In the decade since high school

When I was in 8th grade all I talked about was high school; I couldn’t wait to become a high schooler. It wasn’t about the cache of challenging academics, the dances, the new friends, nor the first loves. What I was most enraptured by was the idea of our 10 year high school reunion. I hadn’t yet set foot on my new campus and I was thrilled with returning 10 years in the future. Bizarre? Maybe. But, as Carrie Bradshaw would say, I couldn’t help but wonder… In the decade after graduation, who would we become? What adventures would behold us? What events or odd habits might we look back on and with 20/20 vision call it foreshadowing of our worlds today?

Facebook dismantled my dream. Now with a click and a scroll, I can see more about many high school classmates than I ever would wish to know. The travels, the new apartments, the marriages, the babies. Not only am I aware of what has happened and when, I know what the husbands look like, I’ve seen the house tour, and am caught up on baby’s napping schedule. Facebook ruined the reunion.

This summer marks the 10 years since I graduated and I’ve heard here and there that something is being planned for a get together to celebrate. Flights to California are obscenely expensive and I save those tickets for family functions or emergencies only. So no reunion party for me. #sadtrombones.

I’ve been reticent to spend much time on Facebook these days because of its “time-sucking” nature and the black holes the develop in space when I enter the site. In her free time, a high school classmate designed and created a website that shares all the pertinent personal info one could glean from social media. Now I don’t have to be at the reunion or stalk find anyone on Facebook to discover just who works where, who is married, with babies, has moved, or traveled the world. Sure, I’m missing out on the stories behind these adventures, and thats too bad. But that doesn’t make the site any less awesome.

***

After looking through the photos and updates of old friends my experience quickly soured. I couldn’t put my finger on it right away until I tried to following the feeling as it surged through my core. The feeling tightened and took hold like it has millions of times before… jealousy + fear. The apex of these is the fount of all the negative thoughts and emotions that swirl in my body and brain. Oh, he’s a VP at a strategy firm, he’s a doctoral fellow, she’s a professor, and she’s a lawyer… My classmates are brilliant no dount about that. And accomplished. In the ten years since high school they have been busy in grad school, writing code, forming copy, and building a client base. And I felt all of a sudden like I hadn’t done anything worthy to measure up. I know this isn’t true but I couldn’t shake the feeling and was really glad I wouldn’t be at some event with all these people needing to explain the last 10 years of my life.

I walked away from the computer and tried to put the feelings out. But later they came back, this time reformed and with an astute response. That’s not what I’m about.

I’ve worked in sales running a profitable and award-winning business as the lead manager. I’ve worked as the go-to gal for an Internet celebrity and had some of the biggest names in that world on metaphorical speed dial. I’ve worked with executives at the largest retreat center in North America aiding in the process of serving the nearly 35,000 people per year that walked through those doors.

But neither fortune, fame, nor influence could keep me. That’s not what I’m about.

What I’m doing with my life doesn’t lend itself easily to a pithy subtitle under my graduation picture. And so it feels hard to explain; it can look I’m not doing much of anything. But just the opposite is true. When forging a new trail up the mountain one doesn’t speed along making progress with ease, no. The brush must be cut, thorns avoided, burrs removed, a compass consulted, and so on. It takes time. And it’s hard work.

When King Arthur and the knights set out for the holy grail they each entered the forest at a different point. No one could follow in another’s footsteps. I’ve made that mistake, thinking I’d find my hero and follow their lead up the trail of success garnering fame and fortune along the way. But it always ended with a shallow, hollow feeling, no matter how many different mentors I’d emulate.

My path is rocky and I wouldn’t call my achievements as successful as I dream they can be. But I’m proud of no longer feeling beholden to carry out a dream that’s not mine. And that’s made all the difference.

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