I write books about girls in high school, so I admit I do mentally return to those years as I’m sketching out the characters and getting the scenes down. I often get Facebook or Instagram comments from people saying they wish they could do high school all over again, but they always add, “With what I know now.” So true. One of my mom’s favorite movies is, “Peggy Sue Got Married,” which is a comedy about a woman who goes to her class reunion and somehow ends up going back in time where she’s in high school again, but this time with her current knowledge. It’s a great movie if you haven’t seen it and it really gets you thinking about how you would handle a chance to do it all over again.
I went to a class reunion over a year ago and it felt like going back to high school. I thought it would feel like just a couple years had passed since senior year. But when I walked through the front door, I immediately felt like I had back on my first day of freshman year: overwhelmed and slightly terrified as I wondered why no one looked familiar. I also wondered if I could get away with backing out the door without anyone noticing. It was a surreal feeling because sure, I’ve gone to places where I haven’t known anyone and I’ve even had to go into events where I’m speaking and they let me in the main door so I walk out in front as someone else is talking and try to fade into the wall behind me. So I’m used to having an uncomfortable moment and sometimes I even enjoy those embarrassing bits because I turn it into something that would happen to a teenager and use it for a story. But walking into my class reunion wasn’t just me mentally putting myself in my freshman shoes, I felt like I was back there on my first day and it was pretty overpowering. I think if more of my friends from senior year had attended I would have had an easier time easing into the party, but instead it was mostly friends from ninth and tenth grade there, hence why I was transported back to those days that weren’t as fresh in my memory.
I thought I would spend my reunion trying to recreate high school memories and reminiscing with the whole purpose of gathering material for my work. Sure, I wanted to relive a bit of those days, but I didn’t expect to feel plunged into those anxious feelings like a dip into icy water. But there I was with my eyes darting around looking for someone I knew other than the friend I had walked in with—imagine if I didn’t have someone to walk in with? I probably would have short circuited. Then I heard my name and a friend I hadn’t seen since graduation day (we’re Facebook friends) came over and gave me a hug. I’m not saying I clung to her like a life boat, but maybe. Quite possibly.
After that, I got my bearings and I started to remember more of what it was like to be a new kid in a school where almost everyone was coming from the same middle school whereas I was from the smaller private school where only about twenty-five of us had come over to the big public school. I suddenly remembered the few people who had welcomed me and those who, on that first day, didn’t reject me when I introduced myself. And of course, there were those who didn’t give me the time of day that first week and then later, acted like none of that happened.
So with all the forgotten memories suddenly flooding back, I did start to see it was my chance to do things over. Going in I thought I might reach out to some people I hadn’t gotten to know back then, but had connected with on Facebook. But, much like my junior and senior year where I had started to value the importance of a true friend, I realized quality was more important than quantity. I did try to say hello to everyone, but I spent time one-on-one with a few to learn more about their life than just finding out what their current job was, where they lived, and any other major life events. Doing that meant I got to have deeper conversations, which made me feel closer to them than just “liking” their posts on Facebook.
So what would I do if I got to go back in time to my high school years? I’d make more of an effort to get to know people beyond the surface stuff. My school was very into labels—both the social ones and the designer ones—and if I could go back, my mission would be to not only look past that, but to get rid of that way of thinking period.
Dating the It Guy by Krysten Lindsay Hager (YA contemporary romance)
Blurb: Emme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating, Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator’s son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture perfect ex, Lauren seems determined to get back into his life along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the it guy.
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About Krysten Lindsay Hager
Besides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels, Krysten is also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, and Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2). Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book. Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.
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