Lately I have been having this weird battle with nostalgia. Working with high school students, that phase of life is pretty much always sitting in the front of my consciousness. But the thing is, I never really associate their high school with my high school. Sure, I talk with them about my experiences, and there are tons of similarities, but high school isn't really real for me any more. It's like when I think about elementary school. When I think of it, I don't even really think about me. It's just some weird shadow that is only part me.
I was lucky to have a great high school experience, but I don't at all think of those years as the "peak" of my life. It's hard not to think back about a time when I had tons of friends and a social life, was really good at things and didn't have to work or stress about money. Now it's just the opposite, and after drifting so far away from the good things I had back then, I feel this weird unspoken drive to "win". To turn out better than the people I constantly wanted to be in high school, or at least equal. But usually, I only match them in words, not actions.
Guard contributes a lot to my perception of myself. Sure I make my money from teaching, and I will always love it, but I have also lived without guard in my life. It was so hard at first, but like anything else, I got used to it. Now, strangely, when I talk to or meet people who are still fully - even partially - apart of that world, I feel this strange sense of age. Even when these people are older than me, the fact that I have lived with out this thing that can't not consume your life makes me feel so, so - experienced, wise, old? - in comparison to them. It makes no sense, but it's proof that someone got my birthday wrong. I can't be just 19.
These thoughts all came to a head the other night, when the school I work for had a special performance, where all the girls did their own routine. Traditionally, the coaches preform too, but I didn't. a couple people came up to me, asking why and urging me to change my mind, but I just didn't want to. In high school, I would have been all for it. a year ago I would have been all for it. But now? Lately I've come to this weird acceptance that I am insignificant, and that everyone has their shot at that idealized, self centered high school experience that I had. I didn't do a routine, not because it would have been extra work, not because I was afraid to be embarrassed, but because I didn't need to. My time had come and gone, and it was my happy duty to step out of the way and let them have theirs. I felt this convoluted sense of contentment and happiness at this recognition. My only hope is that I can find it in everything. In my money stress, in my lack of social life, in the reluctant and willing choices I make.