Disclaimer: We don’t know if we’re having a girl yet (in fact, I am of the opinion that we’re having a boy) but reading through my RSS feeds I’ve been thinking about girls and women and feminism and thinks I would want my daughter to know before wading into the world. I’m planning on writing a series of entries on things I’ve learned about being a woman and things I wish I’d known.
Lesson for my daughter 1: High school is something you survive
There aren’t very many people who remember high school fondly. Most of us have some fond memories of high school, and some really shitty ones.
Things were difficult for me in high school not because I didn’t have friends (I wasn’t popular, but I had some good, close friends) and not because I didn’t do well in school (I wasn’t the best student, but I held my own and teachers liked me) and not because I wasn’t involved (I was on the debate team for a couple of years and worked on the student newspaper). No, things were difficult for me because I didn’t fit into the Seventeen Magazine box. I didn’t know anything about clothes or make-up, I was fat, I was shy – I didn’t fit any kind of image I had about anything a teenage boy would find attractive.
My failure with boys in high school made me feel as though I would never find anyone who loved me for me, and by the time I graduated I felt like all was lost, I was never going to be anything to anyone.
When I think back to high school and take the time to remember the bad, I remember being painfully shy and embarassed about being a keener, I remember feeling fat and ugly, and I remember wanting to either drop out or die – two things I almost did at 16.
But I was lucky, I had a few friends, a great family and some passion to see me through.
When I focus on the good of high school that is what I think about. High school gave me a great bond with my best friend for life – she was the maid of honour at my wedding and the first person outside of my family I told when I got pregnant. I love her with all my heart and would do anything for her. High school gave me an appreciation for what a great teacher can bring to a child’s life – I had two that I remember fondly, both of whom managed to build my confidence up just before graduation, both of whom I would strive to impress with my future endeavours.
But the most important thing high school gave me was me. Leaving high school, feeling glad to have survived, I thought I knew where I was going, but then I had the rug pulled out from under me, and I gradually realized that no one but me was going to be able to put things back together. I grew confidence and I took things into my own hands.
Knowing myself is the greatest gift I ever got, and knowing that I was alright with just me was one of the reasons that I was finally able to find love with Joe. When I was 16 I was certain that no one would ever be able to love me for what I was, that there was nothing about me that a man would ever find attractive. High school beat me, but I’m winning now.