Most people don’t expect you to change.

Like many others I’ve joined that social network Facebook.  It has been quite fun and interesting to reconnect with classmates from the early 1970s.  Observing how they (still) view me has been quite a lesson in “expectations.”  I mean I was seventeen years old when I left home.  I haven’t seen or talked to ninety-nine percent of the kids I went to school with since 1972!

I’ve always viewed myself as the Class Clown.  In fact in the seventh grade I was voted “Wittiest” in the scho0l Who’s Who contest.  Of course I now realize that the “Wittiest” is just really another way of saying that I was just the bigest smart-ass of the entire Junior High!  Mom really was proud of me.  

I never studied in school.  Never, ever.  Consequently my grades reflected the lack of seriousness with which I took my education.  I quit school after my sophomore year in high school.  At the age of seventeen I joined the US Navy and went out into the world to make a man of myself.  I left my mother, my father, brother and four sisters behind and off I went.

I played a little baseball but really excelled at track and football.  Those were the areas where I felt best.  After all there is no feeling quite like crossing that goal line or that finish line! 

Looking back at my youth I have come to understand that my shenanigans in school were just an attempt for a boy to get attention.  Any attention.  Heck getting called down to Coach Neblitts office and “getting licks” was better than being ignored.  However, being yelled at by Mrs. Massey during seventh grade math class one day was painful attention that I could have done without.  As a matter of fact that was in 1967 (I think) and I can still see (in my mind’s eye) me sitting in that front row desk with Mrs. Massey yelling at me, Mike S0-&-So you just keep making jokes.  You’ll find out the seventh grade is a lot easier the second year!”  I wish teachers and coaches were as educated (back then) as today’s educators seem to be with regards to children’s reasons for cutting up and stuff.   I will say though, Mrs. Massey was right… the seventh grade was easier the second time around.  😦

The reactions of my “friends” on Facebook has been, for the most part, pretty positive.  I do think that some of them sort of expected me to either be dead or in prison by now.  Although I never was into drugs or stuff like that.  One guy though kind of bothered me.  He sent me a friend request with a message, something like, “Hey, I remember you being so accident prone.  You nearly cut your finger off in shop class and had all those football injuries!”  I found that very odd.  I mean I did get three stitches in my finger from a cut on the band saw in eighth grade.  I did break my wrist playing JV football and I did have a couple of other minor injuries playing football but I never viewed myself as accident prone.  Maybe I was.

Now as I sit here at this keyboard at the ripe age of fifty-four I have come to realize that people with whom you have had no contact with (for more than three decades) expect you to be the same as you were as a young teenager.  They, of course, have grown and changed but that’s different.  They were the smart ones.  They were the talented musicians.  They didn’t have the challenging issues at home as (perhaps) others did.  Heck I even had one classmate that “unfriended” me because I questioned some of his political and social views.   He said he had spent all his life arguing and explaining to people and he just wasn’t willing to do that anymore.  Especialy to a high school drop out with a GED and various college credits.  I didn’t realize, at first, why that bothered me so but then I eventually came to understand the reasoning.  As a young boy I gave just about every adult I came into contact with a reason to give up on me.  With rare exception they did.  Even my football coach grabbed me by the scruff of the collar one night after a tough loss and kicked me off the team (coach Foste, I felt bad too!  All that cutting up on the bus was just my stupid way of me trying not to feel like I let everyone down…again).   I remember that night like I remember Mrs. Massey’s math class.  I must have walked up and down that dark street kicking a can with my football cleats on for three or four hours.  Then to add insult to injury he later decided to let the team vote to determine if they wanted me back on the team (Coward! YOU were the one who kicked me off coach Foster!)  Only three guys voted for me to come back onto the team (thank you Jim Phillips, Jimmy Pope and Mike Stewart). 

Any way back to how I finally realized why it was that my classmate’s Facebook “unfriending” bothered me so much.  As an adult, I don’t recall the last time I was out and out, point blank rejected by someone I knew.  Granted I don’t really know Stu but… I wonder who that says more about Stu or me?

The more things change, the more they stay t he same.

Any way if you are reading this and we went to high school together don’t worry.  I’m not stalking any of the adults I’ve mentioned here.  In fact I have also come to understand that they too were doing the best they knew to do at the time.  I have, on occassion, even come before the Lord on their behalf in the past.

So, in closing… you know that little kid who is always cutting up in class?  Don’t out-and-out reject him/her.  They need you more than you may ever know.

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5 Responses to Most people don’t expect you to change.

  1. Hayden Tompkins says:

    I may or may not be having it out right now with someone who thinks it is ok to make fun of me. He thinks it’s “teasing” and has no idea AT ALL why I am upset. (Typically I don’t even associate with people who make negative, needling remarks but in this instance I don’t have much of a choice.)

    I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes it is hard to understand how people perceive you. Even if you mean well it doesn’t mean that your words and actions will be taken they way you intend them to be. (Don’t I know that after blogging for two years!)

    mssc54 replied:

    Hayden: I think the biggest challenge is not realizing that we (individually) are not the only ones who can change. It it entirely possible and even likely that, over a few decades, there will be other people who have relized the path they were on only lead to destruction.

  2. Hobo says:

    Well Good buddy…….I have known you for many years and I can surely say you have changed. We will give all that credit to God.
    Your heart has definitly changed………I don’t know about the Personality but definitly the Heart. Though as crasy as our High school days were, I am thankful to have shared them with you and still share things still today. People only remember the way we were when they saw or spoke to us last. If that be High School or last week. Some people change early, some late and some never change.
    Love to All……….

    mssc54 replied:

    Hobo: I love you man. Thanks for being a true friend and voting me when it was so difficult. If it came right down to it I would jump on a freight train in winter time with you! 🙂

  3. Joy says:

    I’ve had to think about this before answering. I’m glad you decided to share this. It’s good to know about you. I’m not sure though if people expect you to change or in their mind, it’s just who you are. Does that make sense? When you leave school, you’re all still pretty much kids and I know I remember some of my old friends because of the things we did back then but more than likely none of us would do those kinds of things now. But it’s in our memory.

    I wrote about this same type of thing on my blog after I’d reconnected with some of my old pals on FB. I wondered “how” they remembered me because I did so many different activities and I’d hoped I wasn’t a stuck up jock type.

    It’s also funny how some people remember things or an event so clearly and others don’t remember it at all. I have a cousin who a few years ago remembered something and she was having the best laugh over it that I didn’t have the heart to tell her I didn’t know what she was talking about so I just kind of laughed with her. My brother and I also have different memories.

    This post made me get to know the inner you a little better. I think it’s my favorite post of yours.

    mssc54 replied:

    Joy: I’m glad you enjoyed this one. It was somewhat difficult to write.

  4. Des says:

    I’ll take the place of the guy who unfriended you;

    http://www.facebook.com/des.mcpherson

    mssc54 replied:

    Des: One of the odd things about Stu is that he is one of the very few guys that I actually remember. I think I was a jerk to him. Old grudges die hard I suppose.

  5. marlajayne says:

    Just gotta share this. My son gave me a book entitled The Four Agreements a few years ago, and although the concepts mentioned in it are simple, they are profound. My favorite is, “Don’t take things personally,” mainly because when people act like jerks, it hardly ever has anything to do with you. It has everything to do with them and the kind of people they are. That was so enlightening to me and gave me a fresh approach to dealing with arrogant, self-righteous, critical, etc. people. In my opinion, this person did you a HUGE favor by defriending you.

    mssc54 replied:

    Marlajayne: Thanks for that. I’ll have to remember that. I feel bad for the guy though. After all I am such a fantastic guy to have as a friend now. lol 😉

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