today the class of 2018 at dupont manual high school graduated. today, i watched another class of brilliant minds walk across the stage, receive a diploma, and be inducted to the crimson alumni. and i am so happy for them.
in 2016, i watched another class, my class, walk across the stage and receive a diploma from the "top school in kentucky." i knew their faces, i knew their names, and i knew their brilliance. and i was so happy as i watched my classmates walk across the stage radiating their greatness.
i remember those months in eight grade frantically applying and anxiously waiting to hear if you had been accepted into high school. that sounds so strange, to have to apply to high school, but that's what we did. and i remember coming home and receiving a letter with red and black confetti inside. and i remember being so ecstatic to be accepted into the best school in kentucky, because it meant that you were going to get into a great college and be successful because you went to dupont manual high school. at least that's what they always told us. and once you received your letter, you still anxiously waited for your friends to receive theirs and celebrated when they did or cried when they didn't. but in all honestly, it probably would've been better just to have been rejected because then i would have gotten over it by now.
in 2014 after finishing my sophomore year of high school, i made a quiet and silent exit from dupont manual to st. francis school where i would complete my high school education. i told few people about my leaving and throughout junior year to even moments after their graduation, people asked if i still went there. (note: st. francis was fantastic, it was the right and best choice to be made.)
dupont manual high school was the first and is still one of the largest triggers of all of my mental illnesses and i transferred for the betterment of my physical and mental health. dupont manual high school was the darkest time of my life as of today, and yet it is still my biggest "what if" play.
i believe it exists as my biggest "what if" because i have this unyielding longing to have "dupont manual high school" printed on my diploma, which is frankly absurd because all associations with the dupont name did not apply to me. i was not the top of my class. i did not score a 30 or above on the act. i was not winning awards or titles for my school. there are many students who do not fit into these brackets either, but while enrolled, it felt like my core responsibility to uphold the esteemed recognition of the dupont name. i had to be great.
perhaps it's because louisville does this weird thing where when you meet someone you ask what school they went to - not college, high school because it matters for some reason. and when i tell people i graduated from st. francis they nod and tell me that they've heard of it and that it's a good school. but it's not manual; they know what manual is.
i guess the point of this is that i'm angry and i'm upset and i'm frustrated and i don't know why i am all of those things. i am still stuck and i've been stuck on the "what if i hadn't left manual" for 4 years and it's just getting exhausting. doing poorly at manual made me feel like a failure but somehow leaving and excelling at st. francis makes me feel like an even larger failure. i didn't graduate from the "top school in kentucky." i couldn't make it through; i wouldn't have made it through.
it makes me so mad because in everything i do i am a perfectionist. it has to be great. but great can be toxic so i'm trying to practice "good enough." it is good enough. and yet here i am writing this long and drudging post because it is stuck in my brain that i was not good enough to graduate from manual. i keep telling myself that the only way to move forward is to accept and forgive so that i can start to heal. there's no way in my heart that i can forgive dupont manual high school for how its affected me, nor should i have to forgive them. so maybe its myself that i need to forgive, but i just don't know how to do that. right now it'll just have to exist as my biggest "what if" and the only thing i can do is deal with it.