An Atypical High School Crush

Sometimes a crush isn’t on the person, but rather the idea of what they represent. This is the case this week as we head back to high school. Nicole and Sarah of The Homance Chronicles podcast discovered they crushed on the same guy back in the day and will talk at length about who could very well be the grandfather of fuck boys, but until then I’d like to lament about a crush where the idea of that person and high school came together, or rather life after high school. Paige from Netflix’s ‘Atypical,’ this crush is on you! 

For those who haven’t yet watched, ‘Atypical’ is about Sam – a penguin-obsessed person on the autism spectrum. We follow him as he navigates high school, college, and all-around life as well as his family which includes his dad the EMT, his overbearing mother, and his track star sister, Casey. Then there’s Paige, a highly type-A personality who befriends Sam and later is his girlfriend. It’s a fantastic show, and I recommend the binge but back to Paige. 

We all have those moments from our childhood that stick out, and for me, I have a very vivid memory of one random day during kindergarten. I was sitting in the truck with my mom saying how I could not wait to leave my hometown. She said when I was 18 I could and mentioned the idea of college. The light went off in my head and from that point on I went above and beyond in terms of scholastic success. Clubs and whatnot? Yeah, I am not the go-getter like Paige, but I was as determined as her to make something of myself post-high school. 

Here’s the thing, life doesn’t always work out as you planned. It takes a fucking lot to make college work for you. For Paige, it was the weight of being so alone that drove her to drop out, move home, and work her way up the restaurant ladder. For me? I was burnt the fuck out once I got to college and honestly didn’t put as much of an effort into it because I just didn’t care. I’d accomplished not living in my hometown and that seemed like enough – until graduation. 

Unlike high school, college counselors only really talk to you about the next step if you walk your ass into their office. Same with having a professor guiding you. Honestly, I can’t tell you a single professor’s name I had during those four years…my bad! Without that hand to hold, I had zero ideas what the fuck was next for me and oh did I struggle. Hell, the struggle is still very real, and living in the age of social media where you can constantly see the successes of those you spent those formative years with…it can be a constant kick in the guts. Especially when everyone believed you’d have some sort of success in life. 

However, in its final season (WHY NETFLIX, WHY?) Paige says that life is unexpected and again, doesn’t always go the way you planned or could have even imagined. Well, something like that, I watched it at 2am through tears. Her words hit and I thought, I have to try and forget what should’ve been and focus on what is and what still can be. Not every honor roll student was meant to go on and be something right out the gate. Perhaps I stumbled at the starting line after high school, but I have to hobble my ass to that finish line with my head high no matter what I realize I’m the master of (master of, you have to watch – it’s a whole thing). 

So thank you ‘Atypical,’ and Paige for reminding me that the idea of who’ll you’ll be during high school can change, and that’s fucking okay.

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