An invitation came up last week to a high school reunion being planned. For those who graduated between 1987 and 1989. Which is me. I graduated in 1989. Gulp. How can that have been 30 years ago?
I’m not entirely sure I want to go back to that period in time. No, it wasn’t terrible. I had some really great friends by the time I graduated from high school. I was really starting to feel like I knew who I was. Finally. After so much struggle.
I look at pictures from those four years and I remember how I felt at different times. Sometimes I’m envious of the naivety that girl had. So innocent. Sometimes I’m just sad for her because she really didn’t trust and believe in herself nearly enough.
What would you say to your younger self? If you could sit in the room with your sixteen year old self, what would you want that person to know? Or would you change anything?
I’m reading a book right now, where the characters have the chance to go back in time to anywhere they want and change the direction of their life. Maybe a point before a bad decision they made, or before saying yes to a marriage they knew would fall apart. It made me wonder – if I could go back in time – at what point in my life would I go and what would I change?
Could I change the devastating events that happened? Could I change the loss I have faced? Or is that part of some big plan that no matter what, it was meant to be and would happen no matter what? Would I go back to my 18 year old self in college, and say no to that college trip that would lead to the worst decision of my life, and regret and shame to this day? Would I go back to before being a single mom? Would I avoid the marriage proposal that would ultimately lead to a broken marriage?
We like to think if we could change the events of our lives, we would. All that terrible stuff that happened. All those things that caused the big hurts and wounds and cracks in us. But would we still be who we are today if we didn’t go through the ugly stuff?
I would absolutely say yes to having my family back. No question.
But I can tell you that event changed so much in me, and led me to so many places I never would have gone otherwise. If I had avoided the hurt of a broken marriage, I never would know the value of working through the tough and coming out stronger than before. I never would have found the genuine REAL love that I feel now. If I avoided all the dark stuff, I would not be where I am today. I would not know the value of what I have and the people in it.
Yes, it’s painful. Yes, it’s hard. And yes, most all of us would say they would never want to live through the struggles and challenges we have each faced – yet think of what was learned.
So, if I were to have the chance to sit with that sixteen year old from high school I would give her a big hug, and with a big smile on my face – tell her that it would all be OK. I would tell her to believe in herself, believe in her strength. I would want her to understand and believe that she is good enough and smart enough and pretty enough and funny enough and she can overcome all the hard.
“Never doubt yourself. Never believe that it’s your fault. Don’t ever think you asked for it or you deserve less. Don’t ever believe that who you are isn’t good enough, or that you have to change who you are for anybody or anything. You are perfect the way you are and you will get through all the hard. Don’t put your happiness in someone else’s pocket. You are in charge of your life. You are strong. You can do all things. Believe in yourself. Don’t be so afraid to be you.”
Maybe if I could have that conversation with my sixteen year old self, she wouldn’t be so reluctant to go back to that place in time where she felt so insecure and so full of doubt. So shy. Trying to find her way. Trying to be someone. Trying to figure out who she was, but so worried about what others thought and said and whispered behind her back on the bus and in the hallways.
I guess I have until Saturday July 20th to figure out if I can work past that teenage angst, and say yes to the high school reunion. To work through all that stuff from those four short years. The kids who made fun of the new kid (me). Not fitting in. The awkward hair cuts. First date. First kiss. Friends. Prom. Prom disaster. The friends who would stab you in the back. Four years isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things, but feels like forever when you’re in it. To go back to a high school reunion will feel in a way like going back in time, and feeling like that insecure kid that I was. I think of what I have gone through since and it is NOTHING in comparison to high school.
You are so much stronger than you think. Believe it to be true.