I’m here to tell you a story about a young girl who got off a bus in the Big City (re: Toronto) with a dollar in her bank account (re: not really) ready to take on high school at the most magical place in the world:
And in case you’re wondering, that little naive piece of hot, acne-infested pubescence was me.
Yes, that is a picture from when I was in an opera. Yes, I did youth opera as a voluntary extracurricular activity.
However, what I didn’t anticipate was how unprepared I was for the ruthless 4 years ahead of me.
Not only did I choose to go to an arts high school, but I chose to major in musical theatre at said arts school.
You know what kind of people are musical theatre people??
PEOPLE LIKE THIS:
Now, don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends are musical theatre fanatics.
But then again… most of them are not.
I was simply not prepared for the fuckin’ Vietnam War-like conditions that awaited me in that graffitied building where people would try to snort ecstasy between classes (because LOGIC) and where, on my first day, a kid threw up in my French class because he’d drank a mickey of Jack Daniels.
It was 10am.
In that school, it was either kill, or be killed. DANCE OR DIE.
I would say “eat or be eaten,” but no one in that school ever fuckin’ ate.
Except for the visual arts majors. Because of the cannabis and such.
At lunch, it would be salads and chickpeas as far as the eye could see. And there I was, with my pudding cups, feeling like I’d landed in the middle of a Jenny Craig ad.
It didn’t take long before people noticed I was eating well over the 500-calorie limit for the day and started dropping hints whenever I got up in the middle of Geography to grab a quick Mountain Dew and a bag of Doritos.
It was a sad day when they finally broke me down, leaving me starving (literally) in the gutter (metaphorically), desperately clutching at my carbohydrate-filld past.
This attitude wasn’t only perpetuated by the students. In fact, the students were the smallest part of it.
The teachers were way worse.
It was common knowledge that one of the dance teachers had told her class, after showing them a particularly skimpy costume: “Next time you want to reach for that slice of cake, you better think twice!”
So you see, it was not a very healthy environment for a bunch of emotionally and physically insecure teenagers who still didn’t know what to do with their boobs (I’m speaking from a feminine perspective, here).
It could also have had something to do with the fact that they made us dance like common whores. For one show, I had to warn my family ahead of time that they would probably be shocked by what I’d be doing.
Which was basically this:
Luckily, I managed to turn it into something more like this:
The thing is, that I had trouble being “sexy.” What were supposed to be smooth body rolls and flirty lil’ booty shakes became something not unlike an epileptic seizure. And apparently musical theatre is a “sexy” thing to do, now.
I went into the school with little-to-no knowledge of the art of dahnce. And I had no freakin’ clue how to be sexy.
I gave it my best effort…
Not only was this school a fuckin’ feeding ground for anorexia and slut culture, but people were CONSTANTLY trying to outshine one another. This was the place where your friends were also your competition. Backstabbing and shit-talking was everywhere. People sucked up to teachers and even drunk-texted them (because this was a m****f***in’ classy establishment) in order to get call-backs and roles and solos and whatever the fuck else was important to them at the time.
IT WAS LIKE GOING TO SCHOOL WITH THE CAST OF GLEE.
It was all about getting noticed. And I completely understand that this is what it’s like in the professional world, but we were just kids! For fuck’s sake, I’m still a child! (See previous blog post.)
The teachers basically put a bunch of attention-depraved chihuahuas into an arena and yelled: “TO THE DEATH!”
I tried to get noticed, I really did. In 9th and 10th grades, I sang my lil’ heart out with mediocre renditions of “I Have Confidence” and “On My Own.” By Grade 11, I had gained a “who the f*** cares” attitude, and just kind of went through the musical motions.
The breaking point might have been when they made me wear this:
Even though I consistently wore mis-matched camo-patterned ensembles and miniskirts from Hot Topic (but that’s another story entirely), this was a bit much.
I would also like to point out that I did not cover my friend’s face in this photograph, because she specifically asked me not to. Because she wants to become famous.
But it was people like that who got me through my high school years. Granted, a lot of them sucked, but I met some people at that place that I’ll never forget and will always remember (THANKS, CAPTAIN REDUNDANT!)
High school sucks. If it didn’t suck for you, then you were doing something wrong. They’re four extremely awkward years full of heartbreak and broken dreams and weird body odours.
Not high school:
But the friends you make and keep during those years are so important. I’ll never forget how much shit we cried over, and how many times we snuck alcohol from our parents’ liquor cabinets and got drunk in each other’s basements.
To all you people who are still in high school:
Hang in there, because university is SO GREAT.
To all you people at an arts high school:
Unless you’re enjoying it. In which case: more power to ya! (But also, how???)
And that ain’t ever gonna change.