It’s getting close to graduation time, which brings back some memories of my days at Troy High School back when the boys had long hair, the girls wore short skirts and study hall was everyone’s favorite class.
Specifically, it brings back memories of my biggest high school mistakes. The memories are a little foggy, being that we’re talking more than 40 years ago, but it seems to me the lessons are timeless.
Probably my biggest mistake was not being in the choir. I like to sing and now I wish I had a better understanding of music. But that’s not the main reason not being in choir was a mistake.
At the time, it wasn’t cool being in choir, but it was only after I graduated I realized the guys in choir outsmarted the rest of us. There were a handful of guys in there and a bunch of girls … I mean, the odds were spectacular. What was I thinking?
Another big error in judgment was the whole being cool thing. High schoolers back in my day spent a lot of time trying to be cool. However, it wasn’t cool to let people know you wanted to be cool, so I spent a lot of time and effort trying to act not so cool, which would mean I was really cooler than anyone else. If you think that sounds confusing, think how it was for a 16-year-old wearing bell-bottom pants and a tie-dyed T-shirt to figure out.
I realized my folly about a year after I graduated when I came to the realization I no longer cared if any of my old high school friends thought I was cool or not. It didn’t matter! All that effort for nothing.
This is not just an adolescent thing. I know a lot of people who spend a lot of time and money on things they don’t need to impress people they don’t even like. I spend my time trying to prove I don’t care what other people think, which would be really cool — if only it were true.
Another mistake: driving to the basket during a game at the infamous “Snake Pit” in Xenia. It is always better to pull up and shoot a jump shot in places like that. My layup ended up in the 12th row and I ended up in the stands beneath the basket, not a safe place for a visiting player to find himself. I managed to survive, although we lost by like a million points. I guess it was a mistake even playing there.
You could say it was a mistake avoiding some of the harder classes I could have taken, although I would have little use for physics or calculus these days. On the other hand, I’m sure it was a mistake not taking the time to get to know more people. I tended to hang around the same people and didn’t have the courage to make the effort to become friends with more people or investigate different ideas (remember the choir?) In the ensuing years I’ve discovered a lot of my classmates were really interesting people and I missed out on some good things by not knowing them better sooner.
On the whole, though, I’d say I was pretty lucky. I did some pretty stupid things — after all, it was the early 1970s — but I managed to survive them all and I even learned a thing or two along the way.
I suppose this year’s seniors can’t wait until it’s all over and they can finally escape high school. I don’t blame them, but you know what? I’ll bet a few years from now they will look back and realize some of the things they thought were so important really weren’t and the things (and people) they didn’t have time for really were valuable.
I guess that’s all a part of growing up — which, by the way, never ends. I guess if I had things to do over, I’d make some changes — especially when it came to pulling up and taking that jump shot.
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.