Whoever it was that said "Time heals all wounds" was, most definitely, full of shit. Some wounds, many, most, never fully heal. Even if they do, in theory, there is most likely some sort of remnant, a scar, that remains forever.
For some reason, I decided to re-read my high school yearbook today. I genuinely don't know what made me do it. It has been here, on my bedroom carpet, amongst a pile of random detritus, for many months, if not years. It has been quite a while since I last perused it, as I quickly noticed after removing the thick layer of dust that coated its cover. Reading the comments, some from friends, some from passing acquaintances, some from folks that I hardly knew at all, I was forced to consider who I was back then, as perceived by others and within myself. I have to state now, once and for all, that those two people were COMPLETELY different. Well, maybe not completely. We shared a few characteristics. We were "smart" as defined by others and standardized testing. We were "sensitive" and "creative". However, that is about where the similarities ended. The "outer" Kari, the one on the surface, was S-H-Y and Q-U-I-E-T. She, seemingly, had very little to say and on the rare occasions on which she spoke, it was in hushed tones. However, the "inner" Kari was SCREAMING. She had SO very much to say but was too afraid to use her voice. She felt hideous, repulsive, even. She knew, just KNEW that nobody liked her, that if she disappeared from the planet, no one would give a shit or probably even notice. Boys, most definitely, did not acknowledge her existence, at least not until nearly the end of school, and then it was, of course, only for platonic reasons. As for the girls, there were a few, a very few, who saw MOST of her, who knew that she was secretly in possession of a biting wit and very, for lack of a better expression, "deep thoughts." She had very strong opinions about most everything but very rarely shared them aloud. To the rest of the girls she was, like to the boys, a nonentity. Perhaps they gave her a passing glance every now and then when they passed in the halls but she vanished from their thoughts just as quickly.
Now, let me state that this was all how I perceived my situation back then. I have been told, since, that my perceptions were slightly skewed. I had an experience in college where one of my former high school classmates, one of the "cool" girls who I barely knew, and I, shared a class. We got to talking, one day, I don't recall how it began, and somehow we found ourselves discussing said perceptions. For example, I shared with her the fact that I never attended high school parties for the majority of my high school career, not due to lack of interest but due to the nearly immobilizing fear that I would be ostracized for doing so. Hell, none of those people "knew me". I mean, sure, we had all gone to school together for many years, some for 12 years, but aside from knowing my name, they didn't know me or give a shit about my existence. What she said to me next caught my breath. She said, and I'm paraphrasing, something to the effect of "Are you kidding? We would have thought it was so cool if you had shown up." *THUD* Now, of course, I'm not sure who the "we" was, to whom she was referring. It could have been that she was speaking merely for herself. But, let's be honest, that would have been enough. If I had felt even the slightest bit of encouragement, I would have loved to have had that experience. I would have loved to have taken a deep breath, slowly exhaled, and walked into one of said parties, a clean slate, just waiting to see what adventures lied before me. But, I didn't. I was paralyzed by fear and their (who is "they" anyway?) imagined perceptions of me. I remained the "surface" Kari to all who's gaze happened to fall my way.
Now, over twenty years later, I am still paralyzed by fear. Well, I can't exactly say that. I am writing this, now, and sharing it with all who may be interested. Perhaps no one is but the important thing is, I am sharing it. I am not letting my fear keep me from expressing my innermost thoughts, even if they paint me in an unflattering light. I am still filled with opinions and ideas, still quite amusing, if I do say so myself, and still screaming inside.
I often think about things that have happened in my life, consider what I would change, and I'm going to be honest, it is a LOT! Some folks say, "I wouldn't change a thing. If I did, I wouldn't be where I am now." I don't believe that, though. I mean, yes, of course, you wouldn't be EXACTLY where you are now, not at this precise moment in time, but I do feel like the important things, the things that define one's soul, the life-altering experiences that make one who one is, would still happen, perhaps on a different schedule, in a modified way, but ultimately, we would end up where we were supposed to be, eventually. Do I wish I could re-do high school? Absolutely. If I knew then what I know now, I would have been far less afraid. Can I apply those changes to my present self in my present life? A far more difficult question and one I hope to answer in the days, weeks, months and years to come. Like all of us, I am a work in progress. My story will continue and if you care to join me on my journey, I'll gladly save you a seat.