Identity and relationships

This Was Me: The High School Years

chain of stones in the shape of a heart

Peopled seemed to like the This Was Me post that covered my younger years, and this post will look back at my high school years.

I wasn’t a huge fan of that time in my life.  Nothing bad happened; I just felt like I had very different interests from the vast majority of my peers, and I had no desire to try to “fit in”.  I had my core group of friends and that was fine, but it wasn’t until I reached university that I felt like I was really in my element.

I’ll warn you now that my hair and fashion choices during that time left a lot to be desired.

author as a teenager in Japan, chopping noodles

The summer after grade 8, I went on a 2-week school exchange trip to Japan.  Another student and I stayed with a host family, who were quite nice.  They had a fancy computerized toilet in the bathroom that the other girl and I used, but I didn’t try pressing any of the buttons, mostly because I didn’t want to have to call anyone in to rescue me from whatever the toilet might do.

I wasn’t so keen on the food, and ended up losing quite a bit of weight while I was there.  I ate rice and not a whole lot else.  One morning they served us fish heads for breakfast.  I didn’t have the slightest clue what to do with it.

This photo is me chopping noodles of some sort.  You can sort of see the braces that I was rocking.

author in Quebec City as a teenager

This is the summer after grade 9.  I was doing a 6-week French immersion program in Quebec, the French-speaking province in Canada.  We stayed in college dorm rooms, which were pretty basic and had godawful plastic-covered pillows.  I came down with chickenpox not long before the program started.  I was probably still contagious when I had to fly out there, but my parents stuck me on the plane anyway.

I bonded with two girls and we were inseparable the whole time.  This photo is taken in one of the girls’ dorm room.  At that point in my life, I was a huge hockey fan, and it was a strong possibility in my mind that I might end up marrying Trevor Linden of the Vancouver Canucks (the t-shirt I’m wearing had his name on it and the Canucks’ logo at the time).  The fact that he was already married wasn’t a deterrent at all in my imagination.

Grade 9 was the year when I decided a perm would be a good idea for some reason.  Clearly, that didn’t work out well.

author as a candystriper in her teens

I’m not sure if this was from grade 10 or 11.  I volunteered as a candy striper at the dinky little local hospital.  A couple of my friends were doing it as well, and we’d get a little party going at dinnertime in the extended care wing’s dining room.  We’d feed our assigned residents and keep up a merry chatter as we went.

Tucked into my pocket is a wrist brace.  I had developed tendinitis from playing piano, but it persisted for at least another year after I stopped playing.

author at science camp as a teenager

This was from the summer after grade 10.  I went to a month-long science camp type of thing.  It was held at the university where I later ended up studying, and we stayed in the same student residence complex where I lived in my 1st and 2nd year.

Science camp wasn’t as dorky as it sounds.  Most of the other kids were a couple of years older than me, so while I had people I was friendly with I didn’t make any solid friends.

The month after this I did an internship with a company that had sponsored me for the camp.  I ended up stopping that early because I developed profound fatigue, to the point that even walking was difficult.  A cause couldn’t be determined, but I wonder if it may have been an early glimpse of depression, even though my mood wasn’t depressed at the time.

author's high school graduation photo

This was my high school graduation photo.  I’d managed to ditch the perm by this point, but the bangs would persist for another couple of years.

I didn’t particularly want to go to my high school graduation.  For one, I just didn’t care, but also my best friend had a convenient excuse to be out of town at the time.  I remember one of the parents on the grad committee saying it would be one of the most important times in my life, and I thought what a sad life that would be if my dinky little high school graduation were to be the high point.

When I began university, I knew very quickly that I was where I belonged; high school was what got me there, but really wasn’t worth remembering beyond that.

That’s the high school years, and next week we’ll fast forward to my travelling 20s.

All photos are the property of the author.

The rest of the “this was me” mini-series can be found here:

47 thoughts on “This Was Me: The High School Years”

  1. “I remember one of the parents on the grad committee saying it would be one of the most important times in my life, and I thought what a sad life that would be if my dinky little high school graduation were to be the high point.”

    Hahaha! Totally relate to this line of thinking! I respect you going against the grain 😄. I also ducked out of this school prom that they did at the end of school, and which seemed to require a ridiculous amount of effort to be put into it! When I could just go home and play computer games with my internet friends, or play with my younger brother. No contest! Lol.

    I also felt much more at home at university— everyone was more differentiated from each other, and easier to talk to. Actually it’s remarkable to think of the contrast between me in my final year of school and first year of university. 6 months was the difference between a social recluse and someone revelling in making new connections and making people laugh! Also between breaking the rules to have flexible time to study, and that being the norm.

  2. I would also be scared of the computerised toilet…

    I didn’t enjoy secondary school either. I got bullied quite a bit. I guess that had mostly stopped by the time I got to where you were in these photos, but I distrusted almost all the other kids at school by that stage and didn’t let my defences down much. I avoided the exchange trip/stay away things mostly (with one exception), in retrospect quite clearly for reasons of social anxiety and autistic “unknown situations” anxiety.

    1. Oh, also, we didn’t have a school graduation, but I avoided the Prom and year books (horrid Americanisms). I just wanted to get rid of them (the other kids, I mean). I graduated in absentia for both my degrees, again, partly from having had a miserable time, partly perhaps autistic dislike of big ceremonies and being the focus of attention. For someone who belongs to such a ritualistic religion, I have a strange dislike of big ceremonies.

  3. You did some awesome travelling! I can imagine a lot of things that you describe, like being afraid of a super high-tech toilet, I would be too. But the sweetest thing (to me) are your marrying plans. I had that kind of plans too (with a very popular singer here). Isn’t that sweet, the thoughts we have as a child or teen?
    We don’t do proms here (not in my days at least), I know the habit from movies. I would say you’ve missed nothing 😀

  4. Ohh, look at you!! You were so pretty and vivacious! And doing all those fun activities and trips!! Rock it!! These photos remind me a lot of my old photos! With the perms, and the bangs, and the eyeglasses–geek out! I used to have the huge round kind that covered my whole face and were plastic-rimmed. I had a pair in pink, and a pair in blue, at different times in middle school. I didn’t switch to the wire-rims until high school. You played piano? You never told me that! I play every day! Were you really talented? You must’ve been to get tendonitis! Wow! Sorry the tendonitis took you out of the game!! What did you play? Which composers did you like?

    I love the idea of losing weight by visiting Japan! 😀 What fun! I’m glad you’ve had all these great experiences!!

  5. Nice! I had a chance to go to Spain in high school but my mother wouldn’t let me. She was ridiculously overprotective. Now, I’ll never get to go anywhere. Good you have these memories 🙂

  6. Oh wow, the Japan exchange would have been amazing! I would have been a little too freaked out to use the computerised toilet though. I’m already a nervous pee-r. And like you I would have lost weight given the food choices. I don’t eat anything from the sea. Another thing that freaks me out.

    Out of curiosity, have you ever gone back to the piano after the tendinitis? Loved seeing your photos. Your graduation shot looks super professional, beautiful!

    xx

    1. I didn’t go back to playing piano, but that was as much because of availability as anything else. I left home at 18 and never really had the opportunity. I wasn’t all that musically inclined anyway.

  7. I felt the same way in high school. I had one friend I could genuinely trust not to talk about me behind my back so I never wanted anything to do with anyone else. That led to me not wanting to go to my high school graduation either. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who’s had this experience.

  8. I am enjoying your personal journey in these posts. I marvel at the fact that you have such lovely photographs of your personal story. Great share as always. Thank you Ashley. Peace

  9. Your “this was me” series is so much fun!! It’s awesome that you still have all these photos. And LOL, I felt very similar to you about my high school graduation. There was an after party for my high-school graduation called “grad night,” which to do this day I don’t regret skipping.

  10. we remember that team. Maybe Trevor Linden was the “face”of the organization lol. Wasn’t Pavel Bure the superstar?

    Seeing young yous makes the young me’s so happy!!! 💕

  11. What a great post Ashley and I loved reading your journey through high school. It seems you had a great time travelling, especially to Japan, My son went there when he was 16 for a month to practice more karate with a 6th Dan (that means he’s high up in the karate world lol) Anyway he loved it too.

    I love love love your graduation pic, you are absolutely stunning. Now I’m looking forward to your twenties 🙂 x

  12. Super cool! It’s so fun to see old photos and hear of your travels. It’s great you had such fun opportunities 🙂 I so remember perms and all the fashion fads, you wore them well! It’s neat to see the progression. My bestie was out of town for my graduation, it sucked. The highlight was riding on the back of my dads Harley afterwards, he was embarrassed that I had my cap and gown on. I told him to shut the F up, turn up the steve miller band and drive!

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