Saturday, March 7, 2009

Things Change

I remember being so angry with my parents in high school. They would rarely buy me new clothes, and when they did they were the kind from the JC Penny sale rack. I hated showing up to school with all my friends in their fresh pressed duds and me in my crappy hand-me-downs. I'd get made fun of for wearing a shirt too much, but I only wore it because it was my only cool shirt. I would have never admitted it at the time, but being popular seemed like the pinnacle of success. It really seemed like those guys had the life. All you needed was tan skin, a white smile and some fresh new clothes, and suddenly you were in. Well, I never really got 'in' and I cursed my parents for it. Today, I can't stop singing their praises. Why? Because things change...

I was the guy on the fringe. I didn't have what it took to be cool. My skin didn't tan very well, and my clothes were unoriginal. As for my teeth, the braces during junior year didn't help my status, and by the time they came off I'd taught myself how to smile without showing them at all. I had friends, lots of them, but I wasn't the nucleus. Their plans didn't revolve around mine. Sometimes I think of how my life might have turned out if I had been the nucleus. I imagine I would have stayed around town after graduation much longer, trying to milk the fame I poured myself into during those four years of high school. I probably would have gone to parties and reminisced about those days of yore, back when I had it made. I probably would have got a job nearby, say as a landscaper, so I could keep all the same friends who still recognized my hard earned status. I probably would have slowly and grudgingly started to hate my life, because for those unfortunate enough to be the nucleus, it is often the case that high school
is the pinnacle. And after that, things change... 

I was happy to bring on the change. I stuck around a year after graduation to do some manual labor and "soul-searching" *cough* partying *cough* and then decided I needed to get the heck out of Dodge. I realized in that year that I wasn't the type to milk a situation that wasn't the best to begin with, and that I was young and there was life to be discovered. So I moved to Seattle.
The change that happened then was drastic.

Over the course of the last eight years, and through many different experiences, I believe I've become a changed person. Call it getting older, but I've settled in to who I am. I like myself. Once a year I'll head back home for the holidays, and I'll see some old friends. Some seem satisfied with life, and others, generally the ones who had it pretty good in high school, seem to have changed in a different way. They seem worse off. It's sad, because I can tell that they don't like who they've become. It's like they stuck around, trying to relive the vigor and momentousness they felt in high school. Where life felt finite and important. Where they belonged. Where they were respected. But life dragged on, and it's like they've been beating this dead horse for years, not wanting to let go, to start over a nobody, to have to struggle to gain respect. Their tan skin starting to look rough, their nice clothes exchanged for coveralls, their white smiles hidden behind their lips. I'm almost shocked by their demeanor. Embarrassed by their humility.

They look at me, and I'm just a poor nobody with nothing to hang my hat on, and they say, 
"You made it, man."
Made it? Somebody should tell my over-drafted bank account. 
"You got out, you are doing something different, everyone here is proud of you."
Everyone is proud of me? That's a funny thought.
"Yeah man you're famous."
No, I'm not. People just assume that.

But really, people talk about me? The kid with pale skin and stupid clothes and braces. The MacDonald kid. The kid who's rebellious. The kid who thinks he's fat. The kid who thinks he's ugly. The kid who resents his parents... Things change.

And then I'm reminded of how microscopic my world view was in high school. It's like I've lived ten lifetimes since. I wanted to so badly to be known and respected, at any expense. I can still recall the pang, the inconsolable longing for popularity however temporary. However shallow the requirements.

I think about my parents and how they didn't buy into the system I subscribed to. I thought I had a dire responsibility to fit in or be cast aside, and for whatever reason they didn't comply. I was angry, but now I'm glad because things changed. 

So to you on the fringes, I say rejoice! The nucleus will eventually implode on itself, and you'll be set free one day to travel as far as your dreams will take you. Always remember, no matter how finite, wretched, overlooked or desperate your life might seem: Things change!


  1. I always love hearing stuff like this-- how high school isn't everything, and usually the "popular kids" end up getting the bad end of the stick thirty years later. My parents were the same; they didn't buy into the system, and neither do I. I can't wait for change : )

  2. I am kinda liek you were Matt. im like on the outside of everyone. im not popular, i kinda stay to myself, and i hang out with people who are my friends, whether they are popular or not. i stay to myself alot, always listening to music (especially TCC alot recently) and im kinda just there. i just want high school to be over with.

    sometimes i feel like im stuck in a cycle everyday. i wake up, go to school, come home, listen to music, do homework, eay, go to sleep. i feel stuck in a cycle and there is nothing i could do about it. but im hoping liek you said things will change and ill eventually get out of this cycle.

  3. What a great post. It's comforting. I just moved from Massachusetts to Chicago to play guitar solely because I had nothing to do in Massachusetts. I felt the same way in the few years I went to High School. I love you Matt.

  4. i'm gonna have to say that this is most likely my favoritist blogs ever.

  5. hey, Matt.. I am not very sure how this comment will really come to your vision because I think most real singer will not have the time to read all. Just wanna tell you guys that I really wish your band can come over to Malaysia. I am really looking forward to see you guys here but i guess it will take some time. oh yea, nice blog, man. Be grateful for the negative thoughts in the past, because without them, maybe things will not be in place as where they are now. anyway, write more songs. Your songs really touch people's life, man! God bless, Man!

  6. I enjoyed this post. I'm now a senior in high school, and looking back on it, I've struggled with a lot of self-esteem issues over the past four years. My school is private, and there are a lot of girls that wear designer clothes and have designer things and stuff like that, and I'm always finding myself gawking at them, wishing I had things like that. But this year, I realized I only have a couple of more months of this, and then I'll be off to college, where it'll be a totally different environment, and I won't have to deal with all of these self-conscious feelings I've dealt with in high school. I can move on with life, and do better things instead of worrying about if I fit in, if what I'm wearing will impress people, etc. I can't wait for the change. :D

    This entry kind of reminds me to the lyrics of Just A Man. Especially the second verse, "wake me up, wipe the cliche from my eyes...etc." I love how I can see your thoughts written in here reflected in your music. It gives it the songs a deeper meaning than they already seem to have.

  7. Funny thing about post-high-school change: It's all on YOU.

    Your true character shows through, and you MIGHT even see who you really are. Whether or not you LIKE what you see in yourself is a different story...

    I come from a well-to-do middle class white family, and high school was OK. I was relatively easy-going, though I'd get all high-strung on big assignments, talking to girls, and other seemingly normal "freakout-able" things. My grades were OK, because I didn't really have a need to be the best out there, and as such I graduated something like 100 out of my class' 300 students. The top third line! (oooooh aaaaah)

    Once I got out of school, however, I just scootched along in community colleges, indifferent to my grades, homework, and teachers. I'd procrastinate on every assignment until the day they were due (or the night before, for most of the larger assignments). I worked at my local Taco Bell, with some high school friends, for about 2 and a half more years after graduating.

    The point: I was indifferent. My future, how I felt towards my family, my grades; I didn't really care. I didn't know what passion really was.

    Some of my old friends came back to work at the Bell between college semesters, and they would share their stories about college life, fraternities, and general craziness. I envied their alleged adventures. After doing some soul-searching, I saw how indifferent I really was being to my future and I hated it.

    I attended my local church and eventually became a volunteer youth minister, and tried to combat indifference by basically sharing my story and telling high schoolers "don't do this. it sucks." I made great friends, saw the warmth of community growing, even grew to feel what a tinge of passion was. And then I was booted out of my parents' house to go to University (for something I didn't know I wanted to really even DO).

    I went into debt half-heartedly, and I'm literally paying for it now. I'm still not on the path I'd like to be on.

    However, in this time, I've been able to think about what I'd really like to do. But you can't understand that until you stop thinking and start DOING. At my church, I realized that I LOVED being selfless, serving others, and all that jazz. So there's that going for me. Combined with other things I truly enjoy, I've only in this past week (now age 22) decided to try something: Teaching!

    A simple, in-demand job that doesn't pay well and has a bunch of stress! Sure, through the old looking glass. Right now I see a selfless job that can allow me to change the world, one student at a time, in a (semi)community-setting, teaching them something that can open doors for them later in life.

    If it's not what I end up making a career out of, then it's a step along the way. What do I have to lose?

  8. Matt,

    I dont know how i can express how much you have influenced my life event though the most you have talked to me individually is a few kind words after a show a few times. Through both the music of TCC, and this blog. This is really something i wish i would have found a year or so ago because i am on my way out of highschool, but i completely understand. My parents may have faciliated me in my attempts to "fit in", but i am just now starting to realize you do not have to. This post gives me so much hope for the future and the fact that people do find themselves and that there is hope.

    Thank You

    Jeff Reckamp

  9. I on the fringe dearly needed to hear this. Thank you so much for sending that message out. I know I and many others are encouraged my it. Please continue to write, blogs, as well as music. You really make a difference in my life from the words you speak. Thank you.

  10. yeah i never really realized how big the popularity thing was in high school and how much i unconditionally wanted in, until after i graduated. now i realize it was there and i also realize how much of a useless struggle it was. i'm so glad it's over.

  11. I cannot believe how similar our stories are Matt. I, too had the braces through junior year and learned to smile w/o showing my teeth. My clothes come mainly from Kohl's (basically JCP) and I still bum rides from friends. Like you said, at first your parents are the absolute worst but now, I realize, that they have been right all along. I still have a couple of months until I graduate, but I cannot wait to see how much time is wasted to be 'the norm.'