Remembering What I’ve Tried to Forget

In the first version of Unofficial Student Transcripts, written and published as an ebook in 2013, I didn’t include any accounts of my student life between the ages of 9 and 17. But why not? Those years, which represent almost 20% of my life, are very important. That’s when I shifted away from being a purely physical kid to an intellectual who had quirky interests in prison memoirs, Communist China and intellectual histories written by Simon Schama. It is also when, unwittingly, I became interested in feminism. If you had asked me, I probably would have rejected the label of feminist, but even so, in high school I did a research paper on the rise of alcoholism among 1950s (white) suburban housewives, using Betty Friedan and The Feminine Mystique as a source, and wrote a school newspaper article about gender discrimination in P.E. classes.

Many important things happened to me during those years. I started swimming and playing the clarinet. I discovered a love for ideas and deep conversations. And I lost my voice at the beginning of 7th grade, becoming too afraid to order at a restaurant or speak up in class. I never quite recovered. Later this loss, which is very common for adolescent girls as they grow up, would inspire my focus on feminist theory as a tool for developing agency and “finding a voice.”

The easiest answer as to why I didn’t include any accounts from these years: I didn’t have the archival material to support accounts of my primary and secondary school experience beyond first grade. But that answer ignores something that, when I first worked on and published UST, I was unwilling to admit: I’m embarrassed by my adolescent self and I try not to remember her.

As a teenager, I was a bit obnoxious. Loud. Always hamming it up for an audience or a camera. Immature. Awkward. I was reminded of this Sara while watching some old footage of me in high school last year. Who wants to remember that? I think I should.