High school wasn’t the happiest of times. There’s no way I would want to go back to those pimply, angst ridden, arrogant years.
I thought I knew everything. I couldn’t be told I was wrong, and nobody – especially my parents – understood me.
Like all teenagers, I believed that I was the only person in the world to have been heartbroken, have acne, have a curfew and have embarrassing parents. (Well, Mum could be embarrassing, she had her own red stop sign made, which she would wave at the cars when we had to cross the busy road in front of our unit block. And she would threaten to wear her badge declaring, ‘I’m Jessica Rowe’s mother’, if we didn’t cross the road with her and that wretched red sign!)
Apart from embarrassing mothers, I do believe that being a teenager can be the pits. You believe you’re far more grown up than you really are, you’re trying to fit in with the cool group at the same time that you’re attempting to rebel against all the sensible people in your life.
Just combine that with the hormones raging through your system. I don’t think I was always a very nice person during those years, so I’m not in a hurry to go back there.
And it’s not just because I want to forget those 80s fashion shockers. My mother would frequently tell me there was no way I was going out in that boob tube and fluoro pink bubble skirt. Mum could have grounded me for crimes against fashion, but she told me I couldn’t wear my ensemble out the front door because the skirt, “is barely covering your bottom, my darling!” I just simply stashed the gear in the garbage bin and got changed huddled behind our front fence.
So recently when the invitation came for my 25 year school reunion, I deleted it. I rationalised my decision by telling myself that because I had to get up early for work the next day it would be ‘smart’ not to go out. What?!
There have been plenty of times when I’ve turned into a pumpkin, resorted to litres of Visine eye drops and extra concealer to get through a work shift because I wasn’t going to miss out on a good party. The real reason I didn’t go to the reunion? I was a chicken; a scaredy cat. It didn’t matter that 25 years had passed, just thinking about school makes me feel like that sometimes vile, insecure, and acne-covered student I had been.
It’s bizarre how I can constantly forget what day my eldest daughter has library at school, but I can remember exactly how I felt when I was the new girl in year seven. Nervous. Lonely. Afraid.
I feel ashamed recalling how in year nine, we would terrorise our Indonesian teacher, mock our music teachers because of her crossed eyes and swing on our chairs in Latin class and yell out absurd pronunciations to another frazzled teacher. I’ve still got a letter that my best friend wrote to me, explaining that her decision to smoke drugs at school was hers alone and since I wasn’t into that, we shouldn’t be friends anymore.
I can still feel my elbows resting on the wooden benches in the science labs and the despair I felt during physics lessons. I thought my dorky science teacher was speaking Latin when he explained velocity, speed, and torque… or something like that. Then and there I decided I was a failure, that I would fail the HSC and be a failure in life. Oh, the drama of being a teenage girl!
I still have those recurring exam nightmares where I believe I’m the only one who has forgotten to study. Even though I wake up from them, I don’t want to go back to that murky, scary teenager time – even for a night.
And that is why I’m happy to be a chicken and stay home.
Are you a school reunion “avoidant?” Did you go to yours?
MORE STORIES BY JESSICA ROWE
*Jessica Rowe is a broadcaster and writer who, in a career spanning 20 years, has worked at all the major Australian commercial television networks. She is has written the best selling book, Love. Wisdom. Motherhood as well as co-authoring The Best of Times, the Worst of Times with her mother Penelope Rowe. Follow Jessica on Twitter @msjrowe or visit her website at www.jessicarowe.com.au.