Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I was a teenage wallflower

I helped my mom move recently, and during that move I happened upon a box filled with my school photographs. Okay, the first-grade one (at left) was cute, but let's just say there were some really unattractive years caught on film (which I will not be sharing here). Even when I managed to get a decent haircut, master the intricacies of makeup and '80s big hair, and spring for some contact lenses, I still wasn't burning up the dating scene. I, like many of you out there in blogland, spent many a high school dance cast as the wallflower, pining away for that cute boy to ask me for a spin around the dance floor. Sigh.

With such a dismal dating history before heading off to college, it's a wonder every romantic notion wasn't squashed out of me. And yet, I never lost my romantic streak or my love for romance stories in books, on film and on TV.

I've been a writer long enough that I've realized many of us writers had less-than-stellar social lives in high school. We weren't the belles of the ball or sitting at the top of the popularity ladder. And quite often, we were the geeks, the nerds, the bookworms -- in other words, the people who did well in school and -- gasp! -- even liked it. I've come across this similar background in writers so often that I wonder if that type of high school experience lends itself to molding creative types. When all our classmates were out on dates on Saturday nights, were we reading and watching movies and daydreaming about our own happily ever afters? When you have an empty social calendar, do you daydream more? If so, I'm kind of glad now that I wasn't a date magnet back then. Of course, it sucked at the time, but I like the person I became in the long run. I feel very fortunate to be a writer and to have met so many fabulous writers, many of whom I now consider good friends.

What about you all? Do you think there's anything to this theory? Or has my brain short-circuited from staring at my computer screen for too many hours a day? :)

16 comments:

Caren Crane said...

Trish, I have to say that I spent a LOT of time as a tween and teen with my nose stuck in a book. I liked studying and enjoyed doing well on tests. I know, freaky! *g* I think reading widely (and those three years of Latin) really helped me on the SAT and ACT.

It also probably contributed to the "different" way I think. But, like you, I think that's a good thing! If we were all social butterflies, who would chronicle the pain? *g*

Tawny said...

*hanging head in shame*

I hated school.
I loved to read, got good grades when I showed up, but hated the peer games and drama.

Did I mention I loved to read, though? LOL

Trish, that picture is precious! You are so cute!! My fave is still your 80s big hair shot though ;-)

Joan said...

Ahhh...you're such a cutie pie!

I know that having a social calendar covered with dust led me to daydream more...imagine the HEA's in my future.

Heck, it still sustains me :-)

Anna Campbell said...

Trish, weren't you the most gorgeous little thing? If I were a teacher, I'd just look at that expectant, eager little face and know I had my dream student!

I was an utter disaster at high school. Hated school. Hated myself. Hated everything. Except the library. I LOVED the library. Even more I loved the romance novels I read incessantly. When people say they want to be young again, I gag! Seriously. Twenties? Twenties were good. Thirties were better. Hey, forties rock. But teenage years? I think Vlad the Impaler invented them on one of his more creative days in the torture chamber! I've actually heard a lot of really famous writers say that being a bit of an outsider helps when you write. I must say my experience is that a lot of my creative friends weren't the centers of popularity at high school. In fact, most, shock, horror, were the same nerdy, misfit geeks that I was (or at least a version of same).

Trish Milburn said...

My people! :) And Karen, Vlad the Impaler? LOL, that's classic.

Tawny, the '80s big hair was funny, and the younger pictures were cute, but OMG, from about 5th grade through my sophomore year -- hideous! Even my dear hubby eeked at one of them. :)

You know, I bet Joss Whedon wasn't a date magnet in high school, but he SO COOL now!

MaryF said...

You are SO CUTE!!!!!

I actually hung with a group of oddballs in HS. It was great fun. And I married my HS sweetheart.

Anna Sugden said...

Awww Trish - what an adorable picture!

I loved reading too ... anything and everything (trust me, some of the everything would have shocked my parents!). I enjoyed the bits of school I was good at ... hated the peer games and social nastiness.

Being at an English boarding school was both good and bad. I was always the odd one out. I lived in the US, so had different references to the other girls. Especially the upper class ones.

But, at home, I had a great time with a bunch of other kids who were in the same boat - our parents all worked for the Wold Bank and we all went back to boarding school in the UK.

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

I was a "bad girl" in high school. I smoked, drank, partied--then I grew up and went on to college. I didn't party there I think because I did all that silly stuff in HS. Even at the hight of my rebellious teenage years I was always reading/writing since I loathed TV. So, I think there is something to the bookworm/geek thing among writers.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Trish, fun post! And weren't you a cutie? Love that photo.

I'm not sure whether we were all wallflowers or just introverts, happy spending our spare time reading? When I was a child I lived in a neighbourhood where there weren't any other children to play with so I used to read a lot. I would never choose a book over hanging out with my friends, but there were only so many play dates you could have in a week. The habit carried over into high school. I never thought of that as geeky, though. Hmm, maybe I should revisit that opinion!

jo robertson said...

Great topic, Trish. I don't know if there's truth to it, but it SOUNDS right. I always think when a girl's not bogged down with the whole dating, boy-girl, angst thing in high school, she has a chance to get to know who she really is at an earlier age than most.

My husband always says, "A late-blooming daughter is God's gift to fathers."

jo robertson said...

Oh, yeah, Tawny, I'm so with you on Trish's big hair pic. It's precious!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Trish!

I do think you're right about the teen years/geekdom/writer connection. At least to some degree or another. Once a reader, always a reader, even if you grow out of the geek part. Ha!

Anna said: "But teenage years? I think Vlad the Impaler invented them on one of his more creative days in the torture chamber!"

Amen, Anna!

Had to laugh though since I was an introvert in grade school and read all the time, then grew into an extrovert, but still read all the time. Ha! Helped that my Dad was a librarian. Grins.

Trish Milburn said...

Anna S., your teenage years sound interesting with the boarding school experience. You're like a YA novel come to life. :)

Jo, LOL on what your hubby said.

Mary, that's sweet that you married your HS sweetheart. And since I've met him, I know you done good. :)

Anitra, you were a bad girl? I was always too chicken to even think about being a bad girl.

Christine, I enjoyed hanging with my friends too. Of course, we lived in a small, rural area, and there wasn't much to do.

Jeanne, I have the hardest time picturing you as an introvert.

Mel Hiers said...

Hiya Trish!

I definitely think there's a big something to your theory! When I didn't have my nose in a book, I was Fat Chick With Piccolo in the marching band and squad leader for the academic superbowl. Definitely not social butterfly girl. As an adult, I love my geekery and wouldn't trade it for anything! :-)

Savanna Kougar said...

Wow, Trish, take me back to Anna's Vlad the Impaler days. I was definitely the Outsider, unless someone needed help, academic or otherwise, they'd ask me. When I was fifteen I got fed up with the whole hypocrisy 'social clique' thing that was high school. It was just a prison basically, designed to keep everyone intellectually suppressed. I got into a short-skirt battle with the 'authorities'. It's a long, long story. Suffice it to say the kids who drank, smoke, got into trouble, hey, the cheerleader who got pregnant, well, they didn't get suspended. So, I never finished high school. I just went on to college, where I learned what I wanted, and developed intellectually how I wanted.
Trish, that is an absolutely adorable picture of you. So glad you let us enjoy it.

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Trish, great blog. Takes me back to those awkward years. I loved to read but wasn't the sort who always did well. I didn't ever quite fit in. Like the heorines in my stories, I always felt a little weird and different to everyone else. Reading was an escape for me, I think.