And this week’s topic is jealousy. Jealousy is a ridiculous topic. It’s a fantastic topic, but it’s a ridiculous one just the same. Ridiculous because it’s so completely broad, but fantastic because everyone’s got something to say about it.
Everyone gets jealous, it’s human nature. We all wish we were something or could do something that we can’t do. It doesn’t matter how beautiful or talented or how much stuff we have there’s always someone with more or in different ways. Personally, I’m jealous of anyone and everyone who’s had experiences different from mine. No one can be everything; but often times we think that people are. There is no more time which this is more prevalent than in High School.
I went to an all girls school; from second grade up until I graduated. I was given explanations as to why my parents thought this was necessary or even a good idea, mostly because boys apparently took all the attention in public schools. All the bad kids got the focus and the mediocre slipped through the cracks. That sort of thing. I’m pretty sure the main reason was because my grandmother decided to pay for it. That always helps.
And I’m aware that my education was not lacking. When I got to college I tested into English 110. This was your basic English course. It wasn’t like I was advancing to anything extraordinary. It was just the first English class on the menu. Before 110 it’s basically remedial. It didn’t seem like any sort of accomplishment, just the norm. But there were a few people that seemed overly impressed by this feat. And when we started peer editing in the class I was straight up appalled at what people considered all right to show to others. Like… they’d never learned basic spelling or grammar. So I know that on some level I was receiving the education they had promised me. But at the time I couldn’t help feeling like I was slipping through the cracks just like I was supposed to be fearing would happen in big bad public school. I was a C student, I’ve always been a C student, and that’s difficult because in the environment where I was raised I learned to believe this was because I wasn’t smart enough, I just wasn’t applying myself. I was a little fish in a tiny pond and I always assumed that was all I could be. Now maybe my fancy private all girls school was good for me because they were continually on me for being not good enough. Maybe it was good that they expected so much of me, but it felt awful when I failed.
I’ve always felt fairly sure that private school was not the place for me. I felt like maybe if I had been allowed to sweep along the river of what I considered “normal” then I would have been alright. I thought that even then, but I was just too damned chicken to say anything about it. So, I continued on a path I was convinced was wrong for me. A path that gave me few options. Schools like mine are very big on empowering women and telling us girls that we have the ability to do anything we want; the sky is the limit. But there were still certain paths we were meant to take. Good paths, maybe, paths where we would succeed, but just as debilitating as if having no options at all. We would get into a good college, do well, graduate and get a job where we’d thrive until we were these high powered women we were always told about. Or, of course, we could get married and have kids. Or both. The point is; girls from my school succeeded. They make things of themselves. Achieve great wonders. They do not end up like me.
However, the most resounding problem I had with my high school education was it’s complete and total ignoring the fact that eventually, when we joined the world, we were going to have to interact with other people. I watch movies and I read books, so I was keenly aware of the fact that I was only being exposed to a certain type of person; but being aware and being exposed are two vastly different things. I got to college and there were two things I was very poorly prepared for; boys and antisemitism.
Boys were, clearly, another thing I was aware of but had nowhere near the level of experience I should have had under my belt by the time I hit eighteen. I had very few boys that were friends and even fewer boyfriends. They still had that sort of glow to them, the unknown. This could have clearly gone one of three ways. The first being what I assume my high school was hoping would happen; I’d easily drift from one to the other and boys would become a natural part of my existence. Second, I could have morphed into a massive slut and tramped it up all of the sexy campus of Ohio State’s Mansfield campus. It wouldn’t have been surprising, over-saturation in the unknown and all. Or third, I could become a complete recluse because I simply did not know how to behave in front of them. I was taught that women could do the same as men, but showed that boys were special and they need to be set apart from school and social activities and all that. I don’t think this was the intention, we did have very lame socials and dances but, again, it was a certain type of boy we were introduced to. I never dated anyone until rather late in my high school career and then only briefly. Because I didn’t know how to behave. And I still don’t. The residuals are still there.
And the anti-Semites… well, let’s just say that college was the first time I understood that there were more people to look down on and make fun of than I ever realized before. I knew there was racism and I knew there was sexism. I knew about all the isms but before I met all the people waiting to be my new friends in college it never even occurred to me that Jewish people were a group to have issue with. I had sort of assumed that went out of style when the Germans lost World War II. It blew my sheltered little mind.
I did things, in high school, to be different. I wore black lipstick and stayed apart from people. I formed a small group of friends who were as ridiculous as I was and together we concocted ways to set ourself apart. This included things such as dressing up like people from movies and TV just because we thought it was hilarious. I acted like a weirdo beause I needed to be something. Because I didn’t have the slightest idea of who I was, all I knew was that I wanted to be different from the people around me. All of this is normal teenager stuff from anywhere, I’m aware, but my problem was that I was emulating a copy. There was nothing genuine. I had no heroes, I only had movies.
So, what does any of this have to do with jealousy? Mostly because of the fact that I am jealous of anyone who ever had what I would consider a normal, functioning, life. I’m jealous of people who learned because they wanted to and not because it was forced on them. I’m jealous of people who got to socialize and have friendships and relationships with members of the opposite sex without it being some sort of miraculous event. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had because of my single sex education, but more often I find myself wishing that I hadn’t been so lucky. And that I wasn’t so jealous of everyone else.