just got here…ugh…
That is not a very pleasant conversation. And I don’t know where I’m going. And I’m growing into myself. There are some things that just have not changed: I’m not changing myself for people. Sex, drugs, and alcohol have never and will never be my thing. Academics are still important (though not as important as they were in the past…I don’t know what that says. Either my classes are too easy or I’m smarter than I give myself credit for…). I still have brown skin and I still sound educated. But some things are changing: I have my cartilage pierced and almost got an industrial (but didn’t because I’m not sure if I really want it). I lock myself away more often because my transition into college feels so fake right now because it’s freshmen year and I’m not doing anything I like whatsoever for whatever reason. I don’t wear skirts on Wednesdays anymore…It’s a lot to take in half the time. And nobody told me all of that would happen just upon graduating from high school.
5.) Upon graduating from high school, I automatically set myself up for success.
A change from the humdrum. The truth is that despite having to file tax returns and wash my own clothes (which I have been doing for years, but the average college student hasn’t) and not knowing who the hell wants to stay friends with me or not and having to be even more independent than I already was, I did something right in graduating. I succeeded in something. I did something right. Not that not graduating is a bad thing, it just depends on the person. For me, graduating was the best thing I could have done. It meant I had finished a stage of growing and it acted as a catalyst for the growing I’m doing now. Whether I ever get any of the feelings of security back that I had before is completely irrelevant when I think about the fact that I am well on my way to being better than I was a whole year ago sitting in a classroom being scolded over my Extended Essay. I’ve been there and I’ve done that and here I am now trying to make something of myself from all of that.
Growing up sucks. But the thought of never having suffered through the pain when it could mean a better future sucks even more. I guess I’ll just take my chances and love what I love, hate what I hate, talk to whoever wants to talk, be a child when I don’t have to be an adult, and embrace this thing called life. Yeah…growing up totally sucks…but it’s worth it.