Do We Ever Really Leave High School?
By Karen Ballum on February 20, 2013
Lissy Ryder, the main character in Jen Lancaster's new novel, Here I Go Again, never really left high school. She hit her peak during those four years and stopped growing and reaching. When she discovered there is life after high school it was a complete and total shock. While we may not all be like Lissy, I still see references every week online to things being just like high school. It begs the question, do we ever really leave high school?
A recent New York Magazine feature by Jennifer Senior suggests that no, we never leave high school. I found the article shortly after I finished the book and it couldn't have been more timely. I thought not only about my own experiences in high school but also about Here I Go Again. While a lot of things in the article resonated with me, one point in particular stood out in context to Jen Lancaster's novel.
"At 24, the princesses had lower self-esteem than the brainy girls, which certainly wasn’t true when they were 16. But Eccles sees no inconsistency in this finding. In fact, she suspects it will hold true when she completes her follow-up with the same sample at 40. “Princesses are caught up in this external world that defines who they are,” says Eccles, “whereas if brainy girls claim they’re smart, that probably is who they are.”
That snippet there, to me, summed up the whole novel. Lissy never really learned who she was until after her reunion. When she discovered that the freaks and geeks had better lives than she did she was stunned. Lissy is an extreme case of someone who never left high school, but through the book we also discover how high school shaped and influenced the lives of the other students. Without Lissy there to play the high school mean girl, their lives would have been very, very different.
Do we leave high school? I think that depends on how you choose to define it. Our teens years helped us all become the people we are today. I'm not sure we ever completely leave that behind, but I also don't think it needs to define who we are today and everything we do.
What do you think -- can we we ever truly leave high school?
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