HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE, 1982
At the time, I only had a vague idea of what I wanted to do with my life. Write, but for personal fame and fortune. Be a housewife and a mom, taking care of my family. I knew those goals weren’t necessarily etched in stone. But that was what I was aiming for. I pictured an ideal life because, in my young mind, there was no real concept of reality. I never thought that things could go wrong.
It’s something we all go through as we mature ~ that sobering realization that happiness in life isn’t guaranteed for anyone, no matter how much we wish for it as young high school graduates. Everyone tells us that we have our whole lives ahead of us and that we should enjoy the ride because we only get one chance. And our Elders try to forewarn us that nothing ever turns out the way we plan. Of course, we don’t listen…because we must learn the hard way: through experience.
FAST FORWARD, 30 YEARS ~ 2012
The world has changed so much in 30 years. When I left high school, we never dreamed that we would be able to re-connect with our classmates through something called Facebook. Of course, we left our then-phone numbers in signed yearbooks with the “Keep in Touch” sentiments but life gets busy after high school.
We experience. We learn. We change. We get stronger. We grow. We mature. We realize that all of the drama of high school really IS trivial stuff after all. And that happiness is not guaranteed just because we wish for happy lives.
I do now have a better understanding of how things were when I was in high school. That young girl on graduation day was only a small facet of the person I would eventually become. She didn’t know as much as she thought she did (ha! one of life’s BIG lessons). I do hold that girl close to my heart because she does keep me young. I’m just as much of a dreamer, today, as I was back then because it has always been my means of “escape” during difficult times.
I have come to realize just how important it is to help people and show compassion. Relationships with my family and friends are paramount. I don’t place value in material possessions because, to me, that isn’t true wealth.
I have learned that taking care of myself isn’t selfish, but necessary for survival. For many years, I didn’t value who I am. But I certainly do now.