They say high school is supposed to prepare you for college and that college should prepare you for life. However, I’ve found that the lessons that I learned at recess in elementary school were much more accurate than what they feed us now.
Let me explain.
- You learn of cliques… yes.. there are cliques even at the lovely (and completely unawkward) age of 7. Though you don’t necessarily pay attention to them, you know that there are certain people that you want to spend time with, and then there are the people who throw sticks in your general direction when the teacher isn’t looking. Either way.. you’re learning to base your socializing off of those you treat you better than that… unless they’re throwing sticks with you, then.. well.. it’s a very fine line.
- You learn the evils of the gossip mill. There must have been a million grapevines on my playground because if someone whispered everyone heard it; it’s also important to note that this is where you learn how things can get misconstrued. There was once in elementary school when I slugged a boy in the arm (he probably deserved it), and by the time it had made its way to the teacher, there were much more serious implications. Luckily, for me, the boy told the truth about where I had hit him.. for a second there it had turned into an awful game of telephone.
- You learn about the unfairness in life. One word. Kickball. You know what I’m talking about. Many of us have stood in that line waiting to hear the captains call our name out, but one by one, the group dwindles. People that didn’t necessarily play as well as you were chosen first because they were friends, and then, it got down to you and that other kid, ya know, the one that didn’t really want to play but they conned him/her into it so there would be an even number. The only thing going on in your head is, “Please don’t pick me last. Please don’t pick me last.”
- There is a caveat to this one… I’ve found that if you’re actually really good at said sport (or whatever), kids on the playground tend to overlook the fact that you’re female faster than adults do. You peg one kid directly in the head.. and you’re golden. Don’t try that as an adult.. that’s how people get sued.
- You learn that having a crush on someone is terrifying. Sure, once you’re an adult it’s scary… you’re wondering, “Is this the one? Will I screw this up? Are they going to dump me? Do they actually like me?” All in one thought process.. (overthinking FTW). However, when you’re young, it’s much worse. Possibly the only thing we have to base our “love life” on are Disney movies. By sending over the “Do you like me? Check: Yes or No” letter, you could be sealing your fate for happily ever after. Girls.. don’t act like you didn’t already start signing his last name in your binder. Playing MASH? You cheated so his name was circled. People worry about being heartbroken now, at least now you know it’ll get better. You’ve had the experience to be able to know that even if you take the risk, it won’t destroy you. But, then again, maybe it was better then.. “loving” without fear. Plus, holding hands with somebody is just so nice. 🙂 Go on now.. go hold hands.
- You learn that good friends are a MUST. When I was in 5th grade, I had short hair.. REALLY short hair. I didn’t care.. long hair took effort, and I really was more concerned with enjoying sports than fixing my hair. However, because of this, some of my classmates decided that it would be funny to call me “It.” They said that there was no way to tell if I was male or female, so it fit me better. My best friend at the time and I were in line to get some ice cream, and one of the boys in our class was being especially cruel that day and made some comment about me looking like a boy. My friend.. being the amazing girl she was.. put her arm around me and said, “Well, if she was a boy, I’d choose to date her over you any day.” Right there, ladies and gentleman, is a true friend. It’s not about saving face or what you can do for them, it’s about love, compassion, and trust.
- You learn to pick yourself back up. Though maybe the drama you experience now is a bit more serious than it was then. Who cares? If there’s one lesson in life that I’ve always cherished, it’s the one that shows you that no matter how bad it gets, it can always get better. Not to make you start singing the Frozen soundtrack, but let it go. Don’t let anything hold you back from your dreams. Don’t let anyone hold you back from anything. Sure, we’re all going to have baggage… but it’s how you store it that matters. You can choose to lug it around with you, or you can choose to vacuum-seal that junk and put it away. It’s not about getting some place.. it’s about the journey. Don’t let your past hold you back from being happy. Find yourself. Find what makes you happy… and when you find that, never let it go.
So there ya go.. a few lessons from a 90s playground. Go out and live your life! Find your bliss! Kiss someone! Join a nudist colony! Whatever! Do what makes you happy! Because as much as you can want everyone around you to be happy, you’re spending the rest of your life with yourself. If there’s ever a moment where you feel like there is no bouncing back, don’t give up. Sometimes fear holds us back from happiness, sometimes it’s heartache, sometimes we’re just being stubborn/stupid, but don’t let yourself wake up one day and regret what could have been.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain