a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.
I think I’ve been using this word incorrectly. Recently, I was going through my many boxes of possessions to try and find a prop for a video; a pair of fake glasses to be exact. While I was unsuccessful finding a pair of punched-out 3D glasses in my collection of odds and ends from my High School days, I was a little too successful in drudging up memories from my youth. Having to search through journals and photos of my past was a little heartbreaking, and I referred to this experience later as being “nostalgic”.
If the concept of nostalgia has an undertone of positivity, that is not what I felt.
High School was a rough time for me.
I realize this isn’t especially unique; most people have it rough in high school. I honestly don’t know many people who look back fondly at that time of their life. When I look back, I see a completely different person living as “Carly Ann”. I was a very inspired and creative girl but I had an atrocious arrogance and a hatred for the “popular” kids that made me depressed, disturbed, and at times, even dangerous to myself.
I wore A LOT of black, (especially under the eyes!). I sang lyrics from Sweeney Todd with a little too much enthusiasm. I wrote letters back and forth with my sister about how we hated our school and the popular girls. I obsessed over dark subject matter and actors and actresses who starred in all my favorite movies. I made it clear I didn’t care if I was liked and I acted like a complete asshole to my family and friends.
I was angry and hurt and felt thoroughly misunderstood by those around me, to the point that I completely ostracized myself from my surroundings. I truly felt like I didn’t have any friends. When I did stand out because of my creative efforts like piano performance and acting like Jack Sparrow on stage, I was teased. Even though it crushed me on the inside, I pretended like I couldn’t care less. It was a pathetic lie.
I’ve been truly blessed in my life to have the overwhelming support of my parents for my crazy ideas and career aspirations. I’ve been served a “you can do it” attitude for as long as I can remember and have been surrounded in nothing but praise. I know I’ve talked about this in previous blog posts before so I won’t belittle the point.
I’m not trying to ask for pity because I was “too supported” growing up; all I’m saying is that nowadays getting any kind of personal criticism can really affect me. Sometimes, it does more than it should and I come across as whiny or over-sensitive. I’m getting better but I definitely need more practice at getting criticism and maybe even getting trolled.
It builds character, right?
As I looked through photos of myself at age 16/17, I was filled with a sadness that I wish didn’t exist. It’s the same sadness I feel when I go into my old bedroom and I remember the many times I cried on the floor because I felt so alone, even though I was surrounded by the faces of the actors and actresses that I obsessed over. It’s the same sadness I feel every time I drive by my old high school, even though it barely resembles the building that I attended. Even driving the roads by my house in the same car that I’ve driven since age 16 gives me that sad feeling, and I feel the urge to start crying again.
I’ve processed a lot of what I went through at a young age, most of which I will not share online. After moving out at age 21, my new surroundings in Boston fostered a psychological exploration into the dynamic between myself and my family that illuminated many of my personal problems. I’m still dealing with some of these problems to this day and have made very strict choices in my life based on the discoveries I’ve made about myself and the reality of my relationships with my loved ones.
The repercussions of my ex-boyfriends wreaked a dangerous havoc on my self esteem and I see it in every photo from that time. I was dealing with guilt, self-loathing, body dismorphia, and heartsick confusion at a time where my emotions and hormones were especially volatile.
Needless to say, I’m glad I’m not in High School anymore.
The lessons I’ve learned from the years gone by have been incredibly valuable to my character and outlook on life. A lot of my memories are honestly quite comical when I consider how horribly dramatic I was. I try to find the humor where I can.
Some of you may know that I have a recurring character on my Comedy/Vlog channel who I titled simply, “16”. I felt so disconnected from the person I was at that age that I turned her into a character. Highly exaggerated of course, she is obsessive and angry and downright creepy. I use her to make light of what happened during those years, and to be honest about how much a person can, (and should), grow from their High School days.
While “16” is a character I have developed for entertainment, she is absolutely a coping mechanism as well. Finding humor and laughing about that time in my life is short-lived; I always return to that deep sadness. Nowadays, childhood is so fleeting and the realization of the cruelty in this world is causing more and more harm to younger people. What we go through as kids and teenagers sticks with us forever and I know I will always be trying to process everything that I went through.
In an effort to maintain this blog, I admit that some of my posts may seem to be “train of thought”-like or pure rambling. This one is a great example but honestly, after having that experience and reflecting on my feelings about that time, it was the only thing I really felt like I could write about. So here you go; a seemingly pointless article that captures just a moment in time.
Just to be clear, I’m actually quite happy today. I’ve set upon my to-do list and accomplished my goals swiftly and cheerfully. I feel really good, like actually, better than I have in a while. I think this just stuck with me and I find it fascinating that I can be so positive and optimistic while still feeling the negativity of all my possessions waiting for me in the closet.
I think it’s time to do a bit of purging.
But I will save a few memories of course, and preserve the humor and the laughs for my very silly character. So… stay tuned :)
In the meantime, here's a glimpse into what I was like at "16":