High school was an intense experience for me. Now I know that’s because I am a hypersensitive person but I didn’t know this at the time when I was going through some of the most important changes in my life. I’ve always been a shy motherfucker with people I don’t know well and putting me in a completely new environment with terrible coping mechanisms could’ve ended much worse than it had.
I cried. I cried my eyes out several times in the first year because I felt out of my depth, I felt inadequate and abandoned (of course – objectively speaking – that wasn’t true). My first reflex I’d say in this new situation was to put up my defense armor: I kept to myself, I spoke and did only what was required of me, I studied insanely a lot and hardly ever got out – I just tried to keep my routine as it kept me from freaking out.
In the second term and the second year I began to go out more and I think it was then that I started to put more effort into making friends and bonding with other human beings; maybe I simply realized that it was inevitable to learn how to socialize because I was, after all, living with 200 girls in a big aesthetically deplorable building. I made my first true friend at that time (with whom I still keep in touch) and I became aware of how great it is when you find someone who is your platonic soulmate.
I also had my first heartbreak when I was 15. I liked a boy who was my age in the other, all-male class. And when my classmates arranged for us to meet (he didn’t know me; Facebook hadn’t become a thing yet) I put on my best wear and hurried outside the school gate to meet him. However, at my sheer horror, the potential date turned out to be just a lousy encounter that progressed no further: he didn’t want to have coffee with me – I just got it all wrong. Being so young and stupid as I was back then, I guess I nodded and went inside drowning in shame and anguish (which was later expressed with dark gothic verses in my special diary I kept so well-hidden under my desk).
Looking back at this, I think that somehow branded me against the male population in general, so I never again tried to make the first step and was more or less happy to just enjoy my female friendships. I’m slightly awkward around guys I feel attracted to even today and I’m not sure what the best way for dealing with that could be… Therapy? A drunk one-night stand? A robot boyfriend (I’m looking at you Japan, don’t let me down!)?
My other significant crush (in the second/third year) was my native language teacher. He was approximately thirty years older than me and was married (for the second time). I think I was fascinated by him as a person because he was authoritative and very good at his subject matter. The things he talked about seemed intimately close to him as a person. I believe I was more attracted to his brains than his physique because I really didn’t mind his bear-like body, age-appropriate wrinkles, the cigarette-breath or the fact that he had an ex-wife, a child and an adult life-partner. I only saw him as an idea, but that was just about enough to fuel my over-hyped imagination.
However ridiculous my crush was, it also made me work hard at being excellent in this subject and proving myself to the teacher. For that reason I had to find my voice to successfully and fervently participate in numerous discussions about literature, writers, literary theories, interpretations and even life itself (no matter how ironic it may sound).
Now, six years after graduation, I still struggle with my boarding school legacy. My high school experiences fucked me up to a point but they also forced me to grow into a stronger version of myself and introduced me to some of the dearest people I know. I don’t know when (or if) I’ll ever make peace with this part of my life, but I like to think it was the best option I could go for at the time.