ellen mcbee

She's always up to something…

Who I Was?

on August 25, 2015

Those of you who’ve been following me know that I write New Adult. I’m trying to be one of those people who are remaking the genre. I think “New Adult” encompasses a whole lot of works that aren’t romance.

Maybe it’s inevitable that I would have to write about high school…which as far as I’m concerned is “the part I had to get through to get to my real life.”

I don’t talk much about my teenage years because there’s not much to talk about. I went to school; I fit in there or not (usually not) for all the same reasons everyone else did. The weird thing is that looking back I don’t think I believed there was something wrong with me; I thought the problem was with amorphous “them”. For one thing, I was super quiet, and that goes back a very long way. I was the kind of quiet that made people either forget I was there, or think I was deaf, so I overheard a lot of things that were not strictly my business. People thought I was stuck up, or conceited, but really I was just very quiet. I was also left-leaning in a farming community, which just made me quieter. But I never accepted the idea that somehow I should change; I accepted instead the idea that I had to grow up and leave.

I know I have some readers who went to high school with me who are already steeling themselves for being attacked. Relax! I don’t think I was really bullied…well, there are some exceptions to that, but I think those people don’t read. They didn’t then, that was for sure! It was more that I was very different from most of the rest of you. More than that, I never really put myself out there to be judged and found lacking. Whenever I did anything unexpected, whether it was wearing a dress or speaking up about being put into an impossible situation (some of you know what that was about and I’m NOT going to discuss it again, except to say that no choice I made was going to be the right one), it seemed like a conspiracy to put me back into the niche you assigned me to. I stopped pushing my boundaries and trying new things because it didn’t feel like it was worth the effort to explain myself or try to get you to see me with new eyes.

At fourteen or fifteen I already understood how different we all were. Did you know how curious I was? That I could tell our lives were different and, though we had grown up together, I really, genuinely wanted to understand? I got to be kind of known for it in college; people portraying me in skits started every sentence with “I wonder…”. Know what else I got known for? I have really great legs. Even my knees are pretty. I’m a good friend, a terrific listener, a great mom, and I’m getting to be a good writer. Not just a talented one, but something even more important: a person who writes, every day.

I started this entry thinking I would write about who I was then, but that’s not really the point. I didn’t find the people who knew me and became lifelong friends until I went to college. There was a whole world out there; I knew it all along. And I don’t and never did look down on people who were happy with what they found back in Tennessee. It just wasn’t for me.

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One response to “Who I Was?

  1. Deb Warner says:

    Check out the Naples novels of Elena Ferrante.

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