High school was an awkward time, and I was an awkward kid. (Source: Derrick Gainsforth 2002)

As a teenager I was always told that high school would be the best years of my life. I’m not sure where that idea came from, but it is certainly not a one-size-fits-all concept.

Growing up I was not really considered to be a kid who fit in with the crowd. I had to wear large, safety-grade glasses to shield that pale-pink adhesive eye-patch I loathed. It seemed to be a large sacrifice to make socially for an attempt to correct a minor case of lazy eye.

Rebounding from a reputation as, “the eye-patch kid” was difficult and my natural awkwardness didn’t seem to help matters. I took more than my fair share of bullying in elementary school. Subsequently, I spent my middle school years trying to reinvent myself. I tried on many hats, from a suburban, hip-hop wannabe to a guitar-playing rocker kid. I was determined to find myself in the crowd and I failed every single time.

My feelings of resentment towards the entire social structure of public education grew as I entered high school. I was feeling more depressed and I turned to self-deprecating outlets to comfort my pain.

I also began writing poetry as a way to release some of the worthlessness I was feeling. Poetry acted as a journal of sorts; the more I wrote the better I felt. As the months passed I began to identify more with the version of myself I saw in my poetry. My confidence grew and my self-deprecating behaviors dwindled as poetry writing provided the therapy I was in need of.

All the years I’d spent trying to fit in taught me it was OK to present myself in a darker, more poetic fashion, as long as I was being true to myself. The ability to release everything at such a vulnerable age is important and I can attribute poetry, in large part, as my saving grace.

Though writing made high school more bearable, it did not take away my distaste for its cultural hegemony. I was still that strange kid, simply trying to make it out alive. Through the three years I spent in high school, I wrote over 500 poems. Those words got me through the hardest stage of growing up. I would never say that I created my best memories in high school, but what I did create was art from the pain of social rejection. My words became my armor and the pen became my sword.

It is true that high school is where awkward children morph into premature adults. It is also fair to view the landscape of high school as a wild west of new experiences, but the best years of my life were not spent over a decade ago, they’re here, they’re now and they hopefully lie ahead.

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