Stuck in the Middle

Stuck in the Middle

Senior spring of high school is supposed to be fun, that’s all there is to it. Finally, you are finished with applications for colleges, and your grades have been sent in. For once there is time to relax, to unwind. However, I began my spring term filled with dread because it meant hearing back from the colleges I had applied to, months earlier. What was eating at me wasn’t the anxiety of getting into one particular college or another, but wondering what would happen to my boyfriend and me when the time came to choose colleges.

We had been together for three and a half years. We even were referred to by some of our friends “the married couple.” Now, after being together for what seemed like a monumental time span, we were being asked to plan separate futures. We talked about what we might do, thought about it, worried about it, but throughout the year, I had the feeling that where I would end up next was out of my control.

Even applying to many of the same colleges left us with no guarantee that we could still be together. Everything was up to the college admission officers. It seemed that our final choice would come down either to going to the best schools for us individually and trying a long distance relationship or to settling for a safety school that kept us together. It felt like a long shot to think that we’d be accepted somewhere that we both loved.

It wasn’t fair, I thought. We had come to a point where we had to break off connections and start fresh. I wanted more say in the matter. I felt as though my relationship was perceived, by most adults and many friends, as inconsequential because I had fallen in love in high school. It surprised me to hear from classmates who had significant others that their relationships weren’t important enough to worry about in comparison to getting into college. I saw their reasoning, but it was hard to understand how they could have such certainty about their priorities. By being expected to make a mature decision about my future while ignoring my boyfriend, I was being treated simultaneously as an adult and as a kid. This was a contradiction that I refused to accept; yet knew I had to go along with. We applied to college, and we waited.

ALL OF my angst over the transition to college got me thinking about how high school relationships come loaded with contradictory expectations. Throughout high school, I felt that I was treated by my peers as being far more sexually mature than I was. Their assumption was that as a teenager in this modern world, I should approach sex in a way reserved for adults. In other words, I should have sex at the very beginning of a relationship or even without a relationship.

The problem was that I didn’t have the experience of an adult. I had learned about sex from school, parents, friends, but I didn’t truly know how the repercussions of sex might affect me, mentally or physically. I have had friends who...

tote | University of California Press Lima