Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)
Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Unseemly Insecurities of a Thirty Four and a Half Year Old

I remember back in secondary school, during those free periods, when I'd be clowning around with my friends, climbing out of windows and sneaking down into the bush to get up to no good, or nicking off in one of their cars to do a trip to McDonalds.
I would look back over my shoulder at the group of girls, sitting quietly, being studious, using their free time wisely, hitting the books, and generally just being Very Good. I'd look back and see them rolling their eyes at us silly boys, and we'd sort of sneer back at them.

It was a strange relationship, because on one hand I disliked them and their Goodness, and their seemingly Holier Than Thou Attitude, but on the other hand I sort of envied their self-control and level heads, and deep down really wanted their acceptance.

Fast forward fifteen or twenty years, I see schoolgirls at the bus stop of a morning, and those same sorts of feelings arise. They aren't even at school yet and they are already studying, heads buried in text books, or tapping away on a laptop, getting ahead on the geography essay that isn't even due until the last term of the year. They've probably been very sensible all weekend as well, putting in 5-7 hours each day, stopping only for a very sensible cheese and tomato wholemeal sandwich for lunch.

Even after all this time I feel that seem mixture of "grr, live a little!" and envy at their level of discipline and maturity. And also a pang of guilt for not applying myself more when I should have. In a lot of ways it seems like I haven't changed all that much in all this time. I still have that urge to rebel and be a goose, and I still simultaneously get angsty at, but also envy, those people who seem to have a lot of maturity and self discipline.

Who were you at school? Do you think you have changed much since then?


Pedro said...


Karen said...

Good girl all the way. The nerdy brainy type.
No. I wish I could lighten up more...

Gary Ware said...

I'm more worried about what's going to happen to a thirty four and a half year old who gets caught staring at school girls.
And when you've got a couple of teen age girls in the house you'll think a bit differently.

Deb L said...

Ben, you are making some very big assumptions about these girls (past and present). The girls at the bus stop are working madly because they DIDN'T put 5-7 hours in on Saturday. They looked like they were when their parents checked, but really they were on Facebook and texting their friends for most of that time. Now one is cramming for the biology test in period 2 and the other is working on the assignment that is due tomorrow that she has barely started but hopes her geog. teacher will give her an extension for if she shows him some hastily done work that morning and her brilliant smile (newly without braces of which she is very proud). That's what's really going on. Or at least, that's what I see because I spent a lot of my later years at highschool procrasinating and then madly catching up at the last minute. You see? You see what you think you see.

Ben McLaughlin said...

Gary, you make me sound creepy. I'm not staring, merely observing my fellow humans.

Deb, you make a good point. I guess to an extent I am seeing the situation thru biased eyes.

Ben McLaughlin said...

And I'm so thankful there weren't so many distractions back in my day, like facebook and blogs and the internet in general. I'd have been even worse off.

simone r said...

I used to want to be one of those girls. I teach them now. They hand everything in on time (or ask for an extension), they have edited out all the spelling mistakes, but their work is so dull.