Speak, don't spit

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, December 04, 2003

In response to Katie Hale's "My Turn:" It seems that you have figured out that high school is a learning ground for much more than mere literature or mathematics. It is a place where you learn about yourself - how you define yourself as you accept and reject ideals and mores that may or may not resonate with your developing concept of self, sense of spirit, and ideas of right and wrong.

Having said this, I will admit that I find your final comment shocking, but not in the way you might think. What I find awful is the pain behind the anger. Look at paragraph three: "public humiliation," "complete rejection," "us who have never been a part" and "estranged by my peers." Your words are painful and so I wonder what creepy things the people around you have been saying or, worse, doing (though I know my curiosity will likely remain unsatisfied). I wonder because you feel the way I felt when I was in high school - very angry, very bitter - but for very specific reasons. I am definitely not one of those people who look back with fondness.

It seems like your reasoning for feeling the way you do, however valid, is rather vague. You really haven't said anything that makes me empathize with your anger, nor have you said anything new (or that doesn't also exist in the wide world of adults). You're probably saying right now that you don't care what I think, but because you troubled to publish your comments I rather think you do. I also think that if you had said something a little more personal, a little more revealing about why you feel the way you do, you might have been able to garner some support from the other people who quietly feel much like you. Of course, you probably don't care about that either. But here's the question: Why, then, if you don't care, did you bother to say anything at all? My guess is that you simply want to be hurtful or you really do want empathy. And from what I know of you, you're just not the hurtful type (family squabbles don't count here).

So, here's what I'm thinking: Maybe it's not all that important that you rail against what everybody already knows is true about high school and its attendant school spirit (i.e. peer pressure to do things you normally wouldn't, diminishing popularity contests, varsity athletes who think they can get away with anything, silly songs, and on and on). Maybe what's really important is that you learn to navigate these superficial behaviors and public humiliations and that you come out the other side feeling like you were true to yourself, like you didn't sell out ... that you didn't become what you loathe. I have faith that you will always be true to yourself - it took a lot of guts to express an opinion that can easily be considered unpopular (even if there are people who secretly agree with you). However, the next time someone has the audacity to ask you to show your school spirit, don't spit. Distinguish yourself from the crowd and respectfully state your views.

Robyn Holloway


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