Jesse Stoddard

Life After High School: Interview with Polly Ann Anderson

Today’s interview with Polly Ann Anderson is part of my ongoing blog-to-book project: Life After High School: Secrets To A Successful Life By Those Who Have Had Twenty Years To Think About It (or) What They Didn’t Teach Us Gen Xers In High School. If you missed the last post, click here, otherwise, you can start at the beginning here.

Polly Ann Anderson

Portland, Oregon

My Life In High School

Polly Anderson AHS 1996

Who were you in High School and how did you feel about it?

The majority of my high school years I think I was a pretty normal, mostly happy person.

I definitely had some traumatic times that shaped and changed who I was and still am. The end of our junior year my parents paid to have me kidnapped and taken to a lock down/residential treatment facility in LaVerkin, Utah.

I had no contact with the outside world or anyone other than my parents (via letters only) for the first two months! I couldn’t even wear shoes the first three! The best way to even come close to describing the eight months spent there is like the movie “Girl Interrupted”, times twenty!

I told my parents if I wasn’t allowed to come home and graduate with my class, I would walk out the facility the second I turned 18 and their $50k+ investment (me) would be gone!

So, My senior picture was taken by my parents on a visitation at a park in St. George, then sent to the AHS yearbook committee and I was allowed to come home January 1996 for the second half of our senior year.

Coming back was hard at first, I definitely wasn’t the same person. I was paranoid, sober, overweight, depressed, and had the unshakable fear of being sent back! With the help of Zoloft, turning 18 and moving out and graduating, I eventually shook most of the side effects affecting who I was and was able to feel like myself again. I did pick up some permanent changes and/or personality traits I hadn’t had before.

What did you think your life would become when you graduated?

I don’t really think I thought about it too much! I was so excited to be free, and with no set goal in mind, I guess I just took it day by day.

My Life After High School

Polly Anderson

What happened in your life to you, for you, and by you in the last twenty years (how have you used your time and who have you become)?

Where do I begin?!

I moved to Bend, Oregon for college in Jan of 1997 and ended up staying in Oregon (excluding the four months I moved home in 2005).

After two terms, I dropped out of school and started working. I had jobs ranging from a busser at Applebee’s, an actress on the Crooked River Dinner Train, performing in a Wild West murder mystery, to a bartender by day and exotic dancer by night!

The large majority of the last twenty years to present I’ve worked as a bartender and caterer. Some of the more memorable events I’ve worked have included speakers like Anderson Cooper, Mitt Romney, former Governor of Oregon Ted Kulongoski, Paul Ryan, Arrianna Huffington, and most recently Jay Leno.

One event that changed my life was when my index and middle fingers being cut off New Year’s Eve 1999!

They were able to sow my middle finger back on, but I lost the first digit of my index finger. It took quite a few years for me to fully accept the loss and not feel ashamed, different, inadequate, or insecure about touching others with that hand.

So, …..I spent a lot of my 20’s pretty darn drunk! I may have been a lush and a bit wild, but I had countless adventures going to concerts, road trips, Sky diving, Mexican vacations, etc.

My current life is considerably less exciting and I’ve definitely settled down over the past 6 years though I’ve never had children, or been married.

My Life Lessons

What were the major life lessons and wisdom that you gained during your journey over the last 20 years?

I learned what it truly meant to be treated right and have a mutually respectful relationship. I’ve experienced heartbreak and lived—though I don’t think I’ll ever heal 100%—and I’ve come to appreciate and realize how important family is and how truly lucky I am to have such dedicated and loving parents

Letter To My High School Self

If you could write your 18-year-old self (or however old you were when you graduated) a letter, and send it back in time, what would you say? What lessons, wisdom, encouragement, or warnings would you give yourself?

It would say, “No matter how annoying and nagging she seems now, LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER!!! She is and will always be right, and everything she warns about does come true. Don’t smoke it will give you wrinkles and make you look old. Keep your mouth shut, drink plenty of water, remove your make up at night, always walk with a purpose, and act like a lady.”


In the next post, I will continue with more great interviews, like this one with Tara Starkovich.

Are you from Generation X? I want to hear what you think! Please comment below and participate in the conversation about What They Didn’t Teach Us Gen Xers In High School. What do you wish someone told you when you were eighteen?

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Jesse Stoddard


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