The something I miss most isn’t a specific thing, or a specific person, but a situation and the feelings that came with it. Sometimes I talk about my “first attempt at college,” when I first went to McMurry University in Abilene, TX. I talk a little about the bad boys that I met there, or about the friends I made there. It was while at McMurry that I met that first really awful boy, the abusive one, but it was also while I was in Abilene that I met AJ, who gave me my most romantic (only romantic) Valentine’s Day.
I miss the person I was when I was there. I miss the freedom and self-confidence I had while I was there. I miss the innocence I had when I first got there. I miss the friends I made while there. I miss that whole part of my life!
When I first went to college, I was fearless. I was convinced that because I was at college, I could finally be who I wanted to be. I was in a new place, with no preconceived notions of who I was or what I was capable. I wasn’t just a band nerd or a theater freak or a GT (gifted and talented or honors) student. I was a new person. I could put forth any personality I wanted.
I didn’t have to hide how liberal my views were on dating and sexuality. And I didn’t have to tell anyone that I didn’t date in high school. I could pretend to know everything, and there was no one around to tell anyone otherwise. I could tell people I was a Samantha instead of a Charlotte, and no one would be the wiser.
Seeing as a boy I was particularly interested in told me he didn’t date virgins (they get too attached), I decided that being more of a Samantha was a good thing… Of course, this particular version of my reality could end up getting me into mischief. It in fact did on a time or three. It’s what put me on the radar of the boy who hurt me so bad, and caused some issues with me and AJ a time or 5. Of course, he was a bit of a Samantha himself, and damaged in ways that to even discuss might cause a libel suit, so I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
My openness about my views on everything made me quite a few friends in what many would consider subcultural or counter culture groups. Those are the friends who have stuck it out with me through the years and are still there for me even now, more than a decade later. I wasn’t afraid to talk about anything because, frankly, if you couldn’t handle my honest opinion on matters and couldn’t handle having a grown up discussion about it, then I didn’t want you in my realm of existence.
I had no room for judgmental people. Still don’t, but I’ve had to make some major changes.
When I left and transferred to a new school near Dallas (Texas A&M University-Commerce), I thought that I could still be that open person, but I was wrong.
I had spent a summer home with my family and I no longer fit there. I had gone to a rally in support of religious tolerance, and it ended up on television. My family was mortified because I am someone who stands out, which is probably why I ended up on three different channels hugging the women who were being persecuted for their pagan views by the church members who would call their home and scream “ding dong the witch is dead” before hanging up. My mother had forbidden me to go, but as I was over 21, I felt like I had a right to make my own decisions. I’m not sure how long it took her to forgive me because, since she was a teacher, she felt this put her job at risk.
When I got to my new school, I was so convinced that being away from such a conservative area, I’d be able to go back to my openly tolerant, fearless self. The first time I said something about some pagan friends of mine to a student I was in theater with, she crossed herself, Catholic style, and told me I should probably keep those kinds of things to myself.
That happened more than once, about a variety of topics.
So I learned to push all that stuff away. I went back to what I had done in high school, which was adjust who I was based on who I was around. Even now I do this. One of the women I work with now is convinced that I am very devout Catholic. I never said anything to this effect, but somehow in our conversation I agreed, or seemed to agree, with something she said in just the right way to make her say, “as a Catholic, you understand.”
I told her I wasn’t Catholic, but I was very strong in my faith. I’m not sure she’s convinced…
I miss being able to just be myself, but now, since I’m the teacher now, I have to watch what I do or say because the wrong thing might just put my job at risk. It makes me feel like a hypocrite. I’m real with my students, and they can tell. They comment on it. They like that I tell them straight up that the test we have to prepare them for is crap, but they have to take it to graduate, so we’ll do what we have to in order to achieve that goal, and then after the test, I’ll teach them the stuff they actually need to know.
And they can tell that I am not myself around the other teachers. When other teachers come in, I tense up. One kid actually said to me, as another teacher left the room, “ok, get back to yourself, Miss.”
I try to surround myself with people, outside of work, whom I can be myself around. Sometimes it works, but it’s very rare to find someone who can accept all of me at once, so what happens is I have compartmentalized groups of people. The book club girls get to see a very specific side of me, and the one or two of them that can handle the other sides of me, I stay in contact with, but the rest I only see when we do things as a group. Same with my geek group.
The problem is then that when I meet a guy, I need him to be able to deal with all sides of myself. So, if I see potential, I want to do multiple things with them, to see if they can handle all of me. I want them to know me, ALL of me.
So far, none of them have made it more than a few weeks. It’s too much all at once, it seems. The Boy made it the longest, and we’re still talking, so even though I know we’re not dating, he might be one of the few real friends I’ve made since I left Abilene.
There have been others, and you know who you are, so I hope no one gets offended by this post, but I do feel like many of the people I interact with only get to see a small part of me, and because it’s not all of me, it feels very much like I’m acting a part instead of being myself.
It depresses me how much of myself I hide.
So, that freedom to be myself and not care what anyone thinks because I don’t have to hide, that is what I miss most.