I Regret To Inform You All That I Miss High School
Posted on December 16, 2020 Posted by Athena Scalzi 87 Comments
There, I said it. I’m not happy about it, but it’s the truth. I miss high school.
When I was in high school, I hated it. Not just a normal amount, the way every teen does, but like, extra hated it. I resented the idea (and still kind of do) that kids are legally required to go to school every single day for thirteen years of their life (except summer and weekends). Like, that’s a lot of time. For something that at the time seemed so purposeless and not helpful to actually living life.
I despised school not just at the individual level, but at the institutional level. I feel that at its core, school is a beneficial thing, however I also believe that it is a deeply flawed system. Not just in academic ways, but in disciplinary ways, as well (that’s a post for another time).
Throughout high school, I couldn’t wait to be done. I wanted to be done so badly that I went to community college my senior year of high school so I could leave school a semester early. I told myself I would never, ever miss high school, and that anyone who missed high school was deluded.
Well, joke’s on me, because I started missing it about two years ago. And I graduated in 2017! So it didn’t take me long for me to wish I could go back.
I’ve been trying to figure out what it is I miss. Is it my friends? Is it the days where teachers brought in Oreo Balls and let us play Jeopardy? Is it playing kickball and your crush telling you “nice catch”? Is it the super gross chocolate milk cartons? Or is it that feeling of having your whole life ahead of you, the future being some bright, intangible thing you look forward to seeing? Is it less about high school and more about me missing my youth and carefree days where my biggest problem was figuring out the answer to number thirteen on the math homework? Do I miss the time before my mental health was garbo and I had who I thought was the love of my life by my side through it all? I think it’s a combination of many things, and many people.
I didn’t expect I’d miss my teachers so much, either. Sometimes I wish I could just walk into the school and go say hi to them all. But some of them aren’t even there anymore. I miss having teachers that cared about me, or at least knew my name. In a lecture hall of over a hundred people, you feel so insignificant. For me, the more I care about a teacher, or feel like they value me as part of their class, the more likely I am to try, to do the work and put in effort. I miss having a teacher who believed in me.
Going to school made me get up at seven every day, which at the time I hated more than anything in the world. But now I can’t bring myself to get out of bed until around 1 or 2 in the afternoon. It may have been annoying, but school did keep me on some kind of “good” schedule. It gave me a reason to get up, get dressed, do something, anything with my day. And I miss having that regularity. That structure that I cannot enforce upon myself no matter how hard I try.
When I was sixteen, I was pretty much the only one in my friend group to have a license. I drove us all around; to Walmart, Waffle House, the movies, the mall, pretty much anywhere teens could go that didn’t cost a lot of money. I felt like I was needed, like my role in the friend group was important. I don’t have anything like that anymore. I think I miss feeling essential amongst my peers.
I miss feeling like I was special in other ways, too. In elementary school, I was one of four kids in my grade in the advanced studies group. I always nailed standardized testing, and my reading level was off the hook. In high school, I wasn’t that same level of super smart kid, things were actually hard now. Like geometry. Fuck geometry.
Despite not being as smart anymore, I was still thought of as such. It’s just what I had been known as my whole life up to that point, so people still thought I was. I was still absolutely crushing standardized testing — I got the highest ACT score in my class — but suddenly I didn’t understand things anymore. I had to drop a class for the first time in my life because I could not grasp chemistry and I was failing. My reading comprehension diminished as soon as I started reading 1984. I felt stupid for the first time in my life, but at least everyone still thought I was the smart kid.
Now, after being in the real world and having been at Miami, I’m left with an inferiority complex on top of my gifted kid complex. And I miss the days when I didn’t have these feelings. I miss school because it made me feel good enough. Now I feel like I’m not.
I also miss high school because parties were exciting, and fun, and in college, they’re just boring. In high school, I knew who I was around, and in college, everyone was strangers. In high school, people’s parents would order some pizzas for the party or something. In college, you’d be lucky to be offered anything other than a bucket of Jungle Juice. I know that’s kind of a silly thing to miss, but parties in high school were really more just like hangouts and bonfires. In college they’re loud house parties where someone ends up at McCollough Hyde Hospital from getting alcohol poisoning at Brick.
I don’t know where I’m going with this. Really I’m just lamenting over a time in my life that’s gone forever and I wish I could have it back. I have a hard time letting go of things, and that includes the past. I also have a hard time accepting that there are certain things in my life I will never get back, things I can never do again, things that are just permanently in my memories and they’ll just have to stay there. It just makes me sad.
Do you miss high school? Tell me why (or why not) in the comments. And as always, have a great day.
Do I miss high school? Nope. I did not enjoy high school, and in the 30+ years since I graduated, I have never — not once — wished that I was back there.
If you are attending Big State U, you are absolutely not on their radar. Their reward structure and career advancement depends on external funding and published research, neither of which, as an undergraduate, you are positioned to help them with.
It can still be worth going there if you plan for your terminal degree to be something like a BS in electrical engineering just because of the network you’ll form. But for any other reason, it isn’t. I speak as someone who spent 12 years at various Big State U’s to get my PhD.
The best professors I ever had were those who went to a smaller liberal arts college for a BS and then went to BSU to apprentice themselves and learn how to do research. In retrospect, that is the right way to do it if you are headed toward a higher degree. That means at every step of the process, you are working with faculty who are genuinely interested in your success, academically when you need to get enough knowledge of a field to speak intelligently, and research . . . ly when you are ready to learn that.
Also, Oreo balls?
I don’t miss it, but I can see why you do. But I had a better college experience overall than I did high school, which probably helped with that. I wasn’t in a comfortable weirdo-accepting environment in high school, whereas college was fine with that. I think it’s legitimate to miss an easier time of your life when you had less stuff to worry about (see “I Wish I Could Go Back To College” from Avenue Q–different school, same idea). If you miss someone you used to be with, ’nuff said there–a lot of my sentimental stuff from college was with an ex back in the day.
A lot of people do end up feeling dumber in college. (Not me, mind you, but I had easy artsy majors.) That’s a pretty common experience from what I hear. Going from big fish in small pond to bigger pond, bigger classes, less individual attention, etc. and having to figure out being alone on your own is kind of adult training wheels time.
Anyway, thanks for being so open and honest about your issues. I like when people do that :)
I loved the last two years. I went to a boarding high school for nerds (I told your daddy about it at a signing with two of my hs friends and he told a story about his boarding school time). There I met my 600 best friends. And a huge inferiority complex, but still worth it for the friends.
This is pretty good, a lot of stuff in there that I haven’t thought about for probably 30+ years. I didn’t hate high school — my last two years were at a not super-cliquey school where I had some decent friends, but I wasn’t really one of the super popular kids (and I also did that acing all the standardized tests etc. thing that let me down when I got to university). I wouldn’t want to go back though.
I don’t miss high school, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. I have, on occasion, missed my friends from high school, but I made a great set of friends in college as well and miss them too.
I have thoughts about different ways to structure school, but the notion that we should educate our society and do our best to open up the vast possibilities of life for them? That really is the silver bullet to improving, well, everything.
I’m very sorry you’re missing it! I really hope the pandemic stops soon so you can go find community that makes you inspired and delighted.
As for me, no, I don’t and have never missed high school. It was a horror show of evil bullies, cowardly friends and my own mental health breakdown. Bad enough that they don’t invite me to reunions despite my parents living in the same place at the same address since I left. I’m not upset about that, since I wouldn’t go anyway, but given the “everyone’s invited no matter how awful” trope that exists out there, I find that that’s usually what hammers it home to people.
Therefore, while I’m sorry you’re missing it, I am also glad you are, because you had peop le who cared for you and who you liked, and who it sounds like you’d be happy to see again. I wish that love and support for you in all your communities moving forward.
Oh man. High school was rough for me. I hated it less than middle school, but that’s not saying much. When I got to college, I was ecstatic. Leaving college, I missed it something fierce, especially seeing my friends and living the dorm life.
What the post did make me think of was being unemployed. I always had A Job – first my Job was going to school and getting good grades. When I finally left academia with an MA, I was already freelancing on multiple fronts and for a while had SIX Jobs. Going from that to one job was great but weird, and the first time I got laid off I was really thrown. I didn’t know how to have a day without the external structure of A Job. Now that I’ve been unemployed a few times, I have a structure to step into until I find a new gig.
Change and uncertainty are hard on the brain, which is part of why 2020 has been so rough. Even a hated structure is still structure, and losing that can be hard if you don’t have a new structure to step into.
Yes. I was happy in high school beyond some wish-my-crush-liked-me stuff. I was involved in multiple music groups which for various reasons don’t do now (not good enough for the secular groups, not interested in the non-secular activities), good friends. I was in a relatively small hs for an urban environment–about 900 or so. Graduating class was <200 so you knew most of the class and there didn’t seem to be too many cliques. Do I miss it? Eh, rather be in college–more choice of classes, schedule is looser.
I also liked college. I went to a small private (SLAC) university where I fell into a close-knit, bright, some musical/liberal arts, some STEM people group. We still get together at reunions and occasionally other times (ahem, 32 years later). That university had something else that I wanted–a good teacher/student ratio and support for study abroad. Even in the first years, classes were maybe 30 except for a team-taught honors class that still had small break-out groups of 15-20. The professors got to know you, and you got to know them. The department I was in let me choose which version of the requirements I wanted to follow (ha-ha, no chemistry for me!) and when I was discussing my junior year abroad and trying to figure out what I should take, told me to take about a half-load in my major subject and that we’d figure it out when I got back.
I had decided between that university and a ginormous university in Ohio, where I’d grown up and had a parent professor and the other parent and 2 grandparents had all attended or worked there. I didn’t want to deal with the huge weeder classes or live at home.
Miss High school? Not me. School was booooorrrrring. So boring I dropped out after freshman year because I was too bored to go anymore (in Arizona that was legal at the time). Mind you, I got straight A’s and aced the tests also, but was supremely unengaged.
My parents let me bum around for one year and then put their foot down. I was going back to school, dammit! I devised a plan!
I took the hardest classes I could sign up for, and started WORKING for my grades. In part of junior and all of senior years that meant college level classes. The result: I went from being a bored A student to being a happily tired C or even D student. But, it sure wasn’t boring anymore!
As for friends, I was that loner geek that hung out in the library in the corner that even the bullies were hesitant to deal with. So, I only remember one guy from high school and we don’t keep in touch.
Miss it? No. Learned what it took to make it more interesting? Yes.
It sounds like you might be much happier at a smaller college. I went to a small but great women’s college, where the average class size was about a dozen, we often wore our PJs to early classes, and there was lots of individual staff and faculty support. Also, milk and cookies every night at 9pm in the dorm dining room, where we would have study groups, so that became something to look forward to when you were feeling frustrated about calculus. I went to Mount Holyoke, 3000 miles from home, and that was hard, but the college community was awesome. There’s small colleges all over the US, look into transferring, maybe?
I can completely sympathize with the experiences you are having. Because I had a similar “man, on the whole I think I enjoyed high school more than college” experience. The class structure is definitely the biggest; I found that the classes I least enjoyed were the large lectures whereas the ones taught by a grad student in a 20 student room were some of the most enjoyable. And college was the point where I reached my “you can no longer coast through” point; I responded by learning how the curve works and playing a lot of WoW (which came out shortly after I started). I did not graduate with high marks, but I did graduate. And fortunately after you get that first job no one cares about your college transcript anymore.
The regularity of a schedule can be brought back; just like college students try to engineer their schedule to always wake up in the afternoon you can engineer it to be something closer to what you had in high school. And it will certainly serve well to be on a schedule like that if you get a traditional 9-5 job after graduation. At this point in my life I can’t even sleep in on the weekends because I’m so used to my routine.
Nope, not a bit.
After a lot of moving around, we settled in a very insular, small southern town. Damnyankees (Northerners moving to a southern town, it was a single word) were suspect; we were not religious, so that was very suspect; I was nerdy, and we all know the stereotypes there.
Made a couple of friends eventually, but was mostly the outcast who didn’t give a shit. I left for college and, aside from above-mentioned pair of pals (who also left, and we’re still in contact), have almost no interest in those people. I had some yearbooks, but they vanished in some move or another, and now I don’t even have names for most of those faces, and the faces are all 30 years older, anyway. My mother left there about 15 years ago, and I seriously doubt I’ll ever even visit the state again.
So no, I don’t even think about high school much, let alone miss it. At this remove, it feels a bit like I imagine having been in jail a long time ago does – some crappy, useless thing that happened to you but feels like someone else’s life.
Yes and No. The first half of High School was a big adjustment for me for some reason. The last two years were pretty nice. At the same time, I think about everything I’ve done since and how dependent I was on people and how little I had then that was really my own and I would never want to go back to that. I still think about some of the people I knew then and how cool and interesting most of them turned out to be and that makes me miss them, but also feel kind of happy.
Yay Mt Holyoke! I almost went there! Went to another small femme-dominant liberal college instead.
College gets better as you drop into the specialized classes because you’ll find all the people in your major you can talk to, but the cattle-call general education classes I do not miss. Also, as a former gifted kid who underachieved spectacularly for ten years after college, your complex is absolutely more common than you think.
Oh, I hated high school. I enjoyed being friends with my few nerdy friends and doing the homework during class and being bored for the most part, but school itself was so horrible that once I got out I never went back. I feel kind of the same as you do about structure in life and having trouble getting started; that’s still a big problem all these years later, and that’s even with working with people to try to handle what turns out to be officially ADHD. That’s a diagnosis I never expected to get at 60! Better than cancer, though. As for realizing that you’re not as smart in the world as your were in high school, that can be a big shock – I almost flunked out of college, even though the first semester was pass/no credit. In my defense, I didn’t hand in any homework because what’s 15% of the grade anyway? I am not a mathematician. Luckily, my wonderful wife is. Anyway, if I can offer a small lesson, it’s that you can screw up regularly for almost all your adult life, and still manage to make out OK if you don’t quit. I think the most important skill we can have is the ability to retrieve disaster. If you can pull something useful out of the fire, or manage to handle the disaster so that nobody even knows that a disaster happened, you can go far without particular talent or skill. I’m proof of that!
The part about college professors not knowing your name, etc… it’s definitely true that in high school the more personalized experience is pretty well baked in, while in college it really varies both by institution and how much effort you put in.
I was always on very good terms with my teachers in high school, enough that I still keep in touch with some of them and go back to visit on occasion. And when I attended Marquette for undergrad–a Jesuit University–I managed to continue that trend quite successfully. I made it a point to drop in on profs during their office hours a lot. There was a single building that housed most of the offices for the English, Philosophy, Theology, and History departments… I would just wander in before, between, or after classes and see who was there. The secret is that most profs will happily talk to an amiable student for a while, they’re usually as starved for social connection (or more) than their students are. Often I didn’t even try to talk about class topics, just did some small talk. I wasn’t looking for help on my grades necessarily, it was just a fun way to stay engaged. But I think the fact that most profs knew my name probably didn’t hurt anyway grade-wise, either.
Of course, for the immediate future COVID has made just wandering into office hours not a real possibility anymore. Boy it’ll be nice when casually dropping in on someone physically is something that we can do again.
And then there’s the fact that I’ve attended two other institutions as a graduate student, and both of them made it significantly harder to get to know the professors. At the University of Chicago, staff offices were a goodly distance away from where I lived, and fewer of them frequently held office hours anyway. And at Claremont School of Theology, even though I lived on campus, the profs seemed like they were almost never around if they weren’t teaching a class. So it really does just depend on the school to some degree.
But overall I think I preferred college. It was more laid back and there wasn’t all the disciplinary bullshit of high school. People treated you like an adult and expected you to act like one. That helped the experience a lot.
Also, I’ve definitely had your experience of being considered the smart kid and then running into stuff I didn’t do well with at all. That happened to me in an AP Biology class in high school, and again in some math classes in college. Big fish, small pond, etc. But hey, we can’t all be good at everything…
I waited a long time to be done with high school. It wasn’t awful, but it was very slow. I liked going to class, but didn’t really make any friends. Much happier at college, where I still liked going to class and there were people I wanted to hang out with everywhere.
I don’t think anyone should feel obligated to like or dislike any stage of their life. It could have been the other way around for me as well if things had worked out otherwise. Personalities differ, experiences differ, values differ.
I also struggle with good things existing only in my memory. But I try to reassure myself thus: I got to go through them, which is better than the alternative; and odds are there are still many wonderful things ahead. Long term friendships, in particular, build on good things of the past and sometimes turn into “remember when…?” sessions that are almost as good as getting to relive things.
I feel very fortunate that I managed to find myself in a really great group of friends at high school. I’d just come from a private boy’s school, so academically it was a breeze, and as an added bonus, I could take a computer programming course – so cool. I loved all of the academic stuff, and there were parties just about every weekend. Of course, I was still a super nerdy, introverted kid, but I had it pretty good.
That was the mid-70’s, and I’m still in touch with some of these folks; that’s pretty cool too.
Since I moved to a new state just in time to start High School, no I do not miss it. I never got to find my tribe.
College was different. Part of that was that I found my tribe. We all lived in the same two dorms, all active on the same BBS, and all sort of just grokked each other. College is what I missed.
I don’t think I’ve ever missed high school, or college for that matter. I occasionally miss the good parts of my first job after college, but there was so much bad that I’d never regret leaving it.
Maybe I’m lucky in a way that every big transition has been away from something I was thoroughly longing to be done with, but mostly it felt like it took way too long to get to each of those transitions.
My advice: try not to miss the past so much that you miss the present too – there may be opportunities now that you’re not seeing, that would fill some of the gaps that you’re feeling. Good luck!!!
Hm. College beat high school, but getting out into the world beat college. I think I found myself craving options. Like you say, high school is minimum security prison. You have more options in college, but (as long as you commit to being there) it’s still confined to classes, maybe intern/externships if you get ambitious. But in the two years after I left I applied for and performed some crazy jobs (sailboats, wildfires, ambulances) that taught me and showed me more than high school or college ever did. Seven (oof) years later I’m chipping away at a career, the basis of which I formed in that post-college period. Ironically, it has me back in college, working on a nominally lesser degree than my bachelor’s.
Do I miss it? High school, not really. I mostly checked out of the subject matter excepting a few formative teachers and made some great friends who are still great friends. College felt like a warm bed in the morning. Feels great, comfortable as hell, and could easily stay there way longer than I probably should. But I only started feeling fulfilled after I got up and out.
I was a nerd in a tiny farm town. No, i dont miss it.
Overall, I don’t miss high school and would not go back to it if I had the option. However, there are a few things about it that I do miss. Like you, I was one of the smartest kids all through elementary and high school, but not in college — I had decent grades in college, but I wasn’t a straight-A student like I always had been before. In high school I had a close group of four friends that I did almost everything with; I’ve never had a group of friends like that since, and I miss it. (I’m still Facebook friends with them, but we grew apart once we graduated and went our separate ways, and no longer really have anything in common aside from old memories.)
But on the whole, I like being an adult. I like my freedom, having disposable income, a place of my own that I can decorate whoever I please, not having to do homework or study, and not being forced to spend my days among people who look down on me for my looks or what I wear — not that adults like that don’t exist, but I don’t have to associate with them if I choose not to. If you’re still in college, you haven’t quite gotten there yet, but in college I did enjoy being among people who genuinely wanted to be there, rather than being there because they had to. In high school, no one ever asked me out — I wasn’t conventionally attractive, and for the most part I was invisible. (When I saw the first-season Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Out of Mind, Out of Sight” years later, I completely identified with the invisible girl, except for the homicidal rage part. I figured being invisible was better than being bullied.) In college and afterward, I was rarely without a boyfriend, and I’ve now been married more than 20 years.
I’ll be curious to know if you still miss high school once you’re out of college and on your own. I hope you’ll update in a few years with how adult life compares.
Going from a high school class of 100+ students to college freshman physics in a lecture hall that could fit my whole high school was a shock. I felt completely lost and was complaining about it to a friend who said “You want to take this class I’m in – only 5 students!” I did and it made a world of difference. After a horrible second semester of all lecture courses, I’d learned my lesson. Every semester I needed to have at least one “fun” course. For me, it was music classes. For you, it might be something else. But having a course every semester where the professor knew me and the homework was a break from everything else was what kept me going.
I also had the experience of not feeling smart Freshman year (I went to an engineering school and quickly learned that I wasn’t going to be an engineer). Eventually, I learned that I was smart in different ways than most of my classmates, including some valuable ways (good at writing and enjoyed it, and things like that), and that really helped. As the parent of a kid with ADHD, I realized that I have ADHD/Inattentive and that explained a LOT of my school experience. I needed classes where I wouldn’t be lost if I spaced out occasionally, that didn’t require memorization, and that had a lot of discussion. I wonder if your narcolepsy might have similar effects for you in some ways?
I’m really sorry college hasn’t been a good experience for you. I hope you eventually find something that’s a good fit – whether a smaller college or a job with people you enjoy being around or whatever.
I don’t miss my high school. It was the kind of high school where about 5% of the graduates went on to any kind of college, including community or vocational. A couple died every year doing something stupid. The year before me it was not quite jumping onto a moving train. My year it was a mistake while siphoning gas. My classmates were, quite literally, hopeless. Sob sob sob.
But I do look at my daughter’s high-school experience and feel a bit envious. She has teachers who (a) know how to teach and (b) care about their students. She has a whole bunch of good friends, some of whom she has known since pre-school, and many of whom are her karate as well as school classmates. If anything, she has become closer to them when their interaction is all online.
She’s blooming in a way I never did until the second time I dropped out of college … and that’s kind of an important point. People flourish at different times in their lives, not necessarily even just one. For some people, high school really is their peak. For others, it might seem so but ultimately turn out not to be. Few people’s lives follow a simple trajectory. There are ups and downs, twists and turns, and somehow it always seems to come back to people. Even though I’m a confirmed introvert and borderline misanthrope, the good times in my life seem suspiciously correlated with being around good people. The bad times … well, let’s be kind and just say the principle’s the same. ;) Something to think about. Good luck.
I don’t miss HS as such, but I do miss my teachers and some of the people. I went to a fairly normal HS, but an unusual stream, so the group I was in was on the whole fairly nerdy, artsy, and from a wide variety of backgrounds. The teachers were good, and I learned a lot of skills, if not knowledge, that has stood me in good stead. My best memory is either the good times with my first g/f or hanging out with the head teacher for our stream for the final year’s national holiday celebration – her daughter was in my class. But then again I don’t want to go back to being as goddamn socially clueless and oblivious as I was then – the stupid shit I said and did… blergh.
Regarding Corona and crawling out of bed late. That sounds tempting but one of those things that can get problematic. I personally have found two things that work to alleviate that, 1) Having kids who need stuff in the morning (not recommended – this is the worst on Sunday mornings) 2) Working out as heavily as you can in the afternoon/evening. Recently I’ve been lifting with my oldest daughter, who has some issues of her own, in the garage and it really seems to be helping her. Maybe you could get your dad to spot you…
I think I concur that a small college sounds like a better fit for you. I did consider going to Mills College–I think it would have been a very different and amazing experience–but at the time it was too close to home, and it’s kind of a little island of a place and felt isolated (for good reason, it’s in Oakland) and the “no boys” thing was an issue for me (sigh, I’m shallow, but there it is). But maybe an unusual/niche/not typical college experience might be worth looking into for you in another year or two if/when the nightmare ends.
This was an awesome post. It made me think of things I have not considered in a long long time. High school graduation for me was 30 years or so ago. So if I may offer this old mans sage advice LOL who ever thought those words would come out of my mouth.
I believe I missed High School for all of a small bit about your age. It was also my first time away from home, in large auditoriums instead of a classroom of people I knew. But it passed quickly as I eventually made new friends, found new purposes, and finally discovered what I wanted to do and had some sort of direction for my life. This would have been my 3rd to 4th year of college out of 7. I actually had to take one of my major courses a second time because I failed it the first time. Zoology. The real direction my life took was not even the course I thought it was when I left college. I got lucky and fell into a job I love. Dumb Luck and Timing. And now looking back I would never go back to high school…College on the other hand maybe…I know I would be a much better student now. The only advice I can give you is that better days are ahead….Find something you love to do don’t worry about the money….and don’t worry if that something changes over time. We are human beings full of liquid and fluid… not made of stone.
COVID has certainly changed the landscape of school. I know I would have been a terrible student learning from home, cause school and work gave me the structure I needed to succeed. Good Luck
You will find your balance soon enough. We all do.
Great post. Hits on a few levels for me – for myself, and wondering how my offspring (22 yo and 18yo) are doing with it. First the parental unit in me has to say: you got this. (Occasionally my oldest would call me from college so I could say that to them. So you probably know this, but let your people reassure you it’s true: you got this.)
Myself – in retrospect, yeah, I miss some of high school. As a parental who’s recently toured colleges with offspring, I really want to do college again. It’s not exactly like missing college, but it’s similar. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered a level of curiosity and not-giving-an-eff about others opinions (on my ability or interests) that would make it much cooler now. I think the same could be said of high school: I’d try more things, obsess less, etc. But that’s partly the beauty of hindsight (for both college and high school), to a degree – easy not to obsess if I know it’s going to turn out okay.
My oldest was that person who got up early in HS and now can sleep to all hours. That added to COVID remote learning and drama (roommate with covid; month-long quarantine; etc) has been a drag. They’ve had a hard time adjusting, I’d say, to the less structure and to the remote / isolated times. Better living through chemistry and therapy and grit (of the lets try this, then the next thing if that doesn’t work) are helping but it’s still an ongoing adjustment. I’m wicked proud of them pushing through and all they’ve accomplished. I need to tell them that again.
My youngest just finished their first semester of college. Had similar mostly-remote learning classes as did oldest. But I think their college experience this year was easier than the oldest one’s, because youngest didn’t experience different. That is: they didn’t miss the gatherings or the clubs or the in person experiences, because they didn’t experience those sorts of non-Covid college times last year. I’m looking forward to them being able to experience more of college.
I hope your college experience improves as you become closer with friends there, branch out into more niche / you-specific activities and higher level classes. I suspect it will. But the first year or two can be a drag, for sure. (See: you got this, above. Ask a trusted adult to remind you that it’s true.)
I have never, ever missed high school in the 45 years since I graduated. I hated – HATED – my time there.
Now, for context, my late father had a huge need to accrue bragging rights by being able to talk about his offspring attending a private school for the gifted. In no way on this earth did I belong in such a place – but by golly, he wanted to brag about his kid attending that kind of school, so he moved heaven and earth, took out a second mortgage on the house, and that’s where I went for ten years (first through sixth grades, then ninth through twelfth).
There were around 250 students total from pre-K through twelfth grade in the school, and every single one of them was from Very Very Very Old Money Wealthy Folks — except me. Graduates were expected to attend prestigious private colleges and there was quite a competition to see which graduating senior had the most college acceptances listed off during graduation ceremonies. When I was in about tenth grade, there was a mandatory all-student assembly to bewail the fact that one ungrateful young man had the audacity NOT to attend college straight out of high school, and to exhort the rest of us to abjure his dreadful example.
The place expected teenagers to be entirely self-motivated so there were no penalties for skipping class. You want to spend all four years of your high school career reading novels in the library? Sure, fine, not a problem, we’ll HAPPILY bill your parents for thousands in tuition while you get absolutely zero education! And when you head off to college without having passed even pre-algebra, we’ll laugh all the way to the bank!
As a mark of how much esteem that place had for the fat, awkward, dumb, middle-class kid, after attending that school for ten years and being part of a graduating class of fewer than 40 seniors, they freaking mis-spelled my name on my diploma.
I shook the dust of that place off my feet and never went back. A few years later, they sent me one of those “Dear Alumna, tell us what great things you are doing so we can use your accomplishments in our marketing material” letters, and I sent it back with a two-word response containing a word that started with F and rhymes with truck. Never heard from them again. Never want to, either.
Nope, don’t miss that place, don’t miss any of the students, don’t miss any of the teachers. College was great, and I loved it so much that I refused to go home (70 miles away) even once during my first semester. And frankly, one of the biggest things I loved about college is that my father wasn’t there pushing me to do things that he wanted to brag about.
Athena, I am sorry that college hasn’t been as good a fit for you as you had hoped. Like other commenters here, I do wonder if you might find yourself happier in a smaller liberal arts college rather than in a huge university. Or you might find yourself deciding to take a gap decade. Or two. I loved university but had no idea what I was going to do, so I stopped attending when I was 20, and didn’t start again until I was in my 40s, at which point I chose a small college rather than a huge factory-style university. I was a whole lot better disciplined at that age, and by that point I knew exactly what I wanted to do with a degree, so I was very successful at it. So successful, in fact, that I wound up graduating at age 48 with a straight 4.0 GPA.
Too bad my father wasn’t around to brag about that.
An interesting observation: in reading your article and skimming through the 26 comments currently present, I found not a single mention of sports. Now my high school years were probably closer to the Stone Age than anyone else here — class of 1963 — but a lot of my memories involve sweating. I did football (defensive guard, offensive tackle), wrestling (heavyweight), and track (shotput) every year, managed to squeak out a fourth letter in volleyball senior year. That all took up a lot of my time!
My school was in a Philadelphia suburb, had about 300 kids in my class (and 650 in the next class; that’s a Boom, baby). I was about half jock and half math/science geek, dated a few cheerleaders but mostly theater and band types. We had very good teachers, possibly due to having a good teachers’ college in town (now West Chester University), so the academics were less boring than they might have been.
Also student body president and all the other little checkmarks necessary to get into a good college, Brown. I had to fight with the physics department to continue with the wrestling; they hadn’t had a physics major who also did a demanding sport for a decade. Turned out they were right; I couldn’t do both, but it was physics that was the problem. Fortunately a new guy was hired my junior year who started teaching something called “Computer Science;” he’d just gotten one of the first two CS PhDs granted in this country. Eighteen months later I had an academic appointment and was lecturing in his courses and teaching one of my own.
My memories of high school are perhaps a bit sharper because I did the web site for our 50th reunion (wchs63.com). I was aghast at how many of my classmates were too computer illiterate to manage a password.
I was born in 1960, so keep that in mind. I vey much liked some people and teachers in high school and they remain important to me. Mostly, I think high school is a waste for bright kids – it’s a place to warehouse teenagers. I’m all for some current policies that put juniors and seniors in junior college instead.
Regarding college, I went to a large state school with classes in the hundreds, or smaller classes taught by graduate students, and I did not like that. After the Army I went to a smaller college with much smaller classes to get, and receive, an EE degree, and liked the place and the professors.
I wouldn’t give up on college. You seem bright. I would suggest a college with smaller classes.
And honestly, forget about high school. It’s done. You have a long life ahead of you. Filled with excellent moments and massive f*ck ups! That’s the way it goes…
High school got better for me towards the end – I was in advanced classes for the most part, and the people who made my life a living hell in middle school / early HS weren’t good enough to be there with me. But high school was still crazy stressful (and having undiagnosed ADHD didn’t help), so overall I don’t miss it. Except for all the art classes I got to take, I miss those. I had either seven or eight different ones my senior year; I took very little that year that wasn’t art.
Then I went to engineering school. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
I never missed high school, even though my experience (at an all girls Catholic HS in the early 80s run by social justice oriented nuns) was very good. I was just ready to be done. Then I also went to Miami in Oxford, OH and felt really lost until I found the Western Program. Not sure if it still exists but I would recommend seeing if you can take a class there or just check out that area of campus socially. Maybe you already have?
I did have to struggle a bit in college because I was so good at high school I never learned how to study. That was tough.
Anyway, I had a great time in the Western College Program, learned a lot and met some awesome people.
My, lots of comments, as always, because you pick good topics.
I enjoyed the one year of senior high I did. Our two feeder junior highs had a high crime and a 50 percent drop out rate (the economy was better then) so senior high where we felt safe at last, and could have school spirit, was wonderful. It’s all relative.
Athena, I heard a high school graduation speech where the teacher, who later went on to be principal, said, “Remember how you started this big school, felt alone, and you didn’t like it? And then you joined a club and suddenly it was all right.” It’s the same in the “real world” when you get a job in another town. The trick is to join something, look in to the local history, and do whatever it takes to feel membership in your new town. Otherwise, the town is a glorified bedroom.
Clubs make it easier to have those colleges ‘meaning of life” talks.
At college one of the most active clubs to join is those crazy cats at the student newspaper, who have a reason to go all over campus. At mine, because “nobody grew up LGBT” the club for them had the most educational activities and guest speakers, on a weekly basis.
Myself, I would have a “beat,” not as as reporter, but as a student to ask folks my question of the day, often to answer another student’s question. “I’ll ask around and get back to you” I’d say.
At one level I like college, but at another level I hated it. Hence I was in a good mood for weeks after graduation, even though I didn’t have a job. It’s all relative.
I’ll admit I don’t miss high school at all. But even 29 years later, I still literally have happy dreams about returning to college at UofC. Except they’re dreams, so it turns out that the hallways of Burton-Judson end in portals to other dimensions, or there are giant caverns underneath that need exploring, or I’m a secret government agent who keeps having to go on off-campus missions, and I end up missing all my actual classes. But then I remember I already have a degree so it doesn’t matter if I fail everything and I can just pay for another semester and keep having fun.
Besides participating on campus, I was able to participate in those huge large sloping lecture classes, provided they were the type where participation was allowed.
Part of the trick is to “think before you speak,” don’t be oblivious to how your question/comment fits in, and “set your intention.” My intent was to help the professor with his class, and to help my classmates.
When I needed help once, because I would be away working, I went to the prof in his office and he gave me tips and shortcuts because he knew I was a keener, who showed up all the time. … I guess a prof may not remember your words, but he will remember how you made him feel, to quote writer Angela M.
(Note: I am writing this second comment to see if this time your comment field will accept my URL)
Parties, yeah… Here the system is a bit different, but in the upper secondary (mostly like your high school) parties were mostly fun, but there were also boring big parties. In the University, I went to the common parties for the first semester and stopped going after that as it was mostly the same people getting drunk, telling the same jokes, singing the same songs, and the same clumsy pick-up attempts.
After I found out a nice hobby club in an another university nearby (there’s a lot of interaction between different universities here both officially and unofficially). That was more of a large group of friends and the parties, both club parties and private parties were much more to my liking.
Otherwise, I don’t miss the upper secondary that much. It taught me a lot, but I could’ve been a more attentive student, especially with foreign languages, and while I had good friends there, most of them have drifted away during the 25 years after that.
I emphatically do not miss high school.
I do miss college; my experiences were wildly different from yours. I had left high school basically friendless – the friends I had did not go to the same school, and I moved to a different city to attend college. I went into it with the firm resolution to make new friends, so I signed up for all kinds of things that would help with that: attended parties, joined a writing club, founded a drama club by hanging flyers all over college asking people to join, formed study groups… Not all of that lasted, and I definitely did not get enough sleep that first semester, but I did find friends, some of whom are still central in my life.
I also enjoyed the learning environment way more. Yes, the teachers don’t learn everybody’s name anymore, none of them consider teaching their main job (and some treat it as not a part of their job, but as an unfortunate appendix to the research they actually want to do), and if you never learned how to organize your own time, you can get lost easily. But I guess this kind of sink-or-swim, self-managing, explorative style of living and learning suits me – or at least suited; today I’m amazed at how much energy I had at the time!
I actually miss college so much that I’m seriously considering going back to university and getting a master’s degree at some point… Another definite advantage of college over high school: You can actually go back and relive that time ;-) It won’t be the same, but you can have a lot of the same experiences even when you’re older. I learned this from my peers: not all of them were fresh out of school like me, there were several who had already learned a different job, maybe studied something else or done vocational training, worked in that job for years and then went back to get a BA.
High school was a drag, and I couldn’t wait to be out of there. College is where I felt my life was finally starting. I learned so much there – not just about my subjects, but about myself and the world.
But, as others have mentioned: I went out and joined groups to get to know people. At school, you get your class where you’re stuck together every day, so likeminded people will find each other almost automatically. At college, you have to go out and seek those people. Join clubs, form study groups, etc. It’s harder, but in my experience, it is so much more rewarding. And: If you find the right kind of people, you can organize your own parties with them – and make them just as great as, if not greater than, your high school parties ;-)
Although of course I can’t tell you how well that works with social distancing… I do feel sorry for everyone attending college right now. This is a bad time, not just for the obvious reasons but also for all the downstream effects, some of which we will only learn about later and some of which we might never be able to even measure.
Still. Don’t give up. It’s nice to have a time in your life you look back on fondly. But remember: your future is, to a large part, still up to you, and you will have plenty of opportunities to make even more times to remember :-)
I also miss high school. And being one of the smartest. So impressive when you’re 15 outsmarting 18 year olds but nobody cares when you’re 25 outsmarting a 28 year old.
I miss being in my high school marching band, but I don’t miss high school itself.
I really cannot overstate how much I don’t miss that period of my life. I bounced around school districts a lot, and ended up attending four different high schools in four years. Being a very introverted and socially anxious kid, this made having any sort of connection to others near impossible. It was four years of no friends, disinterested teachers, and apathetic guidance staff that stuck me in whatever classes had an open slot. I felt completely unwelcome and unwanted at every level. I don’t have any warm, comfortable memories of that time.
I do at least have the smug satisfaction of being able to tell all the people who insisted that I would greatly miss high school when I got older that they were wrong, wrong, wrong.
I transferred around the halfway point in my senior year, and due to differences in the district’s requirements I was told I wouldn’t have the right credits to graduate. I was told the two required classes were not offered for summer school, they were each only one semester and I would not be allowed to only enroll for half a year and for only two classes. I would have to attend for a whole extra year and take a full schedule of classes.
I turned 18 two weeks later and immediately dropped out.
I loved high school, but never missed it once I was out. My senior year I knew that I was in the last stage of that part of my life and I enjoyed every minute I could. I went to one of the best public high schools in the country, academically (the football team was awful. our favorite sideline chant was “IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!”). A friend took several AP tests and tested right out of his Freshman year at the University of Chicago.
Got to college and discovered that a big school where I could disappear into the crowd didn’t work for me. Co-ed dorms, just before AIDS was a worry, with a drinking age of 18 (so they allowed alcohol in the dorms), being in the Crew Club (we had epic parties…), and no adult supervision. After 2 years I had a cumulative GPA of 0.0 and got a nice letter from the Dean inviting me to leave and never come back. (In the 35 years since then I’ve been on campus twice, both times to speak at AA meetings.)
Three years in the Army did me a lot of good. Probably should have done that before college. I think a lot of people would benefit from 2 or 3 years doing something else between high school and college. Many of us just aren’t ready emotionally even if we are academically.
After the Army I went to a small state school in Southern Utah (SUU is most definitely NOT a party school) where the big classes had maybe a hundred students, but the ones in my major ran from 15 to 4 students. I kept in touch with some of my professors for years after I graduated in 93 with a 3.0 GPA.
I don’t want to discount everything everyone else is saying, but I feel it also is important to add – it’s normal to feel nostalgic in times of stress and upheaval, both personal and cultural. Be gentle with yourself if you need to be a certain way in this crazy time. Maybe that’s corny and cheesy, but when you get old you allow yourself those things ;-)
I didn’t/don’t miss high school, but there are things I can appreciate it now looking back. We had a graduating class of 32 people, so yes, we were small. I honestly couldn’t tell you most of their names 20 + years later, so that tells you how close I was to them.
I missed college almost immediately after graduating w/a BA, but I knew couldn’t keep going on academically without a solid plan. I had gone to undergrad without a plan, just “I like English and I’m good at it so I’ll do that.” I knew that continuing to do that for grad school would just be delaying the inevitable. (But if I won the lottery, I would just go to school forever, that’s how much I love it)
I wish I could have taken a gap year before that freshman year and worked a bit before going b/c the real world was a bit of culture shock for me. Not saying that is your experience, just saying that was mine. My university was in big city and I still had to move away b/c it just hurt too much to be there, but not there, you know? One foot still in the door. I had to move away and grow up some more, belatedly, but I did it. If I could do it all over again, I would do it differently, but I also don’t regret it (now that the loans are all paid off!)
If you feel yourself wanting to go back to the past, there’s always journaling. Not a therapist (I don’t even play one on TV), but when I feel myself stuck, I set a timer for 15 minutes and let it fly.
Nope. Don’t miss the bullying and the ostracism at all.
That’s not to say that I never had any fun in high school. I did, especially in my junior and senior years. I can still smile at those memories. But I haven’t set foot in that building since the day I graduated. There’s a reason.
tl;dr – High school is a microcosm of everything else. Or maybe vice versa.
You move on to college, the military, industry, or even on to a new block or apartment complex. You’ll still have the popular folks, those that are “different.” You’ll have nerds, geeks, cheerleaders, jocks, stoners (whatever they’re called in this century).
So if you miss high school, look around and you’ll see that you never left. Just the faces and places are different.
What sangela71 said. Though in fairness, it was way better than middle school.
Athena, thanks for sharing. I appreciated your openness and your self-reflection. Before I add my own personal thoughts of my younger experience, I wanted to note how valuable such traits are and how uncommon they can be. Transitions of any sort, even desired and anticipated ones, can be hard. And one of the most challenging in our society and culture today is the transition into adulthood. We do a lot of things to make that transition more difficult than it needs to be and we offer relatively little societal support. I think part of that problem is also rooted in how, broadly speaking, many seem to consider children, in a lot of ways, as somehow less than fully human with everything that implies. I think now that you are not immersed in the aspects of the experience that were not as helpful or beneficial, the parts that were may feature more strongly in your memories. The self-reflection you exhibit can only help you as you move forward. And, of course, never forget this has been and remains an incredibly challenging period even for those of us who are already well-established. My youngest graduated college this past spring. I’m glad we can provide a stable base for her to try to orient herself. This is a hard time even with the support we can provide.
Now to answer you question: Do I miss high school?
No. Never. There’s no part of childhood education experience from kindergarten on that I ever miss.
But that requires unpacking because my childhood looked very little like the common experience, even the common dysfunctional experience, in our culture and society. Casual conversations have always been hard for me since they tend to often jump to broadly shared cultural experiences like high school and college. I’ve learned over the years how to extract, massage, and present bits so they sound normal-ish and don’t draw unwanted attention and mixed reactions.
Those who have had their own mix of trauma and the effects it can cause may not want to read even the few bits I’ll share. I don’t often do that, but Athena was open and vulnerable and I respect and want to honor her willingness to share. I won’t go into gory details nobody wants to read amid their discussion of high school memories, but it’s hard for me to say anything honest on the topic without referencing some of it. I hadn’t thought about it in those terms until I was writing this disclaimer, but it’s sad when your childhood requires a content warning.
There are multiple directions that made my whole school experience … challenging.
First, though I wasn’t diagnosed until 2016, I’m autistic. I didn’t speak until I was 3, but when I did start speaking, I skipped many of the earlier steps. I still had major problems with dropped and substituted syllables, but speech therapy mostly cleared that up by the time I was 5. I continued to have unusual prosody and unexpected body language and expressions until I began working on those in a systematic way on my own when I was 9. Acting classes a few years later also helped tremendously. I wouldn’t say I achieved ‘normal’ but more that people could no longer put their finger on it the times something felt ‘off’. My early introductions to groups of peers were disastrous. Things got so bad quickly at my first kindergarten that I had to be moved to a different school. By the time I started high school, though, I was as about as good at blending in as I’ve ever been able to be.
That would have been challenging enough on its own, but I also had a … challenging home life.
And by challenging, I mean a childhood managing caregivers struggling with mental illness and substance abuse and some that were outright abusive. That’s not a term I use lightly. My earliest clear memory is being thrown across the kitchen by my biological father, hitting the refrigerator handle, and breaking my left femur. I was three years old at the time. When your caregivers are compromised, when you aren’t dealing with abuse, neglect becomes the norm. And there are often times when you have to take care of them or take care of, in my case, my younger sibling.
That instability also meant we moved frequently throughout my childhood. On the one hand, that wasn’t horrible. If a situation had gotten toxic at school, a move to a different school meant I got to try new strategies. By the time I reached junior high or middle school age, I was able to blend in and navigate the school environment well enough to keep things tolerable.
However, that achievement and the work I had put into planning for high school was ripped from me by that same familial instability. The summer before I started high school my mother moved us from where we had lived for four years inside the loop in Houston (Montrose area) to a very rural area in the Arkansas Ozarks leaving my adopted father behind as he finished his phd in genetics. We were extremely poor and I had to help keep track of the money we did have. My mother’s mental health began to deteriorate in even stranger and more bizarre ways than in the past that year. I had adapted reasonably well to Houston. I struggled a lot with the dramatic change in culture.
Then, most of my freshman year into the next summer I was groomed and sexually abused by an adult woman in her twenties who was the daughter of one of my mother’s strange array of friends and who sought my mother out for “counseling” and support as she was going through a divorce and other life issues. She would stay with us off and on throughout that year.
Not long after that ended, I ended up with a different girl and fell in love with her. Looking back, it’s really that she decided for some reason she liked and was interested in me and acted on it. I didn’t actually do much but respond and in some ways slow things down. (Actually, at first I was clueless. She finally sent one of her friends over to tell me bluntly that she wanted to date me.) She was a grade above me and about a year older. Shortly after the middle of my sophomore year she was pregnant and we got married in June.
I made it through a significant portion of my junior year before dropping out and picking up my GED instead, largely due to an intensely unsupportive environment from some teachers and the school staff.
Academically, I’ve always loved learning. I do it on my own and excelled at that aspect at every level. I was a Merit finalist. I routinely placed in math contests up to the state level. I played football, though not particularly well. I enjoyed the challenge. Everything else? Not so much.
I don’t regret my childhood in the sense that I long to have had a different one. The moment I first held my oldest daughter and each child after her are the moments most filled with pure and unadulterated joy in my life. They are the moments to which I turn to pull me through my darker moments. From the moment I saw her face, my goal in life was to learn to be the sort of parent she needed me to be. I screwed up a lot with her and with all my kids. But I tried to always learn from my mistakes and do better. My younger kids got the benefit from my earlier mistakes. I was also always willing to acknowledge my mistakes and apologize. I also listened and took my children seriously as fellow humans. Were they inexperienced humans? Sure. But I see too many adults who treat children the way I remember from my childhood, dismissing them and acting as though they do not deserve the same dignity and respect every human being should receive.
But do I miss any of my childhood, including high school? No. There’s nothing I miss or for which I feel nostalgic. I survived childhood and I’m fortunate to have done so.
I’m wordy by nature when I write and this went on longer than expected and probably too long for a comment. Feel free to mallet it if it interrupts the desired flow or tenor of the discussion. I don’t take offense at such things. There are all sorts of factors that go into a decision like that. I did want to try to provide an honest answer to a sincere question.
Take care and stay safe.
I miss the not having to worry about other people (like my kids and job part) and I miss the sense of comfort and community. I don’t miss the restrictions (my high school had a dress code), my impotence (I couldn’t drive and it was hard to do some of the things I needed to do – cross-country and track meets), and my lack of self- and other-awareness and occasional arrogance. I don’t think I would want to go back to high school. For me, I enjoyed college better, though I hadn’t learned the self- and other-awareness yet and was still pretty arrogant. I had found something I liked and had some validation that I could be competent at it, and had a fair measure of independence.
Middle school was horrible. It was the social environment that high school was reputed to be with the cruelty of elementary school, and lots of insecurities (for almost everyone, I think).
I miss dorm life in college. I mean, the dorm sucked, but I made a bunch of friends there. I miss high school less. It was boarding school. It sucked more and I actually made more friends in college.
I was also always considered smart. Also, biochemistry hit me like a brick. I failed it and I didn’t end up being a pharmacist like I planned. I ended up (through various loops and turns) doing industrial electrical and automation. Lots of people still think I’m smart, even ones who didn’t know me in high school or college.
I really enjoyed reading this. I’ve never characterized myself as a person who missed high school but, as I read your piece, the aspects of it that you described made me think of the things I loved about those years.
I think there is such a strong narrative in American middle class/white culture of a person who is smart and ambitious gutting it out to get through high school and then finding their “tribe” in college and finding that their whole live just falls into place.
This was not my experience, and it sounds like it hasn’t been yours either. (I don’t know many people for whom this narrative fits, in fact). I’m 26 and I have strong memories of my first few years at college, going to college parties and trying to figure out what everyone was enjoying so much. Honestly, I started to be a lot happier when I stopped trying to figure out why everyone else liked college so much and started trying to sort out what I liked.
For me, what worked was living away from my college campus, having a job that gave me a schedule, and building my own circle of friends (this is a slow process and my circles tend to be small but I love ’em). This meant it took me a bit longer to finish school, but I made some money and had the chance to learn more about the work I liked doing. And it displaced my life from the competition that first and second year students seemed to be having at my school of who was “living it up” best during their college years.
Building your own community is so so hard. But for me, relying on my college to do it for me did not work. And spending time outside of my college microcosm also helped me to put my academic successes and failures in perspective (as it turned out my failures were less catastrophic than I’d thought).
I think there’s a reason that so many of the stories we tell each other are coming of age stories: that part of our lives is really fucking hard.
Best of luck with everything, and thank you for sharing your thoughts.
I understand that the experience with college at a big school can be daunting the first year or so. However, there is hope for the personal relationship with teachers that you value. After you find your major, you will funnel into courses with a much smaller group of professors and also much smaller classes, sometimes only eight or ten people. Also you will see the same people with similar interests to you nearly every day, so friendships really start to happen. You may also find, as you get used to the professors in your major and encounter them in these small classes, that you start to develop real relationships with some of them. I encourage you to reach out to your professors and get to know the ones you find interesting. Most of them are really nice, worthwhile people who love to teach and have a lot of interesting things to say. Go to the office hours. Ask questions at the end of class. Email them. I made friends with my professor of Spanish literature (don’t ask) and he turned out to be the most lovely person. Even in large universities it is possible to have a really good group of friends and a set of teachers whom know you and who care about you personally.
I find it impressive that you feel you can open up about yourself in a forum like this. That takes some courage, even as nice as the readers of this site seem to be be.
I suspect the reason I didn’t miss high school when I moved on to college was because I quickly found in college a group of friends (initially in my dorm house) whom I could relate to. I took classes that challenged me (go Core Cirriculum). Ultimately I took opportuities to try new things, including working at the school paper for your dad (who had the grace to remember me almost thirty years later!). Now I look at both high school and college in a similar light, as part of my process of learning who I was, what sort of things I liked, and the people who I liked to be with. I miss the people the most. Even just a couple of years after I graduated college, when I went back for a visit, it was just a collection of buildings. The people were gone.
As for your situtaion, I can only say that from my perspective, it is a sucky time to be a high school/college aged person. When you are supposed to be out meeting people, learning to live on your own, making your own choices, trying new experiences, you are instead stuck at home, isolated from your peers, living with your parents (Ooof, that was hard to do after I graduated from college!) and not having the chance to grow like you should be as a person.
The only advice I can offer you is to continue doing what you are doing (in part through essays like this) – learning who you are and trying to be better at that. Challenge yourself everyday you are stuck at home to learn something new about the world, or try something new, or to engage with others as best you can. Finding a passion helps a lot in keeping you looking forward, not backwards.
As for setting a schedule, I had the same problem when I was unemployed for a stretch. Some people are just not schedule people. My wife is a night owl, sleeps late, stays up late. But she gets done what she’s looking to do when she up. That’s the schedule she keeps. Works for her, works for me, not so concerned about how it works for others. Just make sure you don’t wake up the old folks in the house wandering around at 1 AM.
I suppose if I were in a new city, still getting assimilated, still relatively cold and lonely, then I might go have a night of telling acquaintances in a bar about my old town. Kurt Vonnegut once referred to having in his body chemicals and hormones for why he liked (I forget what or who)
I guess if you aren’t having lots of interactions now then your body would say, “I’m less happy” and “I miss how it was.”
So, for when you “go back”:
1. If possible, take community college for all the 100 level courses required by your desired major and then transfer in. English 101 in a class of 20 is drastically better than English 101 in a class of 100. Within-major classes at state schools are usually capped around 35 or so, which is more feasible in many ways than the movie-theater-full-of-students Statistics 101 sorts of classes.
2. Keep an eye on class size caps, and go for the ones either with low caps (usually: everything beyond the “general ed” or “intro” courses) or with comparatively few students (sometimes advisors know which ones usually have small class sizes).
3. Pick a major which is a good size for you. Not so small you’re the only student, probably, but Weird Stuff can have groups of majors that are more in the 20-30 student size instead of the 100-1000 size. It also has to be adequately interesting, play to your strengths, etc., but unless your future career plans require your major to be One Specific Major, then look up the full list of majors available at the school and look into the ones that might be interesting but that you’ve never heard of.
4. Find groups (the chess club, the swing dancing group, the SCA guild, the [fill in the blank] thing. Obviously, don’t join on to anything that has red flags of “Dysfunctional Community” – but a lot of times, they are good, welcoming small communities).
4. Go to office hours.
The “go to office hours” tip dovetails nicely into the next thing: each level of “adulthood” comes with changes, and one of those changes for me was “if you move away from your friend group, then you can’t socialize on autopilot anymore” – you have to go find things and you also have to start things and you have to initiate friendships (soooo painful, especially because not everyone is in the same position – some have all their available friendship capacity already occupied). To varying degrees, it’s the same with professors, so go to office hours so that you can know them and they can know you and so you get that motivational power.
There are college parties that are not just about the alcohol – finding them is tricky, but also you can start things. (100% agree that college parties that are all about the alcohol are deadly boring as well as intermittently deadly; there are some rare exceptions, but I am not sure it’s worth attending enough parties to find them.)(but: you can have your own parties/social occasions. “I’m baking cookies on Saturday – want to come over and help make them?” can be a way to get to know someone slightly better, and you can have more than one additional person for a baking day, but it also doesn’t feel “sad” like a one person announced-party might. And then when you’ve got enough of your type of people, you can throw a pretzel-making party, or a dinner party, or a reading night [everyone has to bring a page or so of something they really like], or a radio drama night, or a movie night.)
Second, what a surprise [sarcasm] that you are nostalgic for a time when your mental health didn’t suck, and when you felt basically competent and respected in your world, if not welcomed by your peers. It is a huge hit to most people to feel failure and isolation at all (ah, unemployment…). Independently of that, it is also a huge hit to basically all people to have mental health issues (or chronic pain, or physical limitations), because hey, guess what, life is easier and more pleasant when your brain and body are working decently for you.
The fact that the most recent period of feeling-competent, feeling-necessary, and having decent mental health (plus someone you were pair-bonded to) was in high school for you says nothing about when you’ll next feel that way. Once you do, you will likely have Zero Highschool Nostalgia. But almost everyone misses the thing that sucked less than current times even if it still sucked. (see also: Israel in the wilderness: “But in Egypt we got stew and here we’re only getting manna; sure, we were slaves and they were killing our infants and beating us, but stew! And cucumbers!” Nostalgia for something objectively bad, because it didn’t have your least favorite feature of your current life, is an old, old thing.)
I guess: it’s okay to miss high school, even if it was lousy. It’s good to do what you can do (sometimes, admittedly, this is limited) to change your likely outcomes when your current situation sucks. (also! maybe check out Atomic Habits from the library and read it. A few things were new to me, and a lot of things were “okay, how many decades did it take for me to figure out that trick to help me get from “I want to have the results, but I’m not being able to get myself to actually do the thing” to doing the thing.)
And you will probably have a better-than-highschool chunk of life again at some point. :-)
Wow, but no. Sounds like different HS experience than mine.
Aside: as a student labeled ‘gifted’ in ES, when all I did was read a lot and enjoy standardized tests, I fully grok the “I suck at a lot of this stuff”. Kicker was when 3 seniors were pulled from class, to meet with some Hahvahd rep: class president, some science geek, and me; ethnic token with good test grades. I walked in with moccasin boots/ripped jeans/denim vest while preps were all preppy (mid ’80s). Sat down with dude, he opened my file, looked at my grades: “Hahvahd may not be for you.” YA THINK?!!
I went to new suburbia ‘country club’ high, where students got new trucks and cars for junior prom. Ended up there as Mom moved so I was zoned for it. We literally lived across the tracks from main golf club suburbia where school was located and I rode 10-speed to school the entire time in HS. Was total social loner only didn’t really know this as I felt compelled to socialize (and fail), as I felt that’s what people were supposed to do. Didn’t date, didn’t even hear of any parties (10 yr reunion, band geeks told me everyone made sure to keep quiet about stuff around me; too weird for band geeks), worked at pizza place prom night putting anchovies under the cheese of all the orders.
So glad to have left school. Being anonymous in college, taking what I wanted on my schedule, living alone, nothing but me, my Cat, and music; WONDERFUL!
COVID’s been an awakening as well; I love not having to leave my house! Only having to interact with the world through a screen is so relaxing!
I don’t miss high school, but I badly miss college, and I think for pretty much the same reasons as you miss high school, Athena (full disclosure, I went to magical faerie-land art college, so my experience was different from the usual college lecture hall deal). This year marks the ten-year anniversary of me ending college (not graduating, that’s another story!), and like you I miss having a reason to get up in the morning, being constantly surrounded by a group of friends (I was also the Wheels for my group), and having that sense of still having my whole life ahead of me. It’s not just you!
Oh yeah, college experience:
1st time: community college (still on 10-speed); expelled after getting my own apt. and discovering beer. .02 GPA
2nd time: military community college: not bad, got nursing/EMT certs, hair cuts suck.
3rd time: community college again (back home, retaking everything I failed): 3.75 GPA
4th time: Art School! (no maths) Only time I had roommates; rented large house, everything in my name; disaster.
5th time: Large tech-oriented uni (near mouseland and rocket launch place). Not bad, got bored after 2 years. Still grooving with 3.0+ GPA.
6th time: Large general uni, trying to finish up degree related to cartography job. Lost job, lost interest.
7th time: Small, 3rd tier private college with own beach; free tuition as employee; computers for business majors. Married and living in house bought, not rented at this time. Dropped out of college when daughter was born (wife would not allow me to name her something cool like Penelope/Athena/Klytemnestra so ‘bitter herb’ it was).
14 years of full time college, no actual degree. But I did pay off my school loans this year, which is nice. I have that going for me.
Overall, if I found a winning lotto ticket, would go to school forever, but not just college; trade schools, music school, cooking schools; I wanna learn it all!
I loved high school. I found My People – the nerds in the computer center – and had a social circle and felt accepted for the first time. College was worse for me socially because I had to find My People off campus and because most of my fellow students weren’t as smart or interesting as those I’d gone to high school with.
I don’t miss high school. I do miss what it could have been. We moved in the middle of the ninth grade. The town was nice, but I had regular migraine and asthma attacks. Born in 1959, they also would have diagnosed me with PTSD from family medical emergencies. In the fourth and sixth grade friends died. By medical emergencies I mean E.R.’s would jump the queue. Schock, stroke, were the two that I had to handle because my folks weren’t home when it happened.
But Trenton was a good town, and I had better friends than I realized at the time, which is why I miss what it could have been.
Looking at the college socializing stuff… maybe when the pandemic is over, you might consider transferring to a SLAC (small liberal arts college). Though if you don’t have that much college left to go it might not be worth it. shrugging emoji
I don’t miss it at all. I was bullied through most of it and mostly a loner through all of it. I was miserable and an underachiever, and also I think I had a nervous breakdown sometime in my freshman/sophomore years. The only joy I had was outside of schools, in books and other lonely pursuits. I remember desperately wishing to find a door to another world. College was ever so much better. I think that was my doorway to another world. I miss certain things about college, but I don’t think I’d go back to it.
Miss it? Mixed feelings…as a first-generation American, I got shipped off at age 15 to boarding school in Europe (much cheaper than most American boarding schools almost 60 years ago), and it was rough. Think of an English “public school” (like Eton or Harrow) run by Germans. The usual bullying, plus having to learn a couple of languages, plus learning that compared to US public schools, European kids have to fucking work…seven periods a day (five on Saturdays), plus homework. I totally didn’t fit in–a middle-class American kid among the upper class (scions of wealth, even some minor royalty). For the first year (of almost four) I was miserable; later on it got less worse, but partly through my growing layers of defenses and artificial personas that not only took me decades to work past, but drove my long-suffering wife into a psychotherapist (as in going back to school to become a really good one herself).
On the other hand, it was in a physically gorgeous alpine location, and that contributed to a love of nature that’s remained immensely important to me. I made very few friends–and have really remained in touch with only one of them, but that remains a very rewarding relationship even now, and I got a good education (aced the SATs before returning to the USA for college), as well as gaining not only several European languages at native speaker level, but also exposure–in depth–to several cultures very different from those in which I’d grown up until then. I think I gained a breadth of experience that would have been hard to achieve back home (in the early to mid 1960s).
Unfortunately (or maybe not), the rigid discipline enforced at that school precluded me from developing much, if any, of my own, so that my subsequent university career, while not unenjoyable, was underwhelming in the extreme. Ultimately, I dropped (or, to be honest, flunked) out, and it wasn’t until some years later that I found, somewhere, the discipline to learn the trades (aviation and writing) that have nourished me, body and soul, for the rest of my life. (I might add that both require discipline, and at least one–guess which!–can punish a lack thereof with unusual severity.)
So yes, I miss some of it–but certainly not all of it.
Athena, part of what you are feeling is indeed the knowledge that one part of your life is Over – you’ll never be there again.
I remember riding in the school bus on my last day of elementary school, and feeling massive nostalgia knowing that I’d never be back there again. ‘Elementary school’ and ‘nostalgia’ rarely go in the same sentence :)
And that would have been back before Nixon was re-elected, but I can steel recall the feeling.
Another no-misser here, for many of the same reasons the commenters here said.
I think it shows the day and age we learned, and now that most of us commenters are middle-age, a difference is the environment and experience we were educated in.
A lot of us came out of school systems we despised, and reformed education to not repeat the same misery on our children. Classrooms are mostly computerized, you have a lot more extracurricular activities, and certainly a lot more electives that are more intellectually stimulating for scientific and creative types. Let’s not even get into the athletics arms race. :)
I definitely noticed an attitude shift as millennials were coming through the system, and it still might be true of Gen-Zers coming through the pipeline now. Your memories of school are positive. I venture to guess most commenters here are baby boomers or Gen X-ers, and our attitudes are decidedly more negative.
I don’t want to say “school movies” are accurate portrayals of schools for their time, but you can think of school movies as entertainment aimed at current high-schoolers but drawing on the anxieties of the generation before it. Gen Xers were in school in the 1980s, but would have been too young to write and produce a feature-length film intended for them. A film like “Fast Times and Ridgemont High” and “The Breakfast Club” is an ’80s film but reflected a boomer’s conception of a 1980s high school. The protagonist is typically an underachiever in a spectrum between jock and nerd.
By the time the 1990s came around, X-ers did get a toehold in Hollywood and hoo boy did the education film take a dark turn fast. This is when you started to see “Lean on Me,” “Dangerous Minds,” “187” and other blackboard noir films.
These are exaggerations, yes, but they kind of track the expectations and anxieties of the parents of their time.
I catch myself missing high school from time to time. The way it was structured made sure every day had purpose, and I liked the friends I made and the activities I did there. Yeah, there was always drama and stress, but I remember as it being a pretty safe time in my life.
But I do not wish I could go back. At all. Despite the sense of security I had, and the opportunity to try many things, I wouldn’t want to lose the freedom and progress I’ve gained since moving on.
Nevertheless, sometimes I get nostalgic.
A lot of what you are talking about you get again when you establish a career, particularly if you work in a team. You have a shared goal that you are working towards. You have ups and downs and there can be a big social aspect.
Another thing about going from high school to college:
A very large high school (say 3,000 students) is the same size as a very small college. In almost all cases, you will be transitioning to a much larger situation, like moving from village/small town to large town/big city. When you add in the likely larger physical size and different paces of moving through it and different majors, you’ll never know everybody like you did in high school.
Instead of being in a smaller group, you will have to find/create/maintain a smaller group.
Nope. Never. Not even once. SO GLAD to be out of there. I also went to a small college, and there I had a fabulous 4 years — finally got some distance from my very sad and dysfunctional family, made good friends, had some exceptional professors (who weren’t much interested in the academic publish-or-perish game; they just loved their fields and wanted to teach), and had many good times (it was the late 60’s — there was a lot happening). I really miss having a 20-year-old body and mind. 20-year-olds have super powers, and they don’t even know…
I cried in the 3rd grade because I could not spell. I was diagnosed, as having poor auditory processing. I can not sound out words to spell them, and I can not learn a foreign language. Also i was diagnosed as gifted. A rare dual diagnosis, one can be smart and dumb at the same time! About 85,000 students in America have this.
Hello, self esteem issues. “I don’t get, why you do not understand this.” leaving your teacher’s mouth is not helpful. And to practice long hours to improve from awful to poor is demotivating.
Geometry is more visually based skill, then others. This could be an area of weakness. Do you stink at other vision dependent tasks?
I have seen students unable to tell the difference between a 45 degree angle and a 90 degree angle.
Chemistry can be visual too.
My wife has a phd in chemistry. She declared the video below as the best explanation of the atom ever. The amazing nano brothers at the Boston Museum of Science.
Having teachers and peers give a shit about you, is a great motivator. In giant state university you are treated as just a number. But there are lots of options.
Nope. Never missed it. I finished HS a very long time ago and have never been back. I’ve never joined the alumni society, and I’ve never gone to a HS reunion. The best part of my time in high school was spent socializing with people who didn’t go to my HS.
I didn’t enjoy junior high or elementary school, either. Grad school was torture. My best educational experience was as an undergrad at USC. I didn’t live anywhere near campus, so once again the best part of my “college experience” wasn’t actually at college.
Perhaps the nostalgia you’re feeling for HS is because you’re not happy with the here and now, and not just because of the pandemic. You don’t like your college parties as compared to your HS parties. They do sound boring from your description. As others have intimated above, maybe you’re just not at the right college for you. It may have seemed like it at first, and you did visit others, but maybe you need someplace fresh. Maybe a smaller school, maybe a bigger city, maybe a different state. Who knows? Just find someplace where you can have a fresh start and be YOU.
Despite never being anywhere within shouting distance of the In Crowd I still had a great time in high school. I had some good friends. I fell in love. I had experiences I treasure even today. 35 years later I’m still close with a couple of those people.
I wouldn’t do it again for blood nor money, though. Once was plenty.
I’m a historian, and if there is anything my discipline has taught me it is that the past is a lovely place to visit sometimes, but not a great place to live.
I cannot speak for you. But from my experience, it is a good thing to remember the people and moments that made a time and a place special and to understand that there will be other people and other moments as well.
Not sure if that’s helpful or just tiresome Old Person Rambling, but it is well meant.
I don’t miss high school or college, and frankly the only difference between college and high school was that I didn’t have to take out loans to pay for high school and I could get lunch at the college cafeteria without people thinking it was my first night at Fight Club.
But if you had a better time than I did, I’m not going to begrudge you.
I was actually much happier in high school than a lot of people are. I had plenty of times I was unhappy about specific events, but I didn’t think of myself as unhappy there overall. I am still in touch with a number of people (including old teachers) and like going to reunions. But I got really tired of being a teenager and hanging out with teens. I both longed to be a reasonable adult and had no idea how to get there. In a way I felt as if I never was, say, sixteen, I just oscillated between being emotionally about 12 and emotionally about 20. So I wanted out, which was a healthy thing, and I was mostly happy at college, though I still didn’t feel as though I knew quite what I was doing. I made a lot of progress intellectually and emotionally, but it took a while to process and integrate what I had learned into myself. Like becoming bigger and stronger fast, but being uncoordinated for a while as you learn to manage longer limbs.
I think for some people it comes very naturally to live in the present and seldom or never chew over things that happened a while ago. Not for me. Memories have always been super important to me, from as far back as I can recall. I have also had several times in my life when aspects of my past have come up and hit me in the face and said THINK ABOUT ME, NOW. Not necessarily trauma or anything (though some of it was), but just Stuff.
I suspect that most intelligent people have periods like this, where they question themselves and their abilities.
Imposter syndrome is a real thing. It really hit me in my third year of college – up until then I had, nearly effortlessly, mastered almost everything I tried academically (except languages; because I read so much, I was able to convince my teachers I understood the rules of grammar and syntax when I truly didn’t, and learning a second/third language is a lot harder when it turns out you don’t really understand the first!). I even placed out of a bunch of things my freshman year. But then, in my second year, I started encountering things that didn’t make sense to me. OK, I know how to work hard and memorize things, and that got me through. Then I hit the third year and ran into things that no amount of hard work was going to help with. It had me questioning if I was ever really smart or had just been faking it all these years.
What I did not know then (and perhaps, could not know until it happened) was that time and space are undefeated. Try enough challenging things, and you will fail spectacularly sooner or later. If you don’t, you’re not challenging yourself. It took me most of the semester to get my head on straight and re-engage, and realize that allowing myself to fail at something was liberating. Freed from that expectation, I was able to get back to learning and being kinder to myself when I had given my best effort and come up short, and I enjoyed college a lot more after that.
I hope that once you’re back with people and a context that you and your friends can embrace that you’ll be more able to be your best self. I look forward to reading what you write!
I definitely enjoyed high school more than college, but I think some of that had to do with where I went to college. I went from a very diverse high school, where I was engaged in sports and activities and had many friends like me, to a small liberal arts Southern college (literally half the size of my high school) where I was still involved in sports but gradually dropped out of many activities. To say that I felt like a fish out of water is a profound understatement. I was also one of those kids who aced high school AND college classes, but really didn’t take enough challenges. I think part of the problem was that I fit into a very weird middle ground, where many liberal arts college classes were an easy A but Chemistry 100 — chem for poets? Oof. So I really didn’t know how to branch out, try new things, challenge myself or challenge my environment to fit me better. I got a very good education in college, but lost a lot of self-confidence and was given no direction whatsoever on planning for my future. We won’t go into the dismal social options available at a small town college.
I can honestly say, as a teacher, that the educational system is a mess. We all know it, we know we need to change it (and more pertinently, that the changes we need are profound) but we’re fighting an uphill political battle against school boards and state officials who’ve never spent a day in a classroom as an adult and have no idea what they’re doing. This is why local voting matters, and doing your research on local candidates matters — even for things like the school board.
I like what KC said, including (but not limited to) creating unconventional parties. Whenever I or someone else did so, after diplomatically beating around the bush to get some “buy in,” it always worked out fine. I mean, always.
One or more years (I forget how many) after high school I got a letter for a reunion, (sent to the old family home) complete with a list of people they couldn’t find. A short list, and ALL my favourite people were on it.
One of the reasons I use my full name on the web is that I don’t want to culturally appropriate the code names of street kids. You may recall that after Buffy ran away from home she ended up relinquishing her code name Ann, returning, and visiting the college where her high school friends are attending. The scraps of conversation she overhears in the halls are always intellectual and excited about education. Poor Buffy.
But if she went to a typical student party, with folks crowding the stairs, she would find that the students were acting like clones of non-students their age. Non-students? What’s the point?
You can indeed find parties of students excited for this time in their lives, (I did) but as KC knows, it takes a little initiative.
Hated it, don’t miss it. A friend’s parent once told me (while I was in high school) that I would look back at high school as the best days of my life. I actually responded to her with “then shoot me now”. I was happy to actually say the response in real time and not think of it at two in the morning the next day. I was also very happy to determine that she was 100% wrong. Life got much better after high school.
I do not miss high school at all. I had a few close friends, but lost contact with them shortly after leaving for high school. My college was 800 miles from my high school, which meant I had to move on quickly. My parents followed me out to the Midwest during my junior year of college, so that put high school completely behind me.
My undergraduate college was awesome. I was able to discover my authentic self. I changed my major a couple of times until I found a good fit. I met my wife and made some good friends. My grandparents worked at the college, so I got to bond with them. My professors were very approachable, and were both advisors and mentors.
(Of course, it helps that Ball State is heads and shoulders above all MAC schools. 😉 )
My son is going through the college admissions process right now. His current favorites are three hours and five hours away. I think the closer college is the better of the two, but he would probably grow more as a person by attending the further college.
Chris, above, changed majors. When I was a college tour guide there was an obscure corner I always stopped my group at to say that a number of them would change majors, and it is a good idea, besides other signs, to notice what students you are spending your time and weekends with.
I’m still chuckling at my classmates telling a prof I was changing to another major and she replied, “Where he belongs!” Not only had she seen me with them, but a guy had talked about me to her.
(Note: I changed a setting on my “Sean does essays” site. I’ll see if this time I can leave my URL… nope, can’t connect to WordPress)
I didn’t have a friendship group in high school, but I did find one in college. Consequently my experience of this was totally different from yours, and my feelings about it differ likewise. (Also, academics: geometry was the only form of math I enjoyed, and I got more out of reading “1984” than “Animal Farm.”) I went to Big State U on the grounds that at a large school I would better be able to carve out my own niche of interests, and it worked out that way.
Summer vacation is an outdated anachronism from the 19th century to let children work on family farms. It is kept on mostly as a pathetic money saving crutch for local BoE’s so they don’t have to build schools with air conditioning. Air conditioning that would cost about half the money they pour into sports ball fields/stands/lighting in most of those towns.
Here’s an idea that you or others out in college-land, post-covid, might want to try:
As you know, most college students are apathetic. (From the Greek “a” without, and “path” spirit) But the few who are getting life out of college, although few in percentage points, are numerous enough that they knew each other’s faces (and/or names) because, well, active. … You get out of college what you put in.
Would the apathetic students, in the student building, continue up the stairwell PAST the food court to notice a big poster? Would they read the student newspaper (print/digital) or see the student TV or hear the student radio? Answer is no, no, and no. So that is where we advertised that we had a temporary liquor license for Friday afternoons for a certain lounge above the tavern. Our excuse was “to handle the tavern overflow.” Good excuse, eh? The club offices, to be sure, had word-of-mouth.
Therefore, when the apathetic types suddenly discovered their school spirit on Friday, to cram like idiot sardines into the student tavern, unable to meet any new people… we band of siblings, we happy few, had a lounge where we all recognized each other. Often with paid entertainment.
All good things have to come to an end: Eventually the “establishment,” aka the administration, found out and they informed the huge hordes of incoming freshman every year, which ruined it.
@SusanB– the woman in charge of the church nursery where I volunteered said that to me once when I was either starting freshman or sophomore year, but I felt so sorry for her that I didn’t say anything back. Can you imagine?
Here’s a great Sheldon Comics comic illustrating the idea: http://www.sheldoncomics.com/archive/090614.html
I like how the Sheldon comic, above, had a nice ending for everybody.