I work at a very small K-12 school as a tech guy. I’m in charge of every single piece of technology the school has, and for a small school it’s a lot. Over 130 iPads and iPod Touch’s, over 150 laptops, and over 100 desktops. Not to mention managing the network and making sure the school doesn’t crash when there’s a crisis. I’ve been able to go from school to school, meeting elementary teachers one minute and high school teachers the next. Through this mobility, I’ve been getting to know students, and the students have been getting to know me. The seniors are actually the class who’ve gotten to know me the most since they’re the more sociable class. There’s a few guys there who always say hi to me, and it’s always a pleasure whenever I get to work on a computer in one of their classes.1
Getting to be around kids, especially high school kids, has granted me the possibility to revisit memories of the time when I was in high school. I wish to believe that my 18 year old self would be proud of my 28 year old self. I used to be so shy and so angry and so full of self-contempt and insecurity that it poisoned my life for years. Now I’m on this journey that I never thought I’d ever embark upon when I was a teenager. I thought I was stuck with whatever life the universe gave me. Nobody knew the inner demons I battled with daily and how much I’ve had to fight to simply stay alive. Nobody knew this because I never talked to anybody about it. I was shy, and I didn’t have friends I could just talk to about this stuff. It wasn’t until I started seeing a therapist during college that all of this pent up rage and pain spilled out, freeing me to be me.
I wonder how many of the kids I pass down the halls every day are going through the same things. I saw a high school girl sitting alone against the wall of the Middle School building with a sketchpad and pencil, deeply engrossed in whatever sketch she was doing. I see the same trio of senior girls always hanging out together, always sitting next to each other in their classes2, and always going home together. Ten years from now, will they be as close as they are now? I know I’m not as close with my high school friends anymore, so I don’t know.
High school is a time of discovering who we really are and who we choose to be. We’re friends with our friends because we happened to share the same classes or we lived next to each other or we played the same sports together. Later, though, we’ll make friends who share our same interests or who we met at some party and hit it off immediately or who we happen to fall deeply in love with and marry. Except for that last part, this is how it’s been for me. I know of some high school friends who have continued to be friends, who went to college together, who live together now. That’s amazing. Obviously, we’re all different, but I’m still curious to know who some of these kids will grow up to become.
I want to talk to and get to know these kids because I feel like I have some wisdom to impart to them. I’m not entirely sure why I want to, but I do. Maybe it’s because I’m 28 and I want kids of my own. Or maybe because I don’t have a social life and I just need to go out with some good friends and have fun. I don’t know.