Melinda and I were attending our 20th high school class reunion. Melinda and I probably attended thirteen years of school together in a graduating class of 187, so we definitely knew each other. But Melinda and I weren't friends, and what followed was likely the longest conversation we'd ever had.
As we circled around the park, her arm still looped through mine, Melinda apologized for being mean to me in high school. The funny thing is, I didn't even know. She was not a known nemesis. If she spoke ill of me or spread rumors about me, I didn't know about it. I laughed, told her not to worry about it, and began to head back to my friends.
Melinda wasn't done. She kept my arm and kept talking. She said, "I was so mean to you. I would sit in the back of class and talk about you. But you know what? I was jealous. I was jealous of all that you had."
That's when I stopped walking. She had been jealous of me? Was she kidding? In high school, I was only inching out of an awkward phase longer and more atrocious than most. I wasn't popular. I was best known for getting good grades, and what high school kid is jealous of that?
Melinda continued, "I was jealous of how pretty you were, how good you were at everything, and what a great family you had." I laughed wholeheartedly at the "pretty" comment, but I do have great parents. I suppose I'd never taken the time in high school to consider that maybe other people didn't.
I spent most of high school insecure. I wasn't completely goofy-looking anymore, but I didn't know it. I had a tight group of meaningful friends, but I thought everyone did. I had a long-term boyfriend I really cared about, but I couldn't believe he was going out with me.
|Still not all that, but I had made progress by junior year. It was the '80s after all. I loved that (not purple) sweater.|
Compared to horror stories I've heard from other women, my insecurities were insignificant. I lacked confidence. When I recall my most regrettable teenage behavior, I can see now that each instance arose from my own insecurities.
I've come a long way since then. While I don't think I'm as smart as I did then, I'm comfortable in my own skin and confident. I like who I am, and I can see why others might like me (and--let's be honest--why others might not, and that's okay too).
A lot of that has come with age, but that single conversation with Melinda gave me a new perspective on my young self. Thanks to Melinda, I was given the gift of seeing how I looked through someone else's eyes, and I looked pretty good. Even back then.
I wish that teenage me would have known how good she had it. I wish she'd had the confidence I do today. She would have been a better friend and a kinder acquaintance. With the wisdom and confidence I have now plus the time and energy I had then, just think of all I could have accomplished.
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Melinda is not her real name. If this somehow makes it to her: Thank you, "Melinda," for telling me this. Most people would not have. I am better for it, and I think very highly of you.
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To read what other bloggers had to say about "If I knew then what I know now...," please head over to my friend Karen's blog, Dogs Don't Eat Pizza. At the bottom of her post, you will find links to more posts on this subject. I think this could be a really interesting one, don't you?