High school is full of “memories”. Depending on who you are, these might range from the best party to the best musical, to the best game, or even the best grade. All of these aspects are important, and I for one will take away something from all of these different facets of the crazy thing called high school.
I, however, want to focus on the first: parties. I will never forget my first real high school party. The scent of vodka, the pretend drunks, and most importantly, the hookups of the night. I remember squealing with my friends as an awkward ninth grader, trying to pretend like I was happy, comfortable, or knew what was happening.
I had never kissed a boy. Well, I had never kissed a boy since “spin the bottle” in the sixth grade. But it was okay. I was not in high school, I would now kiss all the boys I wanted to, and in the end, be the one to end up with a boyfriend.
I can’t say that this didn’t happen. I can’t say that I didn’t learn (or pretend) to be comfortable with these actions: with kissing boys, and boys, and some more boys. Yes, I now have a boyfriend who is the love of my life. However, it took kissing a lot of boys before finding the boy, and while I live and I learn and I choose not to live a life of regret, I do in part blame this expectation and culture that requires high school students to kiss a lot of people in order to be deemed as “cool.”
I know my parents don’t understand this. I know this is considered a “generational thing.” Teen Vogue agrees with this noting the hookup culture as, “a generational thing. Everyone wants to be single—people go to prom with their friends—and hooking up is part of the lifestyle.”
But what is important is the idea that the scared freshman and even insecure seniors realize that the “highest number” on a list is not what it takes to be “cool” or the most popular. I for one, wish I had better understood this. The Guardian blogger sums it up: “Are you kissing them because it’s fun and sexy and you like it? If so, cool – keep it up. However, if you are kissing them because you have low self-esteem and want to feel better about yourself, or because you feel under pressure…that you have a rethink.”
I love the idea that most of my friends will go to prom with friends. I also love the fact that until finding my own perfect boy, I truly did have fun “building my list.” But it’s those who do it for the wrong reasons. Those lists of confused teenagers that get longer and longer not because they think it is fun, but rather because at the end of the night, they want to be the ones with the highest number when the “queen bee” of 10th grade demands an honest answer.
I am not here to judge. I for one hated those who judged me when my own “list” reached double digits. Yet, I know deep in my heart that some of those meaningless names were added out of necessity to fit a persona I now know is not me.
My greatest wish is that at least one scared freshman, the person I was not so long ago, knows that being cool is identified in more way than just the number of people on one’s respective “kiss list.” I promise in the end, that becomes clear. Have fun, live life, take advantage of every moment and make memories. Simply be aware of which ones should take precedence and which should be rethought. In the end, it is worth it.