I Erased Myself From My Yearbook

My girlfriend from way back when, Dani Gillman, is a hardcore advocate for children with Autism, including her own adorable little girl.

When Dani discovered that her daughter's school had basically eliminated all three of the special education classes from the yearbook due to a "printing oversight" she was livid - and decided to get vocal. (I don't blame her).


For me, multiple aspects of her story struck a chord, especially as I get closer to becoming a parent myself. In her blog, Dani asked, "Do your kids read and re-read yearbooks all the time, too?!"
I thought, well, I don't have a child yet, so I really don't know... But what did I do with my yearbooks?

Oh yeah... I recalled and recoiled from the thought simultaneously. At one point in junior high, I erased my photograph from one of my yearbooks entirely. Yep. That's right. I erased it, leaving only a smudgy white box. I thought I looked so hideous that the photo should never have been printed in the first place, and I wanted to more or less, delete it.

I think about this now and I have very mixed emotions. In a weird way, I'm happy that I did it because I'm now forced to deal with the regret surrounding it and can tell my daughter what a mistake it was to erase a piece of my history and how terrible it was that I ever felt that way about myself to begin with. I want to use it as a tool to teach her that you need to embrace who you are no matter what, and that one day, you'll appreciate all the childhood photos of yourself, even if you're not a fan of them now.

But, thinking about this also made me sad, because it occurred to me that Dani's daughter wouldn't have even had the chance to hate and possibly erase her yearbook photo had Dani not raised hell over it with the school. Fortunately, the company that printed the yearbooks will be doing a reprint, so Dani's daughter will have that keepsake. It still doesn't resolve all of the issues surrounding the debacle in the first place though, nor does it undo the school's repeated failures to utilize this instance in a beneficial manner that could've had a markedly positive impact on the entire student body, but at least she'll have her yearbook. Hopefully she won't go erasing anything (and I doubt she will), but clearly she still won't have the opportunity to engage in one other important yearbook-related tradition that Dani and I both happily did when we were in junior high - exchange autographs and goofy little K.I.T. notes, like the one pictured here that Dani herself wrote for me in my own yearbook in the 8th grade at Portola Junior High. I love that she said, "Don't forget me," as if I could!

Anyway, the scenario at Dani's daughter's school is a tough pill to swallow. It never should've happened - and while it was a mistake, it should've been managed and handled very differently, especially since multiple occasions were presented to do so.

But perhaps most importantly, nobody should ever be erased from a yearbook, for any reason.