I think we can all agree the '90s were a blast, but that doesn't mean it met all of our expectations. What '90s kids thought high school would be like, for example? Well, that wasn't exactly the reality. I blame it on the super-cool shows and movies we grew up watching, in which characters like Cher Horowitz and Jordan Catalano made you yearn for the days you'd be able to roam the hallowed halls of your own high school. Alas, what you found when you got there was far less glamorous than the version of events that had been playing on repeat in your head since you started middle school.
Of course, what we watched wasn't entirely to blame for our perhaps over-reaching hopes for high school. The truth is that the '90s were a time when society was on the cusp of so much greatness. The Internet was just coming into prominence, cell phones were starting to look less comically huge, and the third wave of feminism was in full swing. Can you blame a girl for daydreaming about an upperclassperson experience rife with possibility?
Between the high school shenanigans we saw onscreen and the fact that we knew the world was changing, '90s kids were bound to be starry-eyed when we plucked our Chucks toward our lockers on the first day of ninth grade. Here are but a few of the things that weren't exactly what we had in mind.
1. Driving Cool Cars
Expectation: You would whip into the parking lot and pull into your spot (the one that was inexplicably always open for you) from the driver's seat of a true classic or a sporty ride you got for your Sweet 16.
Reality: You drove a used Honda Accord with 240,000 miles on it. Or your parents dropped you off. Or you rode the bus. Yikes.
2. The Dance-Off
Expectation: Prom, homecoming, or any other dance would inevitably involve a dance-off between the dueling cool kids. Naturally, it wouldn't be long before the entire school picked up the choreography.
Reality: Hit or miss, my friends. On a bad night, guys and girls would be milling about on different sides of the room in awkward silence. On a good night, you were slow dancing to K-Ci & JoJo or snaking around the room together while Quad City DJs "C'Mon 'N Ride It" blared over the speakers.
3. The PDA
Expectation: Couples would enjoy and inordinately large amount of free time making out against a locker, or in the courtyard or, you know, everywhere.
Reality: The one time you got brave enough to make out with your boyfriend under the bleachers during P.E, you scored detention for a week.
4. After-School Employment
Expectation: If you could squeeze a job into all of your extracurriculars, it would be somewhere exactly like Empire Records. And, in your head, you'd look exactly like Liv Tyler, too ... so there was that.
Reality: Your dad set you up with a gig as a sandwich artist at the Subway down the street from your school. On the plus side, you still make a mean B.L.T.
5. The Enviable Wardrobe
Expectation: High school was an endless parade of cute outfits, and frequent trips to the mall kept your wardrobe fully stocked for said cuteness. Mary Janes, knee socks and sweater sets, oh my!
Reality: As if! Should you be lucky enough to not have a uniform, your options weren't that endless — I spent the majority of '95 through '98 rotating out overalls, Umbros and JNCOs with babydoll Ts.
6. That One Teacher
Expectation: Regardless of whether you were on the outs with your mom, your BFF, or your boyfriend, there would always be that one wise teacher who served as the Yoda of your '90s high school years.
Reality: Mr. Feeny only exists in the TV. Woe is me. No, woe is us! Granted, some of us did score pretty fantastic teachers along the way — but none of them stuck around for OUR ENTIRE LIVES.
Expectation: Not only would you have the equivalent of an entire Sephora case stashed away in your purse for between-class touch-ups, but you also would be a total pro at applying it in dim fluorescent lighting.
Reality: Ahem. Do we really need to be reminded of the sparkly blue eyeshadow and dark liner-slash-clear-gloss phases — or that the few crumbly compacts in the bottom of our backpacks definitely came from the clearance section at Claire's?
8. The Sex
Expectation: We all assumed there would be some, and by some I mean a lot, and by a lot I mean it would be awesome.
Reality: If you did decide to ditch that purity ring at some point, you may or may not have lost your V-card in a smelly fishing camper parked in your boyfriend's backyard because he couldn't afford a swanky hotel room like in all the movies. I mean, er, hypothetically.
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