A friend and I were catching up over the phone the other night and we made our way into a conversation about our peers from high school. It really got me thinking. Now, before you eye roll and brace yourself for a “thank god we got out of that place” speech, you need to know that I loved high school. I struggled, made some serious miscalculations, and certainly no longer identify with the person I was back then, but high school will always be a place of sweet nostalgia for me.
Like many hormone-fueled, self-righteous teenagers in high school, I thought I had it all figured out. I mentally segregated my peers into their respective stereotypes, consciously deciding who was worthy of my time – while simultaneously praying I would be deemed worthy of theirs. Looking back now as a (mature?) adult, a lingering sense of regret and anxiety hovers in the back of my mind. What did I miss out on while I was judging them? Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and I now catch myself left peeking through the looking glass wondering what might have been “if”…
The great thing is that I’ve grown. I stopped being that same insecure adolescent and I’ve worked consciously year after year since high school (especially since my sophomore year of college) to be an aware and less judgmental person. Now when I see social media posts from estranged classmates, I’m tuned into the fact that they’re all pretty amazing people –they’ve obviously grown and changed too.
I’ve watched my classmates develop into people I’m proud to know. They are going out and making their impact on the world. Whether it’s in business, government or the arts – it’s unbelievable what people already accomplished.
The class of 2010 made it and I’m going to continue to root for them (even if they have no idea).
After this realization, I can’t help but wonder about the image I project these days. I hope they all see me as having progressed too. Do they, like me, silently cheer over “I got the job!” Facebook posts and think “Wow, she seems way cooler than in high school,” or is it too little too late to make a positive impact?
I hope not.
It’s not easy to erase the image you hold of someone from the past – especially if you have a bitter opinion of who they were. But I hope that everyone I’ve ever known settles into the people they want to be, who they’ve worked hard to be. I hope that other people always give them a chance to be that person. I know I will.