Did high school actually happen? Or did I dream up soffes, Code Red, and Carson Daily?


Back when I had a Spark Notes account and was proud to call myself “Miss Cox”* (wait for it), I did my best to stay in the good graces of my peers, but still learned the valuable lesson that haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. [Taylor Swift’s new album is fabu, am I right? Right.] Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t suppress my proclivities for asking an obnoxious amount of questions in class, singing one notch too loud in chorus, and delivering the morning announcements in the manner of a serious news anchor. Likability score: off the charts.

I’m making it sound like everyone loathed me in high school. I don’t think that’s true, unless I have an incredible sense of self-preservation and have been lying to myself all of these years. We’ll stick with the former. I wasn’t an outright disaster or mean girl, but as with the majority of teenagers, I’m sure much of my behavior was misinterpreted or accidentally annoying. While some of you may be predisposed to sweetness and perfection, the rest of us have had to learn to tame our undesirable tendencies over the years- in my case, tendencies of 15-year-old Shannon to make her voice distinctly heard and be so socially awkward that it came across borderline offensive. Since 2006, I’ve learned that basically nobody wants to hear a passionate opinion unless they already agree with it, and found friends who were patient enough to transform my awkwardness from borderline offensive to simply entertaining. Thanks, guys.

So why the history lesson about Shanny the Granny’s youth? To demonstrate two points that will make your heart a lot less bitter, ultimately helping you more easily enjoy this crazy thing called life. A.) People can change and B.) Everyone has a story.

Note that I say people can change. Not people do change. My rose-colored glasses aren’t unrealistically thick. However, when discussing someone you didn’t like in a previous stage of life- be it high school, college, a previous job, etc.- your ability to rant about that person for more than five minutes tells me more about you and less about them. A self-aware person who actively works on his/her own personal growth looks back at old nemeses and assumes that they, too, have bettered themselves over time. But when the thought of a now-stranger still gets the ole heart racing, odds are Bitter Betty has slacked in the soul-searching department, herself- thus projecting a lack of growth onto that past irritant. Of course it’s wishful thinking to believe that the girl from summer camp 2002 isn’t still a total prima donna, but along the lines of innocent until proven guilty, life is way less stressful if you adopt the principle of changed until proven the same. Hopefully you’ve progressed enough, yourself, to support that mantra.

On to point B. Everyone has a story. I’ve touched on this before, but a reminder won’t hurt anyone. People don’t come out of the womb stuck up, idiotic, and abrasive. Though certain personality traits fall under Lady Gaga’s slogan Born This Way, most are learned- or at least perpetuated- by one’s environment. Particularly in adolescence, home lives are often swept under the rug at school, revealed only through aggravating behavior. So keep in mind that there is a reason for all behavior, which does not serve as an excuse for poor conduct, but should at least inspire a bit more patience in our reactions- particularly in retrospect. For example, anyone who reads THIS (<– click) might get a better idea of why I was such an odd duck in high school.

Thanks to the young lady at my college homecoming this weekend whose passionate tirade about a girl she hasn’t spoken to since 2008 inspired this blog post. I hope you read this, but have no idea that I’m referring to you. That would be awkward.

*I attended [Frank W.] Cox High school, who beat Varina High School (Vuh-Rye-Nuh) in the 2004 volleyball state championship. Cox beat Varina. You can’t make this stuff up.

miss cox

Miss Cox 2006. Killin’ it.