Friday, June 28, 2013


Did We Live Up To Our Yearbook Pages?

Graduation season has, mercifully, just passed, and yearbooks—which capture for eternity the earnest sarcasm and sarcastic earnestness of our 18-year-old selves—are tucked away, to be cherished and cringed at for decades to come. What do the undimmed hopes of our teenage years, inscribed on the gravestones of our youth, say to us now, 10 or 20 years later? How accountable are we to our adolescent selves? What can we learn from our own time capsules, these postcards from the past? And what the hell were we thinking with all the abbreviations? The Hairpin reports.

MIKE DANG of The Billfold:

We didn't have quotes or anything like that in my high school yearbook, but I was voted "Most Spirited" by my senior class. The "senior superlatives" were done in boy/girl pairs, so my friend Daisy, who was a cheerleader and in student government with me, was also voted "Most Spirited." I loved being in high school (well, up to that last semester when I was excited about moving on and going to college). I loved going to classes, planning school dances and assemblies, running in track and field, making T-shirts and posters for big games, being in the school musical, participating in marching band, running the student store, joining basically every club ever.

[So, basically, a more functional version of Max from Rushmore. –ed.]

LOGAN SACHON of The Billfold:

I was going through a Jesus moment when it was time to choose quotes. I was out of it by the time the yearbook came out. I was also out of my period of thinking that the world/anything could be changed by me or anyone else, or that anything mattered, at all. YOUTH.

JULIEANNE SMOLINSKI, aka @boobsradley:

I lived up to the promise of my high school yearbook page in that I still look terrible in photographs.


My senior photo from high school tells me that my big aspiration was to have sideburns. I'm happy to report that since high school, I've achieved moderate success in that area.

My quote:

"You see things; and say 'why'? But I dream things that never were; and I say 'why not'?" – George Bernard Shaw. ILY M&D, GL Dan and Jeff. GLTAMF

It's like I was pressured into using the abbreviations that everyone else used. I did and do love my parents and certainly wished and wish my brothers luck, but I would never use acronyms like that IRL, and especially in that pre-Twitter existence. SMH. I suppose it's better than emoticons? I unfortunately never won any superlatives, though I do sometimes wonder how life would be different had I won something like "Most All-Around," "Class Athlete," "Most Unique Car," or "Cutest Sneeze." (All actual categories.) Eh. Whatever. I always believed in my sneeze.


"Glory to those who hope! For the future is theirs; Those who stand unflinching against the mountain shall gain its summit." IWALY M&D GL Eric GL Dan-o in all that you do. GLTAMF, you know who you are. Car, Linz, Greg, and all my other peeps. ILYM.

IWALY = I will always love you, which is what everyone said

GL = good luck. I don’t think I called [my twin] Dan “Dan-o” ever

GLTAMF = good luck to all my friends

I didn't talk to Carolyn for half of my senior year, Lindsay I stopped talking to after freshman year of college [Ouch. Sorry, ladies. –ed]

“Peeps” was used ironically, but, like, no one knows that

ILYM = I love your mom, which all of my friends wrote.


CHOIRE SICHA, co-editor of The Awl:


JENSEN KARP, Owner of Gallery1998 in LA; host of “Get Up on This” podcast:

It was hard to even send you the image of my senior quote once I realized it was a Scarface quote. I'm like a walking episode of Cribs where Bonecrusher walks you through his house, past the shark tank and into his bedroom, where there's a picture of Al Pacino in a Hawaiian shirt, sitting front of a mound of coke, on his wall. Also, I weirdly look like a Middle Eastern pager salesman in my senior photo. YES, two gauged earrings.

Also, I was up for all the great Superlatives, like "Best All Around" or "Most Likely To Succeed," and only won the two shittiest on the ballot [Biggest Flirt and Biggest Gossip]. It was rumored that the girl that I shared Biggest Flirt with had a sex tape circulating that was filmed without her consent. When you’re 17 years old, I guess that means you get voted Biggest Flirt. Now that I'm 33, I realize that means you call the police.

NICOLE CLIFFE, former Hairpin Books editor, co-editor of the forthcoming The Toast.

Looking at my yearbooks, I am filled with envy for my hair and my lack of pores. I felt fat 100% of the time (fat is not actually a feeling), but I don't look fat in the pictures, I look like a baby. My hair was so shiny. I am over a decade older, and I look worse now, but I feel so much better about myself. I was cute, and I wrote Monty Python quotations in everyone's book. Different ones. I wanted to be an Anglican priest, but only because I didn't know I could be a lady-blogger. I fell in love with every boy in my International Baccalaureate group. There were six of them, and I alternated which one I was in love with, unrequitedly, every three months. I did the same thing with the members of Monty Python, except for Terry Jones (sorry, Terry!) and Graham Chapman (gay.) I also fell in love with each of the Kids in the Hall, except for Scott Thompson (gay), as though THAT was the main barrier which would keep our love from blooming. I fell in love with 70% of my male teachers, and I was most in love with a beautiful blonde girl from choir who made me mixtapes of Catatonia, a Welsh rock group. I never told her, but she probably knew, because I always asked her to tie the little green tie we all wore to concerts. High school girl love has altered not a jot from the 19th century girls' school novels. "The Pluckiest Girl in the Sixth Form," "The Luckiest Girl in the Fourth Form." They all sound like Doctor Who episode titles. I've been in love many times since, but I'll never love anyone with the same painful confusion as I loved the blonde girl from choir, and I still think of her when I hear Catatonia's Cerys Matthews duet with Tom Jones on "Baby, It's Cold Outside." I now realize that song is a PUA manual, but it makes me want to touch someone's hair, and say: "it's so soft! what conditioner do you use?" and hope she knows I mean: "I want to go live in Wales with you on a little farm and read Wuthering Heights to each other by firelight."

CARRIE FRYE, former managing editor of The Awl:

My perm was IMMENSE.

RACHEL FERSHLEISER of Tumblr, Housing Works, Six Word Memoirs, etc.:

My beloved Edward R. Murrow High School Costuming Design club spelled both my first AND last names wrong.

JANE HU of The Awl and elsewhere:

In all my high school yearbook cameos, I'm singing. I was, unfortunately, not just a theater kid, but a musical theater kid. Chamber choir and vocal jazz groups were okay and all, but I was in my element most when twirling a parasol to a Gilbert & Sullivan ensemble number. At one point I seriously considered giving it all to pursue a life on Broadway (my drama teacher said give it ten years and if it doesn't pan out by then, quit), so it would be utterly wild for 17-year-old me to know that I'll be applying to English literature graduate programs this fall. Academia! When I was skipping classes to pound out Sondheim in a rehearsal room! To my near shock, however, I did manage to get accepted into a post-secondary institution, which prompted the following announcement during my graduation: "Jane Hu will be attending McGill University this Fall to double major in neuroscience and English literature." Hahahahahahahahahaha.

JEAN GRAE, rapper:

I'd love to [share]! Except... I dropped out of high school in my senior year. Ha ha! Showed YOU, EDUCATION!!! However, my favorite yearbook picture is my elementary school flick. Also a gang of other great stuff in that yearbook. I went to a charter school in the West Village, soooo.... We also had to state our careers. I look very snide and it just says "entertainer."


I was just a name on the last page. They'd arranged it so that an entire page was just me and Adam Z. Two tiny thumbnails on an otherwise blank page. No superlatives or quotes or anything. I looked like shit, though, that is for sure.


“One thing I can tell you is you got to be free. –Lennon McCartney.” I don't know why I chose that quote. I probably thought it was a little edgy and not cliché. (The kid to my right, I see, had the "life moves pretty fast" line from Ferris Bueller. Shoulda gone with a classic.) More notable, though, is the senior portrait that I did not select for the yearbook page. In one of the poses, the photographer had me sit on a bench, and prop my elbow up on the back. For some reason he wanted me to rest my hand on my shoulder. I guess I wanted to get things over with, so I went with it, and I'm very grateful that I did: just look at that phantom floating hand. Whose hand is that? Is it really mine? I'm still skeptical.



Looking at this page makes me feel smiley because of my smiley face signature, confused about why I didn't change my legal name to reflect my lifelong nickname sooner, and squirmy about my frenetic list of extracurricular activities (highlights: "Second Place Cheer Extreme Routine," Bronze Medal in Honors Algebra II, lots of musical theater and the painful editorship of my evangelical K-12 school's 400-page yearbook, which by senior year my friends and I were stuffing with an un-Christlike amount of gossip and rude inside jokes). I am bored by my boring quote from a song by Colin Hay, the former lead singer of Men at Work: "Don't you understand, I already have a plan... I'm waiting for my real life to begin." But I've had the same face I was a toddler and otherwise, aside from my sincerity level and the "Angeli" thing, I have to admit that I haven't really changed one bit.


Previously: Daisy, You're a Drip, Dear: Detestable Literary Characters Who Are Not Technically Villains

Ester Bloom apparently believed that, “when I look down, I just miss all the good stuff, and when I look up, I just trip over things.” Follow her @shorterstory.

(We, the mortified, invite you to share your own mortifying quotes in the comments.)

181 Comments / Post A Comment


I have conducted a series of experiments and can confirm that is not possible that that is Emma's hand.


@thematt Phantom Hand is our copy editor


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My senior portrait was taken by a friend in the sheep pasture behind her house. There are no sheep in the picture, to my everlasting regret.

(Who else is totally unsurprised that Mike Dang was Most Spirited?)


@anachronistique my senior portrait was also taken in a sheep pasture. I had ones taken professionally, but they all apparently violated my school's very strict dress code, so I had my mother take a picture of me in the pasture for the yearbook.


@anachronistique Who else is totally unsurprised that Choire is having a minor nervous breakdown even thinking about this topic?


One of the ways I was rebelling at the time was by not grooming.

So there I am in my photo, looking like a grease slick and most likely stoned... And, since I was a part of exactly zero activities, I was the anti- Mike Dang.


Amazing well done@y


When my exclamation point key realized what this post was about it preemptively committed suicide so here are some ampersands: &&&&&

Lily Rowan

I'm feeling pretty good about the fact that (IIRC) my high school yearbook had no quotes and no superlatives. Oh, I think there was a paid advertising section that people used for quotes, maybe? I could not be bothered.


@Lily Rowan The only quote in my yearbook was "I like myself" under a smug-looking picture of a classmate. She didn't choose it; the yearbook staff did. It became a tradition at my high school for years after that.

The only other quote-like thing in my yearbook was an optional stamp that read SUCK COCK. We thought we were so cool and rebellious. We were pretty insufferable.


We didn't have quotes in our yearbook, which I am a combination of grateful for/disappointed about. I kind of love looking back at the terribly embarrassing teenager I was. I probably would have quoted RENT or something equally horrifying.


It also breaks my heart that my senior yearbook is two states away so I can't find my picture.


@frigwiggin Mine is basically a set of inside jokes, but I have a terrible memory so the thing reads like some kind of crazy person puzzle. Not a clue what it means.


@frigwiggin RENT quote? Yep that was me.


me too.


We didn't have pages, but we did have senior quotes. And mine was a lyric from a Bright Eyes song. Oh god, the shame, THE SHAME.


@yeah-elle Oh god. If my HS yearbook had allowed quotes I just know that I would have quoted some dumb thing from "Let's Not Shit Ourselves (To Love and To Be Loved.)" I definitely had a ~significant teenage experience~ seeing Bright Eyes touring right before Lifted came out.


@lookuplookup Right, I saw Bright Eyes FOUR TIMES in high school. If there is anything in my life that helps me realize that how I feel won't always stay the same, it's remembering my erstwhile crazy devotion to anything and everything that Conor Oberst produced. I just looked it up, the lyric I chose was from "Method Acting." Oof.


@yeah-elle once i was wasted on new years in high school and spray painted "i <3 conor oberst" in a parking lot and it's STILL THERE in houston ahhhhh


@yeah-elle Oh god, four times?! The one time I saw them in high school was so central to my teen life (I came home and wrote in my journal about how Conor stayed on the stage solo for "Waste of Paint" and how much it meant to me, like, you get the idea), but I didn't see them again until they toured for their last album. I still reflect on that show all the time... but mostly because someone in the crowd threw a water balloon at Conor.


@yeah-elle Everything you just said made me so happy.


@lookuplookup was anyone here at the bright eyes show in fall 2005 at constitution hall in dc when he either played with two full backing bands or i was reallly, realllllly messed up?


@j-i-a I had a friend who got a stick-and-poke tattoo of a heart with "C.O." in it. No joke. So...I guess be glad that the graffiti is in a Houston parking lot and not upside down on your own thigh.

@lookuplookup Ugh, yes. Four times! All between 2001 and 2005. I remember one of the times I saw them was on Conor's birthday and the whole audience sang to him. I recently had the opportunity to see Conor's new band (or maybe just him solo?) at a free outdoor concert and I cannot tell you how fast I walked in the other direction. You would think I'd still have a soft spot for him, but I really don't, yikes.

Judith Slutler

@j-i-a amazing.


@all You guys, I am totally spending this unmotivated Friday afternoon listening to old school Bright Eyes and reliving my angst.


@yeah-elle same! these are the bright eyes lyrics I quoted:

i guess time has a way of making everything all right
it's just there's not enough of it
so we drink and we sing and we celebrate this lie
and hope that it will last

I mean, WOW. I can't believe I wasn't super popular in high school!!


@yeah-elle Oh, my high school username for EVERYTHING was definitely not from "A Scale, a Mirror, and Those Indifferent Clocks".

Specifically not from the line "Her eyes were green like July, except when she cried, they were reeeeeee-ED!"

(Christ, Conor Oberst. And past self.)


Nicole, you won't mind if I steal "I wanted to be an Anglican priest, but only because I didn't know I could be a lady-blogger" as my new life motto?

penultimate toothpaste squeeze

Fortunately for me, my high school yearbook didn't give me the option to write quotes about how I was going to change the world.

Although, I was "runner-up" for Most Likely to Join a Nudist Colony...


"Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever." Napoleon

I was never very social. Also, the picture looks nothing like me. FITTING.


In high school I was voted "Smartest" and "Most Mischievous," which is just a combo that adds up to "Most Socially Maladjusted."

fondue with cheddar

@lookuplookup I was voted "Most Artistic," and today I am a grossly underpaid graphic designer! I was pissed that I wasn't voted "Shortest" because the girl who got it was totally that mean popular cheerleader cliché.


@fondue with cheddar haha, the guy who was voted Most Artistic at my school is also a graphic designer.

fondue with cheddar

@janedonuts Because it's one of the only ways to be an artist and actually have money to live on!


@fondue with cheddar I was "Most Artistic" too! I'm the one writer on a design team...

fondue with cheddar

@martini Haha, close enough! :)


@fondue with cheddar Same. Also everyone I went to art school with was also voted "Most Artistic".


Seniors at my high school had portraits and quotes. I was smirking Mona Lisa-style in mine because I don't like the space between my teeth and I thought it made me look more mysterious. I had a quote from Pride and Prejudice. I probably haven't really changed.

Judith Slutler

@siniichulok I also had the smirk because I look like an evil demon when I smile with teeth, somehow.


@siniichulok I also had the smirk because my braces didn't come off until the summer after graduation.

fondue with cheddar

Woah, people had ENTIRE PAGES in their yearbooks? All we had was our senior portrait and our name. No quote or anything. But there was a section in the back where they had baby pictures and well-wishes sent in by the parents, and a blurb written by each student. It was limited as to the number of characters, and it was full of abbreviations and inside jokes and the initials of all your friends. I can't even understand half of it anymore.


@fondue with cheddar We were lucky just to get color pictures for senior year. Mine captured the very short period in which I thought it was cool to dye my perfectly decent-colored hair jet black.

fondue with cheddar

@Amphora Haha, oh no!

I ended up with the wrong picture, because for the first one I did my hair all nice and wore a pretty necklace and the picture came out great but it didn't look anything like the way I looked every day. So when they had reshoots I took one au naturale, with my still-growing-out perm and dye job and uneven, scraggly ends. Not good. So I purchased the portrait package from the first sitting, thinking they'd use the one I chose in the yearbook. They did not.


I won homecoming queen, & two girls who were also up but lost tried to get me recalled (?) LOL now, but pretty awful then. HIGH SCHOOL.

fondue with cheddar

@hallelujah WHAT. High school kids are the worst.

At my junior prom everyone at my table voted for the gregarious nerd for prom king as a joke. And then he won! And the prom queen was the popular girl who was super nice to everyone. And they joyfully danced together and it was like the end of a movie where all the good people win.


@fondue with cheddar Hey that was us too! (uhh, humblebrag kind of?) My best friend got King, and he was totally the nerdy nice guy. In the pictures, he's in his drum major marching band uniform :D


@hallelujah Man, fuck high school right? I was in an elevator with a bunch of high school girls a couple of weeks ago and just hearing them talk about their classmates, jesus.


@fondue with cheddar that happened to a guy I knew in senior year! Except it was for the Valentine's formal, so there were still four months left in the school year, by the end of which he was genuinely popular and now he has a successful media career and is married to a sorority girl. I am still confused (but pleased) by the sudden social rise of that dude who used to wear a ST:TNG uniform every Halloween for six years.

fondue with cheddar

@hallelujah Marching band yay! (I was in color guard.)

@sophia_h Last I heard, my school's popular nerd had a job driving a school bus and was running for school board. He was not a smart nerd (he took a lot of remedial classes), but he was very outgoing and unselfconscious and he knew EVERYBODY.


@fondue with cheddar Our nerd was actually decent-looking and had a lot of non-nerdy interests, like football, but he was so socially awkward he couldn't have a conversation with a female pre-teen movie rise to popularity. (I do not count myself, as I was kind of an honorary boy in high school.) So his blossoming made some sense, it was just weird for people who'd known him as the shrinking violet in the corner of the computer lab.


@fondue with cheddar COLOR GUARD A+++


@hallelujah I was on the yearbook staff and will never forget the girl who petitioned us for not winning "Best Looking" - she was a treat. Two years later we ended up at the same summer job (waitressing) and she asked me what high school I went to.

honey cowl

Oh you guys, we all voted my friend who had cancer to homecoming queen junior year. It was amazing at the time (we were not the popular kids) but this is killing me because she's on her final battle these days. High school = pretty bad. Worse with cancer I think.


@fondue with cheddar COLOR GUARD. My sister-in-law was in color guard and I am OBSESSED. We didn't have it in my town, and indeed I'd never heard of it 'til I met my husband. COLOR GUARD.

fondue with cheddar

@Bittersweet DUDE, it was SO MUCH FUN. I'm so sorry they didn't have it in your town! It was the most athletic thing I was any good at. It's been more than 20 years and I really miss it. I wish I still had a flag so I could practice. I wonder if there's a grown-up color guard I could join...

The only thing that sucked about it was that we traveled to football games and marching band competitions on our own bus. We sat around braiding our hair and putting on makeup (which is fun for some, just not me), while the band kids (where most of my friends were) got to joke around and make out with each other. One time I snuck onto the band bus but I got in trouble when we arrived at our destination. But it was worth it because it was so much more fun.

@honey cowl Oh man, I'm so sorry about your friend. Sending good thoughts to her.


I might not have my senior yearbook anymore? That makes me sad! I was voted Wittiest and I cut class to go be in, like, every club picture but I was not actually in any clubs except Quiz Bowl.


I was just thinking about superlatives the other day. Do they still do that?

We had Best Legs at my school. I was thinking at the reunion that we should get a look at the current state of said legs. That would be deeply entertaining to me.


@janedonuts my half-brother just won Nicest Eyes a few weeks ago. Which is exactly what I would have picked for him, though as a jock he probably wishes he'd won something cooler.


@janedonuts They did it when I graduated two years ago. One of my close friends and I were both nominated for "Born in the Wrong Decade" which I'm pretty sure was just a euphemism for "weird"


Catatonia! I think they did that "Mulder and Scully" song that closed out the "hot new music" sampler cd my best friend got from JC Penney's in 1998, and which my X-Files-obsessed self listened to over and over, despite the sinking knowledge that it really had nothing to do with the show at all.

My senior yearbook page says "my mother picked this shot of me in a shiny gold stretch velvet shirt because she said I looked so pretty, and it looks nothing like anybody else's and is faintly ridiculous" which sums up the ensuing 8 years of my life before I got into therapy pretty darn well.


I didn't do a senior photo and I don't think I had a page or quotes or whatever.

I did pretty handily win the "Most Easily Distracted" superlative. Then the superintendent or someone else who should have something better to do said that was bad, and it was changed to "Most Likely to be Caught Reading a Book in Class" for some reason. The photo is of my gal counterpoint and I gingerly holding books all like ?????

I still live up to my superlative.


@Probs in 5th grade we got awards, and my hippie teacher gave me the Chief Broom Award because I was always reading a book and no one knew how much attention I was really paying to anything. In retrospect, whooooa, heavy stuff for a ten year old.


@Probs Also, a friend if mine was 100% robbed for "Biggest Hoopty"


@sophia_h whoah! Intense award for a kid.


@Probs I still remember him explaining it to me, and me being like "mental hospital?!?"


@Probs That could have been my superlative!


@Probs TWINSIES! Except that I forgot the photo date and so there's a line that says something like, "Gee, [3penny] was too busy with books to show up for this picture OH WELL." Coulda been much worse.


Paraphrasing, but I think my yearbook quote was: "Those who would sacrifice liberty for the illusion of security deserve neither." - Benjamin Franklin

I was such a good little libertarian.

I was also voted "most artistic" to my complete surprise. I think maybe people confused wearing a lot of black with artistic talent.


@DianaPrince We had a graduation ceremony when I finished grade 9, and one girl wrote to me "Good luck being a fashion designer! You are so talented."
.....I never expressed any interest in being a "fashion designer"? I wasn't even really into art? I have no idea where that came from.


@lora.bee I would tell this story to everyone I meet


We didn't have quotes, but I got to write a little composition to go under the class photo. It had an embarrassing tendency to address the reader directly, and a number of allusions to "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." I was really hung up about where to part my hair and whether to eat a peach back then. Plus ça change . . . .


Also, I went with an unbearably pompous quote from Pindar, the Greek poet, which I am certain I found in a book of quotations.

“O my soul, do not aspire to immortal life, but exhaust the limits of the possible.”

Still, I think I've embraced the sentiment.


@janedonuts I had a quote from Goethe.... but I learned it from the quotations of Mrs. Who in "A Wrinkle in Time," so.


I graduated in a class of about 600 so no pages, superlatives, quotes, etc. For this I am very thankful.


Thankfully, my high school didn't do quotes and I didn't win any superlatives, so I don't have anything to live up to from my senior yearbook. There *is* a shot of me wielding a desk chair threateningly for the top 25 seniors section because the yearbook staff decided to get creative with it. I have yet to menace anyone with a desk chair in real life, but it's only been 10 years, I have time.

Briony Fields

I'm with you, Choire. Too embarrassing to even revisit. I will admit that like Logan, I was in a short but intense Jesus phase during graduation, which is now mortifyingly immortalized. YEARBOOKS SHOULD BE BANNED.
My picture was cute, at least.


@Briony Fields Random, but have you ever read the John Jeremiah Sullivan essay about going to the Christian rock festival? He talks about his Christian phase in high school in it. If I had had one of those, I think reading that would have made me feel better about it.

Briony Fields

@janedonuts I haven't, but thanks for the recommend! It's nice to know I'm not alone in my Jesus freak regret.


@Briony Fields I got a high school class ring, and on one side is has a musical staff (I pretty much stopped playing violin the day I graduated high school) and the other side is a glowing cross on a hill (yeah... that didn't last much longer). I would love to wear my class ring but now it sort of represents how damn earnest I was and how I thought I would be the same forever.

Briony Fields

@muddgirl Isn't that the awful part? You wanted all that stuff on permanent record because you thought it would be 100% you FOREVER. Oh, how young and naive we were!


I was so sick of my overly-competitive, stuck-up, Catholic girls high school by the time I graduated that my senior quote attempted to make a stick-it-to-the-man gesture in the immortal words of Homer Simpson: "That's it! You people have stood in my way long enough. I'm going to clown college!"

No regrets.


@Carrie06 I'm pretty sure there was at least one Simpsons quote in every graduating class the years I attended high school. None as on-point as that one though.


I tied for two superlatives, Most Musical and... Most Loved? (I might be inflating "Most Loved," but it was something similar that I wanted.) But the second-place girl for Most Loved hadn't gotten any other superlatives, so the yearbook staff gave that one to her and I got Most Musical. Which is not as great and I wish I could've ousted the Loved girl but that would probably make me less lovable.


@SarahP I love that I've even forgotten the supposed "honor" but I haven't gotten over my bitterness.

fondue with cheddar



@fondue with cheddar But do you love me THE MOST?

fondue with cheddar

@SarahP I love you more than everyone else at your stupid school! :)


I remember we had to go get our senior portraits taken at a specific photo studio. It was in a shopping center under construction. My dad drove me and he tried to drive into the construction zone because he was a terrible driver and couldn't be bothered to find the temporary parking lot on the other side of the building. Of course, the whole time I was yelling, "You can't drive into there! NO! YOU CAN'T!" and then I started crying because it stressed me out so much and I was so mad because it ruined my eyeliner and I thought I'd be all cry-faced for my senior portrait. Of course, I wasn't because we had to wait a whole hour and a half while the entire senior student population of like 5 high schools got tied into their faux off-the-shoulder dresses and black-tie tuxes.

fondue with cheddar

@yeah-elle I'm glad you had time to recover from the crying! Ugh, what a pain in the ass. For mine they brought the photographer into the school library and took all the photos there. And it was by appointment, so I only had like three people ahead of me. Clearly that's how it should be done.


@fondue with cheddar That's totally a better way to do it.

I completely forgot about the experience until I saw these photos! I do feel like this one event (and it's stress, mortification, poor relationships with parents, bad outfits) pretty much exemplifies my high school experience at large, though.

fondue with cheddar

@yeah-elle You could not pay me to relive high school again.


@yeah-elle ohhh, we had those faux off-the-shoulder dresses. so not only did the photographer make me take my glasses off (= unfocused eyes, yessss), but my poor nerdy high school self was forced to wear a fake dress top that she'd NEVER in a million years be seen in normally. I was mortified haha.


OH and for the 4 years from 8th to 12th grade, I had the perfect senior quote in mind... and then my senior year, they instituted a word limit and my quote was 25 words over the word limit so it would not pass and I am also still bitter about that.


@SarahP Soooo? Don't leave us hanging, what was it?


@SarahP Oooo, okay! It's from Ray Bradbury's "No Particular Night or Morning" story:

“We're all fools," said Clemens, "all the time. It's just we're a different kind each day. We think, I'm not a fool today. I've learned my lesson. I was a fool yesterday but not this morning. Then tomorrow we find out that, yes, we were a fool today too. I think the only way we can grow and get on in this world is to accept the fact we're not perfect and live accordingly.”

fondue with cheddar

@SarahP Damn, your quote would have been the best one.


@fondue with cheddar Right?! I first read that quote in 1998 and I still want to tape it to everything I own so I never stop seeing it.

maybe partying will help

I don't have any of my yearbooks but I do have my mom's, which are a thousand times more interesting because she graduated from the same high school in 1974 and the band uniforms were way groovier back then.

Also my senior pictures were awful because I was sunburned and had worked past midnight the night before, and for some reason my mother let me out of the house wearing a beige top that day. BEIGE?? Superlative: Most Likely To Wear Deeply Unflattering Clothing At All Times Especially For Important Pictures.

maybe partying will help

And now I am trying to figure out what my quote would have been if my yearbook had had quotes for seniors.

Probably "E! T! C!" Haven't grown up much in the past eight years.


@maybe partying will help Oh my GOD, the parental yearbooks. My mom looked exactly the same from age 15 to age... probably 50? So as a kid I got a massive kick out of hers.

And my dad went to a Catholic high school with a very strict dress code, so he's wearing a jacket and tie and has his hair shellacked into a helmet and is clean-shaven. He's had a beard since about the minute he graduated. And his hair was literally parted over one ear and swept aalllll the way over his head to tuck behind the other in a pompadour... so that on the weekends he could part it in the middle, wear it long, and rock out in his band.


@maybe partying will help My mom went to one of the top girls prep schools in the country (in CT) and her yearbook is amaze-balls. There were only 28 girls in her class and everyone had known each other for umpteen years, so everyone had their own full page with a paragraph of their nicknames, best qualities, favorite sayings, etc. Things like "Susan...'Susie-Q'...always bubbly and perfectly coiffed...white cashmere sweaters and argyle socks...expert knitter...'Girls, that's the cat's pajamas'...dates with Kingswood boys on the Cape..." etc.

All the pictures are ridiculous and heavily doctored and every girl looks like a Hollywood ingenue. Nary a pimple or double-chin in sight. Needless to say, I'm in love with this yearbook and will probably have to fight my sister for it when we go through our mom's stuff decades hence.


I really want for this thread to result in two Pinners finding out they went to the same high school. Bonus points if they got superlatives together (or were superlative rivals).


@SarahP One of the Awl commenters and I actually did go to high school together...he's how I found out about this whole universe in the first place, several years ago.


Damn, I want to be friends with high school senior Nicole as much as I want to be friends with present day Nicole.

We had, in addition to a book yearbook, a video yearbook, in which I am featured prominently. This is only because I was in the video tech class with the people making the video yearbook, but I can pretend it's because I was a Prominent Member of 2004. Notable embarrassment: I had abandoned my one-blonde-streak by senior year, but I was still wearing a black ribbon choker every day because a guy I liked told me it looked hot once. Ah, youth.


My senior quote was "Remember Bennifer? Man. Bennifer;" I was in no clubs and was voted nothing at all.


@melis Mine was "I love you all. Class dismissed." by George Feeny. I was not the principal.


If I'm remembering this correctly, at my high school each person could only get one superlative, and my high school frenemesis apparently really wanted to win "Most Likely To Succeed." I was her most obvious competition for that title, so as a member of student council she added the factually-based category "Longest Hair," which I would be forced to win.

For what its worth, I ended up with a PhD from A Fancy University but she married rich and probably goes to a lot of yoga classes while I'm wasting away in a $13/hour postdoc, so who knows who actually won, in the end... :/ My hair's still pretty long, tho.


I wrote "Meet me under the Grand Central clock in ten years, we'll go dancing." in everyone's books. Which no one understood, because I was the only 17 year old in that school that owned M*A*S*H on dvd.

Heat Signature

I really liked my senior picture, in which I wore a medieval-style gown and posed on a fainting couch while looking off to the side, although my bangs at the time were unfortunate. I had some random quote from a Vietnamese poet that I found in a library book BUT plot twist, I never got my actual yearbook because I dropped out of high school two months before graduation due to mental health issues. The sons of bitches got my money, though, that they did.


@Heat Signature holy shit


Did anyone go to high school with people who are now famous?? What did their yearbook pages say??


@Rock and Roll Ken Doll One of my classmates was on a Forbes 30 under 30 list and appears on Bloomberg News sometimes. She was voted Most Theatrical or something. Also a kid from my class has a WSOP bracelet, and a bunch of people are super scientists I think.


@Rock and Roll Ken Doll
I went to high school with Joy Williams of The Civil Wars! She was a senior when I was a freshman, and she was the student body president. At the first high school assembly I ever went to, she spoke to us and then sang us a song.


@Rock and Roll Ken Doll I was two years behind Aziz Ansari, but I don't have the yearbook with his senior stuff in it. :(


And are people always like, "pull out your yearbook and prove you went to school with him!" and then you think "but then they'll look for my picture and see my terrible haircut and skin!"?

That's the situation at my house.


@Rock and Roll Ken Doll I can't believe I'm posting this here, I feel like I'm breaking some sort of secret code. Our high school had a student-run online magazine that came out once a month. Aziz was a regular contributor. Here's one of his articles. Don't worry, none of the jokes make sense to me anymore either.



@Rock and Roll Ken Doll The people who went to my school are enough older than me that I don't have yearbooks with them. My parents know their parents, though, which cracks me up.


@Rock and Roll Ken Doll This is more along the lines of infamous, but I apparently went to high school with the guy who shot at the White House in an attempt to assassinate Obama in the fall of 2011. No prediction of this in any yearbooks I've seen.


The guy from my high school is now dating a well-known Madonna knock-off and playing a firefighter on teevee. I didn't know him well, but I definitely didn't see that coming!


@Rock and Roll Ken Doll I was three years behind a guy who went on to become a fairly famous tattooist (as famous as tattooists get, that is) who's been on a few TV shows about tattooing. I don't know what is yearbook thing said (and I have no idea where all of mine are at the moment) but I recall him being all over the senior class's "zany antics" photos, in his Sex Pistols-esque garb. But then on one of the TV shows he appeared in, he claimed to be an outcast in high school whom nobody liked! I assume he was going for that whole "credibility through adversity" thing. I din't know him too well, so I guess it could be true...but those photos make me skeptical!


@Hellcat Ugh, forgive my typos; new kitten on lap.


@Rock and Roll Ken Doll I went to HS with Jack from Days of Our Lives.

*drops the mic*

*feels old but okay with that*


@cinnamonskin Sandra Bullock went to one of the other high schools in my town at the same time I did. She was a few years older, but still. I'm old.

(However, if I look half as good as she does these days, I'll be happy with that.)


This just reminds me that my 10-year high school reunion is coming up, and I am definitely not going.

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@meetapossum My school didn't have a five or a ten because everyone is a bunch of slackers, apparently. Then they had a fifteen and it was $70 bucks a head and I'd just gotten separated from my ex and that was way too much money to spend an entire evening having this conversation:
Classmate: Are you here alone?
Me: Yeah, my ex and I separated a couple months ago.
Classmate: Oh, I'm sorry to hear that!
Me: Don't be sorry, it's a good thing!
Classmate: (awkwardly) Oh. Then...congratulations?

It was twenty years last year and I have no idea if they had anything.


@fondue with cheddar I think the one they're planning is $50 a head. It's just, besides the people I still talk to from high school, I don't give a shit about them. I don't want to stand around a room and make small talk with people when literally the only thing we have in common is the fact that we went to high school together.


@meetapossum I regret not going to my 10-year reunion! I made a conscious decision not to go, because I realized (a) the only people I liked from high school I was still in touch with (b) my desire to go was 100% based on a 80s movie fantasy of dazzling my dectrators with my beauty and success. While I am vastly improved since high school (it would be impossible not to be), this struck me as a petty motivation to go to the reunion, unworthy of the successful, higher-minded person I have become.

I regret becoming a higher-minded, nobler person. I prefer the revenge fantasy. I have a feeling my nearly-complete doctorate in an obscure academic discipline would have showed them all they were wrong about me!


@meetapossum I had a lot of fun at my ten-year, but it was literally just everybody hanging out at a bar downtown. And instead of charging they took donations for a local charity.


@meetapossum Me too. The Facebook group that's been made just to set up the damn thing sent me in to such a rage that it really underlined the thought I've been having for the last ten years - I really don't want to go. I'm in touch with all most of my friends and some of the jerks that will be there ruined my own yearbook for me by printing a cruel nickname I must have been called behind my back (because I'd never been called it to my face) in there under my nicknames section. Thanks for ruining my few decent high school memories dipshits.


Evidence of me during my senior year of high school is minimal - not because I purposefully shied away from activities, but because I was (am?) pathologically forgetful and missed the team/group photo days or neglected to submit anything personalized (photos, quotes, etc.) for editorial consideration. Hell, I don't even own my senior yearbook since I forgot to buy it (during the two or so weeks you could submit your request). This is also the reason why I wasn't in NHS (forgot the forms!). I wouldn't be at all surprised if there is just a big ? in lieu of a picture on the senior portrait page (which is fine by me, I overplucked my eyebrows in my teens).

Girl Named Jack

For some reason our class operated under the assumption that "quotes" should actually be the catchphrases we used most often. There were a few outliers that had inspirational-type quotes, but mainly it was just utterly inane drivel-slang, and now I don't remember what any of them meant, including mine.


I went to an all girls Catholic school (graduating class of 87) and was voted "SASSIEST", still my crowning achievement in life, some eight years on.

I quoted a lot of terrible emo bands (and also Atmosphere) in my little paragraph and me and two of my friends all included a My Chemical Romance lyric in our blurbs, but in different languages (IT WAS 2005, THINGS WERE DIFFERENT THEN). Also no one was allowed to wear glasses in the senior portraits and so I don't even look like myself, rude.


@snackcarts No glasses allowed? That is rude!


They got rid of senior quotes in the yearbook my senior year. But I was voted Most Theatrical alongside one of my oldest guy friends. There's a terrible photo of us in the yearbook with a costume mannequin topped with a Hamlet prop skull.


I was voted nothing, but I remember when picking out my senior portrait picture my mom made me pick the one I would be least embarrassed about "when it's on the news that you've been appointed as a judge". Because they totally use high school pictures in their decisions.


OH MAN high school yearbook. I went to a tiny residential school (think Hogwarts for extreme nerds of the math and science variety). There were only 60-something people in my graduating class. They decided to be DIFFERENT and put the pictures in reverse alphabetical order, so for once in my life, I got to be near the front of the section (maiden name started with a W). We all had our senior pictures taken on the same day, and I remember the photographer had this one black velvet thing and pearl necklace that we all had to wear. It was like a boatneck velvet dickie, to make it look like we were wearing something FANCY instead of tshirts from the local thrift store. My greatest shame is that my senior quote was copied from my boyfriend, who used it as his senior quote the previous year. It was a line of poetry he wrote himself. Not terrible, but not AT ALL representative of me. Which, come to think of it, really says a lot about many of the choices I made in high school.

We also did senior wills - did anyone else do this? - where you had a strict character count. It was written as if you were dying and you had to leave your belongings/skills/whatever to younger students. It's written in so much code I can hardly decipher it now, lots of inside jokes and abbreviations. All the senior wills were published in a separate booklet, which I still have tucked inside my yearbook.

maybe partying will help


Oh man I thought that was just a thing that happened in Megan McCafferty books.


@Tiktaalik YES, SENIOR WILLS! Not everyone did them (they weren't a requirement like a yearbook blurb) and they were published in the last issue of the school newspaper for the year, but were roughly the same thing. I left Poppycock (the food product) to one of my favorite underclassmen because we were both really mature.


@snackcarts They got rid of the senior will for our class, and we were RIPSHIT.


Citizen Christy

I distinctly remember not submitting a quote and the yearbook class teacher (yes, it was a class), who doubled as the newspaper class teacher (also a class for some reason--I was one of the editors), inserted an inside joke about bird flu at the last minute. I still don't know how I feel about it.


"She barely has a face. Under her yearbook picture is said 'not pictured.'"


Also, the best pictures in my senior class were:
- the girl who used a picture of herself in a cosplay outfit with white wig and mechanical wings
- the boy who photoshopped his head onto a picture of Rambo


@anachronistique How did this happen I must know


@cinnamonskin We got to choose our own pictures, the school didn't really put a lot of effort into overseeing the yearbook, and the teacher who sponsored the club didn't care if stuff wasn't openly offensive. Win-win!


One of my friends decided to write my name in my yearbook in big, beautiful, calligraphic script and got so wrapped up in making it pretty that she -- hilariously -- misspelled it. It took up like half a page. This is basically my favorite memory of high school.


Winner class brain, runner up best hair. I quoted Julius Caesar and Gigi's Aunt Alicia. In a Dave Matthews Band themed yearbook. I was so happy to leave for college.....


I spent SO much time picking a quote, it was like a BIG deal. And I only listed one of my activities (lit mag editor) because I felt superior to all those kids who did a billion things and man I was a pretentious little so-and-so.

I ended up going with Douglas Adams, the long version of "I may not have gone where I intended to go but I think I have ended up where I needed to be". Which honestly only gets truer as I get older.


My parents took my senior portrait in our underlit living room (in college, someone told me to my face, "Oh thank GOD, from your lookbook photo I thought you were PSYCHO!") and me and my best friend traded senior quotes (In that she "quoted" me and I "quoted" her). So yeah, basically I was Over It.


@muddgirl ALSO the highlight of my senior year was when my good friend on the school newspaper put ME in her goodbye editorial! My name in the paper!


"when I look down, I just miss all the good stuff, and when I look up, I just trip over things.”

yeah, at least half the girls in my graduating class went with Ani Difranco.

honey cowl

This is the best. There were many cringeworthy moments in my high school yearbooks, but at least I still appreciate my señor quote.

(the seniors the year before me spray-painted "senors 200x" on the parking lot. misspelling, not play on words. I now refer only to high school señors.)


Wow, Emma and Jia - you are both so beautiful I'm a little afraid of yous.


My senior quote was this:
"We came here from a dying world. We drift through the universe, from planet to planet, pushed on by the solar winds. We adapt and we survive. The function of life is survival."
-Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

I am both proud of, and creeped out by my high school self.


I found my yearbooks recently and went through them while drunk one night. The best picture was of my sitting on my friend's lap during dinner before a dance, and I'm wearing a barely-ass covering leopard print dress and knee-high motorcycle boots. I was 16 and a Senior. I laughed and sent him a photo of it with my iphone, and his response was "now I know where I got the leopard print fetish from".


@Brunhilde His guitar is leopard print too.

My class hasn't had any reunions and it's been 16(!) years.


Oh dear oh dear, I was awful- My senior quote was from Nietzsche. I thought I was such a hot shit smart kid. *Throws self away* I was also voted "most unpredictable," which, who can say?


Just before we were all expected to turn in our yearbook quotes, our school issued a message that they wouldn't allow any abbreviations or "secret messages", so all my friends made up these very dada-esque quotes like "The boy dropped the ball, bounce bounce bounce" to confuse the administration. It didn't effect my quote at all, though, and I've always thought it might make a nice epitaph: "I'm glad it's over, I never liked any of you anyway."

(This wasn't actually true, I'm still friends with many people I knew from high school now, 25 years later. I just thought it was funny. Also I am wearing ripped up long underwear in my photo and I have enormous frizzy 80s hair.)


My yearbook quote was messed up to the point where it didn't make any sense. I live in fear of my old classmates looking back and thinking I was stupid.


I didn't get any superlatives, unless you count Salutatorian. My senior yearbook quote was a "march to the beat of your own drummer" line from Thoreau, a sentiment that I still believe in and live up to well enough.

In junior high, I had a wannabe-badass friend who signed my yearbook and wrote A.D.I.D.A.S. beneath her name. I didn't know who Korn was yet and I didn't get it.

February Revolution

I skipped yearbook picture day and never bought one, so I have no idea what they even did with missing people. I do not regret having no photos of myself during that terribly awkward period.

I found out about the ten-year reunion when someone posted a story on Facebook that the location where it had been held burned down the next day. This turned out to be the ideal solution to the dilemma of whether to attend a reunion.


My senior yearbook page was a crossword puzzle (written by me). I was the only person with no pictures.

Luckily I was in 7,000 clubs and had a penchant for costumes, so there are lots of pictures of me scattered elsewhere in the book, not to mention all the art I did for it.

There's even a picture of me dressed as Frank-n-Furter, as I've just flipped through it to confirm.


In my senior photo, the photo studio Photoshopped my chin mole off without asking me if I even wanted it removed. But the weird thing was that everyone else in my graduating class thought it was a big deal and were way more upset about it than I was. Like, people I barely knew came up to me, all outraged, "They took off your mole!! Why?!". I had no idea my chin mole was so popular.


@milkbreath Haha! It's not a blemish, it's my face. One kid in my school had Port-Wine Stain birthmark and they photoshopped it off. So strange.


Intellectually, I am grateful to be late-bloomer. But sometimes I see one of those coltish limbed glossy-haired teens with an intuitive sense for which parts of themselves to leverage and which to conceal, and I smother a little stab of regret.

In case you were wondering, yes, I am Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed.




@beezus. srsly, I think they would have been sweet to us, but maybe made fun of my Sassy magazine locker collage. And that I took a girl to prom. And went to a rave after? And then went to see Better Than Ezra?

Actually, now that I write that, being a high school weirdo was rather awesome.


Mine was along the lines of "This is the American dream in action my man! We'd be fools not to ride this strange torpedo all the way out to the end" from Fear and Loathing because I was obsessed with Hunter S. Thompson and the concept of the American dream. And I won an award for being the best athlete (make or female) on a club team. Yeah I loved high school, can't really deny it.

Regina Phalange

Aw, Logan, I love that Teresa of Avila quote. I'm pretty sure I almost used that one myself.
I went to a super-strict Catholic school, and senior portrait day sticks out in my mind because we had to wear tank tops for the pictures (so sleeves wouldn't stick out under the robes? or something?), and I found a really cute one that was a tiiiny bit sexy.
I was SUPER shy about my body, but the cutest guy in school totally did a double-take when I walked in. Only took four years, but VICTORY WAS MINE.


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The best part of the whole yearbook-superlative business is that when I was a senior and on the yearbook staff a girl who did not win "Best Looking" demanded a recount because she didn't believe that she lost. We recounted and she still did not win.

She is currently in the running for Miss Texas this week.


I used a quote from Andy Warhol; I believe it went "And all you had to do was know you were in the future, and that's what put you there. The mystery was gone, but the amazement was just starting." Equal parts dorky, artsy, editorial (I stressed for AGES about starting a sentence with "And" but ultimately felt I couldn't alter it without extensive notation that would look awkward), pretentious, optimistic, and non-controversial. A perfect portrait of me at 17.

I was also a yearbook editor, and we had a very fancy yearbook, because in addition to our photos and quotes, and yearbook-taken candids, we all had a page dedicated to us by our parents (our school drew from two towns, one very wealthy and one not quite so much, but the pressure to participate in the senior yearbook was quite strong and most families did as large a page as they could afford) and most people got together with their friends to design a group page/double-page spread, which you had to submit on legal-size paper to be scanned. If you were part of a Serious Couple, you might also have a couple page/half page dedicated to your (eternal, obviously) love for each other.

Oh, and I lived up to my yearbook page in the sense that I became a magazine editor, and thus have basically just continued working with Adobe publishing and design software for 14 years, ALTHOUGH I believe I am also one of the last members of my editorial generation to have ever measured anything in picas. Which I don't miss, but ah, yes, a little.


I used a U2 lyric in my writeup. (I've conquered my past/The future is here at last/I stand at the entrance/To a new world I can see).
1989, man. A different time.

I've actually been debating how much longer I want to lug around my yearbooks. I don't know the last time I cracked one open, and every time I move I think about just recycling them.

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