High school graduations, and graduations in general, are a big deal. They are times to celebrate. They are times to look back. They are times to move forward. And, in our consumerist culture, they are times for presents.
For my high school graduation, I got lots of gifts. I was privileged to grow up in middle-class America where my family, friends, and friends of my family had the economic ability to buy presents. But, the best present I got was one that I gave to myself: permission to cut people (“friends”) out of my life. Permission to make them not exist in my world. I promised that for select individuals, friends since elementary school, I would leave for college and never look back, never email, never chitchat if I ran into them in the store, never accept invitations while home on Christmas break to see them. Never.
When we talk about bullying in America, we think of bullies being these others that wander school halls or troll Internet sites. They are the mean kids. Often, the popular kids. We never talk about them being our friends or our kids’ friends. But, as people like to say (partially excusing the bullies of the world), kids are mean. Sometimes, kids are mean to their own friends, sometimes kids are bullied by their so-called-friends. I was.
I had some great friends in high school, some who still stand amongst my best friends today. That said, finding the strength to get rid of this dead weight and value myself more as a person was an important lesson. Truth is, I have never looked back and am a more balanced person for it.