I have been home since the middle of May. For me, home is a suburb in southern New Jersey. I've done a lot of the regular getting home stuff. I got a hair cut, I've realized that all my new books will never, ever, ever, fit onto my bookshelf, and I've reacquainted myself with the family pets.
A few days after I got home an interesting thing came in the mail. Now, to refresh your memory I'm an early entrant. That means I came to Shimer without a high-school diploma (though I'll be getting one in a few weeks). That means I left my high school at the end of my junior year, which confused a lot of people. I think mostly they're still trying to figure out if that was a good or bad thing. Well, I enjoyed my year at Shimer, so I think it was a good thing. Either way my status as a strange drop out who is going to college has been confusing people at my high school all year.
For example, I got a student ID. Well, I'm not enrolled at my high school anymore, and I didn't go to get my picture taken. They pulled my senior portrait picture however and an ID showed up for me in homeroom. My sister took it home for me. I've also made honor role every single marking period. Thanks, but I'm not taking any classes to make honor role for. Probably I slip through the computer in just the right way to make honor role. Another thing I discovered is that I won't be in my class year book. This is funny because I will be graduating with that class (though I see no point in walking with them). I'd put me in the year book, but I guess that isn't my choice.
So I didn't get into the year book. What I did get was an invitation to the Academic Brunch for high achieving seniors. I was a little conflicted. I am a high achieving senior. I went to college a year early, and I've enjoyed academic success here at Shimer. Unlike the bumper sticker, and the ID and all the other mistakes they'd made I felt like I sort of deserved this one. I also wasn't sure if it was a mistake. Only a couple hundred people were invited to this thing so I thought, briefly, that maybe it was meant for me.
It turned out that it wasn't. It was a mistake, they meant to send it to my sister but printed my envelope instead. It is the kind of thing that happens when you and your twin sister go to the same high school and you drop out. But when I found out that they had made a mistake I felt kind of upset. Why don't I get recognized by my high school for being successful like my sister?
We've certainly done different things, she stayed to make it into the honor society and do other senior year things. I dropped out. But I dropped out to go to a small liberal arts college, and I had to qualify for this program, and I made Deans List and I've done really well here. But no one in New Jersey really knows that, and in all honesty my high school doesn't care.
So this really brings me to my point. I loved my year at Shimer. And I don't regret being an early entrant at all; it is one of the best things I have ever done for myself. But, what I've done has created a separation between me and my school, me and my town, and me and my family. I didn't go through senior year with my twin sister, we won't be going to prom together. Believe me, it has caused some tensions.
I think tensions like these are felt by all Shimer students as they return to their homes. All of us were a little different to begin with and we've just spent months amongst each other. It has changed us. The problem with going home is that no one knows this, they sense it but instead of rushing in to discover this new person you are, they stomp off offended.
And if you are used to being at Shimer, where people actually listen to you when you talk, and are eager to discover things, this is a disheartening experience. I would recommend early entrance to anyone who really thinks it will be good for them, but it does create a level of separation, which I didn't anticipate. Being congratulated by your community is a really reassuring thing, graduating high school, and going to college are some of the few times you can reasonably expect almost universal support. Because of what I’ve done I don’t think I’ll ever quite have that again. I’m a half beat ahead of everyone in my New Jersey community and us getting back in step with each other isn’t really an option. I think that is a little sad and I’ve thought about it a lot as I’ve tried to adjust to home these past few weeks.
Now ultimately this brunch in honor of high achieving high school seniors is about high school students who survived a traditional senior year. For several reasons, I didn't. So these students deserve to be recognized and I wish them the best of luck. They have done something amazing by surviving high school. My hard work has been validated by a lot of people, Shimer, and some members of my family. Still I wish my high school would recognize me. It isn't the most well thought out or rational thing, but I still wish that the invitation had actually been for me.