In my Writing and Researching about Religion class, we practiced a technique called Freewriting, where you are given a topic and then you just sit down and write about anything that comes to mind when thinking about that topic. I REALLY enjoyed this, which is rare. I never enjoy writing exercises. School Lunches--the topic given to us-- brought back a flood of memories that I've spent years repressing. So many things came to mind: the segregation between those who bought and those who brought their lunches, finding seats, how a good lunch experience set the tone for your mood the rest of the day, and the rules for making not just and acceptable but an excellent lunch at home. However, as I started writing, I was surprised where it took me. There are so many things I could say about school lunches, but for some reason there was one in particular that I couldn't suppress. I don't really have much to write about these days, so I thought I would share what I wrote.
Aside from recess, lunch time [in junior high] was the most miserable part of an introvert's day in school. Precious little was more lonely, uncomfortable, and even humiliating as not knowing who to sit with. Being friendly to everyone tended to be a curse at lunch time, because all of the social rejects would somehow successfully seek you out. I had many friends, but they were all in different "groups," and in junior high hell would freeze over before the "smart kids" ate with the "band kids" and so on. Not mention that all of my friends bought their lunches, while I brought mine from home everyday. No, at lunch time it felt as if I didn't have a friend in the world. I would purposefully go to the bathroom and take my time, trying to let the other kids filter into the cafeteria and pick their seats. It was much easier to ask to sit next to someone I didn't know and eat in silence than to eat with the same social rejects every day. In fact, I never did tell them no--I was too kind (though now I'm grateful for that). So despite being able to fit in socially in the "real world" of the junior high cafeteria, I more often than not was invisibly lumped into the social misfits lunch table. But I survived it, just as I survived the countless other social injustices that occur in the awkward teenage years when it's a miracle that anyone can be a successful socialite.
Eryn told me that sounded sad... I must admit I was not feeling sad when I wrote it and I don't feel sad when I read it. I just have to painfully acknowledge how true that was for me in the sixth grade. I wasn't the first to experience dramatic lunch room seating situations, and I'm sure I won't be the last. I hadn't remembered any of these things though until asked to write about them... but I feel like there are a lot of lessons I can learn from the experiences I had in the cruel world of junior high. Surely the real world can't be worse, right?