I remember skating through high school, doing barely enough to get by mostly to just get out of there. I had grand dreams that real life had to be better than that shallow existence we lived out inside those oppressively painted brick walls. I believed that in the real world, merits and hard work would get you far and having a decent enough personality to not be a sociopath was enough. I thought that people stopped judging you for silly things and fitting in would be so much easier. I told myself that being an individual and your own person wouldn’t matter; people didn’t want cookie cutter people in the real world. That was all high school worries that I didn’t need to concern myself with now. Soon, I realized how incredibly wrong and naive I was…
In my job, I worked hard and excelled. I was on good terms with the owners and the General Manager of the hotel, and I was well-liked by them. I always went above and beyond what was asked of me in hopes that I would climb up this ladder into a better position with better pay. I worked up from being a waitress to the front desk, which was a big leap for that establishment. After being promised my first promotion into head of the banquet wait staff, I was excited. I pulled extra hours doing my job while training for the promotion. Until I ended up not getting the promotion suspiciously around the same time I ended up finding out I was pregnant. Fear not, I was assured. Work hard, and you’ll work your way up in no time. Then the reality hit. It wasn’t how hard I worked, it was how friendly I was with the new Banquet head. And by “friendly”, I mean willing to be “more than friends”. I had witnessed the popular “pretty” girls flirt their way up, getting more hours and better pay. I realized that, much like in high school, who you associate with will benefit you.
When I went to college, I again hoped that college was different from high school. Again, I realized that since I didn’t have a fancy car or trust-fund or that I was there to actually learn something and get a degree, I was a little bit of a loner. Having a child meant I didn’t do the “party in the dorm” scene or that I wanted to be to class on-time with work done was something worthy of being laughed at. I found it to be karma though, I remember laughing and mocking those people too. Hard work didn’t pay off too much there, but I did get my degree and I was damned proud of myself. Screw you, high school. I’ve won.
Only, I haven’t won. Even as a stay at home mom, I still have to deal with these “high school” politics. The various parents cluster together, choosing their children’s friends based on how interesting the parents seem. I stood at the bus stop waiting for my son, as a circle of the “other” neighborhood moms sat around talking and laughing. At baseball practice, you see various “clusters” of the parents. You have the bullies sitting on the bleachers. The coaches’ wives sitting together laughing and talking. You have the one parent that floats around to all the groups to try to fit in someplace. I, like in high school, stayed on my own side of the world until approached. Luckily, my son is well liked by nearly everyone on the team, so some of the mom’s gravitate to me because my child is an “ideal choice” for their child’s friend.
There’s not much I can say other than high school really does prepare you for real life. The real world has the same social politics as the ones in high school. The cliques are the same, and if you don’t fit into a mold, you’re going to end up running around in circles. Whether you work, or stay at home, you’re still stuck in this world of popularity rules all. It’s dealing with it, and realizing that you’re grown up now that’s the hard part. And trying to get by, since there’s no summer school in the real world.