By Corinne Vance
In high school I played the role of the flirty, carefree, act-like-I’m-dumber-than-I-am girl. Lee Academy in Clarksdale, Mississippi gave me a role, and by golly I played it well. I cherish those fond memories of when I was able to display my star-quality talent, but it’s safe to say my days of performing are far behind me. THANK GOD!
In high school I had absolutely no idea who I was. I was a lost soul, putty to be formed by the hands of my peers.
Every person has a specific role to play: the class clown–loved in the classroom but never taken seriously elsewhere, the guy who is every girls best friend–envied by guys but not a blip on any one girl’s radar, the guy and girl with the best pad and parents–liked partly because they give us a cool place to go, and finally, the slut, the jock, the nerd, the goodie good, the player, and the list goes on and on.
This is no news to anyone; the part I am interested in is how each member is appointed their position.
Although from the age of 14 to 18, we are 110% certain of who we are as people; on the contrary, all we really know is the basic information any doctor would have on file. So one by one each member is shoved into a prescribed role.
And the world of high school begins…
Once you’ve got your title, there are no swaps. Your peers look at you and the first thing they see is your title–branded on your forehead–and that is all they are willing to see. Hard to change a stubborn person’s mind.
As high school comes to an end, all of its makeshift, lab rat students are finally set free. At last mature enough to see that we have been living in an experiment and now have the option of either erasing what once was our title and replacing it with whatever we choose, or holding on tightly to what was. I myself let go the second that diploma met my eager hand and my wrist was tickled by my tassel clapping in excitement. Halleluiah!
My re-transformation has been an eye opening, exciting, scary, leap-of-faith-with-your-eyes-closed kind of experience. And I have loved every minute of it. As I’ve gotten to know myself better, I have found lasting friends, gotten closer to God, and lived a life that is full of life. I still have much to learn about myself and that will always be the case, but I am no longer the flirty, 15-year-old girl I was before.
Although I am so aware of all of this, one thing I was not aware of was how strong that little town holds onto who I once was. I have changed since living in Oxford, but now who am I when I go back?
Over Easter weekend, when I was home, I started to notice the difference between who I once was and who I am now. It was hard for even me to see.
I am who I am now, but I was treated like who I was then. I even reverted to my former behavior. Briefly. People I grew up with don’t know the new Corinne; all they know is the Corinne who would get drunk at “lightline” and act a fool.
So, now what? How do you once and for all wipe away the label you’ve carried for so long? Unfortunately, I still have no idea. Small Delta towns have a crazy way of holding on and refusing to let go. It’s hard to leave, it’s hard to go back, it’s hard to not go back, and it’s especially difficult to change people’s minds. cv