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Keeping The Door Shut

Facebook never ceases to amaze me. No, I’m not talking about its distraction abilities, or wonderful applications like FarmVille. I’m talking about its connection potential. Facebook gives us a chance to reach out and connect with those we haven’t seen or heard from in years. Reconnecting can be both awesome and incredibly awkward.

This past week I received several friend requests from people with whom I went to high school. I wouldn’t consider them close friends, but I wouldn’t consider them strangers either. I had several classes with them, some reaching as far back as elementary school. I imagine that many of you are wondering what the big deal is. I’m asking myself the same question. Perhaps it stems from my mixed emotions about my high school experience.

My high school story is probably just like many of yours. I went to a large, suburban high school, was overly involved in a variety of activities and got stressed out about classes, drama, and the future. Typically, I’ve looked back at my time there as totally positive. However, this recent wave of nostalgia has given me reason to reexamine it.

Looking back, my school was simply too big. With more than 2500 students, it was really easy to get lost in the crowd. The administration did their best to combat this problem, pushing students to get involved. Being in speech, orchestra, and choir allowed me to gather strong group of friends that I still keep in touch with, helping me find my place amidst the packed hallways. Not everyone was so fortunate, my sister included. She had a much more difficult experience, her story being shared by countless others who struggled to find their way.

I liked school, and things went really well up until the last couple of months when it all seemed to fall apart. Within a span of two weeks my Dad moved out, I realized I was the only one of my friends not going to the University of Nebraska, and I was booed off the stage when I was crowned prom king. The final moment was like a scene from a movie, standing on that stage. Everything felt cartoonish, and surreal. My face was hot, my hands itched, and I kept hoping it was all just a bad dream.

Needless to say, I was counting down the days to leave. My car was packed in mid-June, and I had done my best to sever all ties with my old life as I imagined my new one.

Since my time away, I have stayed in touch with my close friends. When I come home we usually get together for lunch at Chipotle and talk about who’s in jail, who’s married, and who’s dating whom. Whenever I go home, I usually only tell the same people, without broadcasting it to others. I try and keep the strong ties alive, meaning that I’ve let looser ones wither.

As I glance at the faces sitting in my requests inbox, I can’t help but think about those vivid final moments of high school. Nobody’s high school experience is picture-perfect, and in many respects mine was a good one. I got an excellent education there, and am grateful for the good times, and I’m content to leave it at that. It would be so easy to just keep that door shut, and not let the past in. But it’s been four years. People can change. I sure have.

My wounds have healed, and I’ve moved on. I don’t care that I was made a fool of at prom. (In retrospect it’s kind of funny) It seemed like the end of the world, but I haven’t let that one moment hold me back. The things that once seemed so important have long since lost their value. I should celebrate the positive and not hold onto the petty negative things. We only live once. Why waste our effort holding onto the negative when we can instead embrace the positive? As for those who have reached out to me, I’ll reach back— see what’s there. They took a chance. I should too.

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