5 Emotions While Looking Through My High School Yearbook
Last weekend, I had dinner with some old friends. We started reminiscing on our high school years together. We talked about how long ago that was and how some of our classmates have children now, and some are married, and some are even divorced. Well, a friendly bet came up to see if half of our class had kids or not. I graduated in 2002 from a class of 103 students, so mostly all of us are 34 or 35 years old now. We tried to think of all of our classmates, but forgot some. So, when I got home, I got curious and decided to look through my yearbook to see who we missed. When I opened it, emotions ensued:
1. Non-Nostalgia (Meh)
Okay, sure "non-nostalgia" is not an actual emotion, but stick with me. The first few pages of the yearbook were the teaching staff. My school, Benjamin Banneker "Academic" High School, had some great teachers. However, I didn't feel connected to any of them like the other students. It wasn't the teachers' fault. They were engaging and very devoted to their jobs. I just simply wasn't checked in.
High school was arguably the weirdest season of my life. Looking back on it, I didn't really have an identity and I spent most of my time in a personality stalemate. I knew exactly who I was in elementary and middle school. I was one of the smartest in the class and I was sociable with a sense of humor. I'm not sure where things went left, but all of those attributes just went out the window in high school.
Our high school was the top public school in the city for academics, and you had to take a placement test to get in. So, I went from being the crème de la crème of intelligence, to just run of the mill. I kept my grades decent, but I no longer placed my value in that. I saw it as a lost cause among all these geeks. I mean, these kids were really smart. I also started to learn that being a nerd wasn't really a good look for the ladies, so I put my smarts on the back-burner.
I knew I wanted to fit in, but I didn't have a niche. The crown for the smartest was already taken with a long wait-list. Thug life was in at the time, but I couldn't pull that off if I tried. I wasn't much of a ladies man. I certainly wasn't a fashionista fly guy. So, I ended up becoming really introverted. I think I tried to pull off being "chill" and laid back, but these chubby checks weren't fooling anybody.
So, the first emotion I experienced from my yearbook was "meh" because most of my high school years were nomadic and disconnected. I had my circle of friends that knew the real me, but I never considered myself cool enough to venture outside of that safety net. I was so far removed from my high school years that I'm sure I haven't looked through this yearbook more than 5 times since I got it.
I flipped the pages and got to the senior class photos. Then, I saw my picture and remembered another reason I hated the yearbook. I was the only one who's picture had a huge dot right in the middle of my forehead. This got on my nerves when I first got my yearbook. Why did I have to be the one who's picture got messed up? Why did the printing glitch have to fall on me? What gives?!
Well, when I saw my picture this time around, I looked at the mark on my forehead as something that made me stand out. I saw it as God's mark over my life and me being predestined before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4). I'm not saying that I'm the only one from my class knows the Lord, but I'm the only one, that I'm aware of, preaching this gospel like a man possessed (with the Holy Ghost).
So, seeing the mark this time made me extremely grateful. That young man in the photo had a lot of hardships in life that were ahead of him. God didn't make sense to him, so he decided he would become an atheist. He couldn't understand a good God existing in such a corrupt world. He was very confused and didn't know who he was. That young man would go on to live a very sinful life of fornication, drinking, clubbing, anger, rage, cheating, pornography, depression, and the list goes on.
And the whole time, God had His hand over him all along the way (I just broke out in praise and tongues writing that. Glory to God!). The mark I had over me always felt like a reflection of how I never fit in, but I didn't realize that I was never designed to fit in. I was supposed to be different. I wasn't supposed to look and be like everyone else. I was called and I was chosen and I'm grateful. Glory to GOD!
As I continued to meditate on my picture, I realized that I was a pretty handsome young man...much more handsome than I remember feeling. I looked at some of the other guys in our class and realized that we had a solid group in the looks department. I had never really paid attention because I was so laser focused on girls during high school, that I probably couldn't spot my male classmates out of a police lineup (just kidding). It helps that we were all in graduation gowns and bow-ties in our pictures instead of baggy jeans, rubber bands around our socks (don't ask), and T-shirts two sizes too big (please, don't ask).
The reason why this stands out is because our school had a reputation for being the nerd school of the city. The girls outnumbered the guys 2-to-1, but the majority of us had no game what-so-ever. In fact, sometimes boys from other schools would come to our school to holla at our girls, since they were smart and pretty and surrounded by a bunch of geeks.
Don't get me wrong, there were a few guys in our school who had it figured it out and had their pick of the litter, but I wasn't one of them. I had no older siblings, my parents were older than most, and I was struggling with identity, so where would I learn the game from? When it was all said and done, I had two girlfriends in high school; one freshman year (on the low, and only for like two weeks), and another my senior year.
I think most of the guys figured something out by senior year. Listen, when hormones are raging and Parasucos, Sergios, and Iceburg jeans staring you in the face, a guy will make a way out of no way. (Side note: Almost every girl in our class had a "signature" pair of stretch jeans/pants. I could probably tell you what they were till this day. My friend and I actually gave out clothing awards for like 2 weeks. We called it B.A.B.E.S. "Bettering the Attire of Beautiful Educated Sistas"... I SAID DON'T ASK!!!)
Well, who knew that all our guys needed was a little swag and a little bread to step our game up. Almost all of the guys I've seen since high school are well put together and doing great for themselves. Man, I can only imagine how the girls in our class must have felt. Imagine going through your hormone years and being surrounded by guys that are afraid to talk to you lol. That's assuming that they liked any of us. If so, I want to be the first to apologize and let those girls know that I will be giving out reparations. (kidding lol)
One section of the yearbook was for the social clubs. We were encouraged to join clubs to add to our college resume'. So, the club I joined was the Poetry Club. As I looked at all of the members in the group, I couldn't help but wonder what we all had in common. To be honest, it was a bit of a rag tag bunch. Also, it hit me that the two girls that I dated were both in the poetry club with me. The one from freshman year, and the other who I started dating while in the poetry club.
Could it be that our souls were attracted on a deeper level than we may have realized? Was our compatibility beyond superficial high school stuff and more about our insight or desire for love? I recall writing a love poem about the girl I dated in poetry club. I would add it here, but I can't find it. However, I did find a a collaboration that the group put together, that may give some insight into who we were:
Woven threads of expressions
That manifest themselves into sorrow and depression
Into a downward spiral like a class without a lesson
They begin without an end in mind
And with progression they travel through time
All the while they refrain from spoken words emulating a mine
Yet and still they are the expressions of the woven thread
Delicately crafted from the subtle manifestations in my head
Tremendous divine intervention
Expressions of all woven threads of my soul.
-Collaboration of The Poetry Club
It's amazing how everything comes full circle. I was in poetry club then and now I write poetry, songs, and skits. Writing is a skill that I have always had, but it lied dormant until recently when the Lord has resurrected it. It just showed me that some things are placed in us by God and then he develops them along the way for His glory. They say some things never change.
Another thing that stood out to me was the amount of Christians that went to my school. I have no idea what it feels like to be a believer in high school. Sheesh, I can only imagine! I recall some people who were religious, but I didn't really understand it at the time. Well, looking through and thinking back, I was able figure out those who were probably believers at the time. Some of them even had biblical names.
Then, I got to the baby pictures where people were leaving quotes, and I saw that some left scriptures. I was like... "aww, snap, we about to start some church up in hea!!!" But seriously, for those kids to have a reverence for God at such a young age is a true blessing. Then, I looked at the parents that paid to have a section in the yearbook. Many of them were thanking God and leaving Bible quotes as well. It caused me to wonder how many of my classmates were trained up in the way they should go, but have departed.
It's about time that all of us go back to our first Love and live a life that's pleasing to Christ. This world has nothing to offer us compared to what God can give, and I think it's time for a lot of believers to come out of the closest. I know that the Lord is dealing with a lot of folks in their personal lives, and I just pray that we would have the urgency to care about our souls. God has been good to my class. They are super talented and doing great things across the country and the world. I know that it is the favor of God.
I know I said that I didn't experience it above, but as I flipped through the yearbook and even as I am writing this blog and listening to worship music, I am experiencing nostalgia. Some of it is from the high school memories, but much of it is just thinking about how far God has brought me. I'm so grateful that God saw fit to reach His hand down and save me. My high school years may have been a little awkward and undesirable for me, but it's a chapter in my life, and I'm grateful for every chapter when Christ is the author and finisher of my faith!
Side note: If anyone is wondering, our class had just about under half with children. I think we finished at about 50 or so out of 103, which speaks to another discussion of why Millennials are not having children. You can check that out below.