Sometimes I usher at local theatres around Charlotte (spoiler alert, the writer behind Charlotte On Acid lives in Charlotte). Anyway, this week I got to see Rock of Ages. When a friend of mine ushered for the show before, he had a few people leave during intermission because it was the deeply religious show they were expecting. I have to say, I’m impressed that they made it all the way to intermission because it’s a pretty suggestive show.

While we were waiting for the doors to open the lobby had classic rock blasting over the speakers. It’s a loud show, so I guess the goal was to get everyone used to the noise. Anyway, people started dancing. Okay, maybe I was the only one dancing, but that’s still a person, right?

To anyone else, a college woman in thigh high boots and a dress dancing at a rock show is probably not a big deal. The thing is, a few months ago that college girl would have been anyone but me.

I’ve sort of been expected to be a role model since I was in middle school. Because of my academic record and because for a while I thought I was the only godless kid at my school (not actually true so yay for small town high schools!), I felt a lot of pressure not to fuck everything up. Even the administration at my school tended to look the other way. The only fight I ever got into didn’t even warrant a written warning.

The perception I got was that a good role model dressed modestly, stayed in the background of most conversations, managed to keep up good grades and a perfect reputation, and never talks about anything controversial (which in my case meant rarely talking at all). This is not the person I was around my friends most of the time, but even then there was an unspoken line that didn’t need to be crossed.

There’s something about rock music that essentially makes everything bad in your life seem alright again, and it brings a lot of clarity that you can’t really get from anything else. In addition to Rock Of Ages being a really great show and the cast being really cool, I had a realization that I was probably the absolute fucking worst role model when I was in school. Not only did I have an insanely high opinion of my own importance since nobody actually gave a damn about me, but even if someone did take cues from me they’d be wasting their lives just like I was.

I wish I’d gotten into more fights and danced more and sang louder before they cut our choir program. I wish I’d dressed the way I wanted and put so much Sharpie ink on my arms that it soaked into my bloodstream. I wish I’d cussed in class (and in my essay on Romeo and Juliet because it was basically an entire paper devoted to saying “that’s fucked up”). I wish I’d have stuck more stuff on my locker and kicked it in when the lock broke and I got assigned a new one. I wish I’d have yelled at more of my teachers and I wish I’d have done something productive when my school gutted good programs and replaced them with shitty ones. I wish I’d come out and been myself because the way I was living just flat out sucked.

Everyone has regrets from high school. I could probably deal with having regrets about detentions and broken bones, but having to regret the entire person you used to be is more of a learning experience than any failed class.