For the first part of this series, check out The Elephant in Me (part 1 Elementary/Middle school)
Most people look back at high school and have okay memories at best. I guess I’m the few people that look back at high school and remember my time fondly. Yes there were issues. No it was not perfect. Yes there’s plenty that I would rather like to forget or do over. No I do not want to go back. But at the end of the day, high school wasn’t terrible to me. I still had my anxiety issues tied to my body image. But to say I didn’t start coming into my own during this time would be a lie. It helped that I changed schools in a completely different state. I could start over, completely. After the fiasco at Abbott, I welcomed the change.
Before high school started, I was on the football team. I knew a good group of guys from my class and more importantly I was already known by the upperclassmen. I was short in stature but not lacking in experience on the field. It showed and I was quickly getting the attention of coaches and players. I wanted to stand out for more than being the only black kid in the school (I should have mentioned that: I was the only black kid in my entire school of 317 kids). I let my playing ability speak for myself. Even though I was a big talker, I didn’t want to rub people the wrong way. I was starting on the JV and Freshman teams. In addition to dressing for Varsity on some occasions. My body didn’t really seem to matter a ton to the team. I was a dynamic contributor on both teams. Flying around the field making tackles left and right. I remember very fondly one JV game I stripped the ball away from the carrier while he was stood up by two of my teammates. I felt accepted for who I was finally and not what I looked like. Then during a freshman game, I tore my meniscus and PCL. I must not have noticed it too much because I finished the game but while driving home with my parents, my knee ballooned to grapefruit size. I went to the doctor a few days later and he gave me the news. I needed surgery and my freshman season was done. I remember being upset because I only started 3 games. As soon as I was cleared to start rehab, I almost broke myself getting better. I would rehab for 2-3 hours twice a day. I found a new love during this time that would end up changing my life; the weight room.
As I mentioned before I still had some body image issues in high school. Freshman year was a big step in the right direction for me however. Being 14 years old, I lived and died on people’s opinion of me and I wanted the approval of my peers. To my surprise, my classmates responded positively. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I was called cute by a sophomore girl for the first time. Receiving positive responses to me just really helped my confidence out a ton. Being in the weight room helped me not only in my performance on the football field, but overall with my confidence in myself. I have always been bigger, but to have strength behind that size was starting to shape my identity as a person. As I went throughout high school getting stronger, more agile and better looking consequentially, my confidence grew. I began to identify myself by more than my looks. I was a good athlete, a decent student, a great friend and so much more than what I looked like.
If there’s any lesson in my tales from high school it’s this: find something non looks based that defines who you are. Explore interest and have fun in the new experiences you discover.
I know this isn’t the most in depth but I promise my part three of this series will be really long and drawn out.