10 years ago, I was on the verge of becoming whoever I wanted to be. I was standing at the edge of college life, and the list of options for what was ahead really was endless. I was a graduate of the Class of '99 and while we weren't exactly sure if the world really was going end with Y2K, we knew that we were on the verge of something big. Looking back, that something big can only be classified as one thing...Life. As an 18 year old, you think you know it all (or at least that you're pretty close). You are sure that the world can't keep spinning without you and that it might as well revolve around you.
This past weekend, I attended my 10 year high school reunion. On one hand, it seems like just yesterday we were on our Senior Cruise or presenting our Senior Projects or performing in our last showing of "Guys and Dolls" or finally getting that acceptance letter to the school of our choice. On the other hand, so much real world life has happened since then, that there must have been a time warp somewhere that contains all the years that I'm sure have passed.
SO MUCH has happened since May of 1999, which was the last time that I saw most of my classmates....and I'm not just talking about hair and clothes :) These past 10 years have been filled with moving and college and classes and graduation and internships and making LOTS of mistakes and getting a few things right along the way and marriage and kids (for some of our classmates) and more moving and getting jobs and losing jobs and saying goodbye to fellow classmates and...Life.
I must admit that I was a little nervous to see those old friends and a little excited to catch up with them. Would they be as excited to see me as I was to see them? Just because we're "friends" on Facebook, does that mean we'll actually be able to engage in a real conversation? Outwardly, I haven't changed all that much (add a few pounds and take away some of the bouffant bangs), as evidenced by this lovely senior portrait...
...but inside, I'm a totally different person. I'm more mature. I know the things that are important in life. I know more of who I am than I did when I was that 18 year old girl. I wasn't surprised to see that some people hadn't changed. But that's ok, because we all grow at different times and in different ways.
I was able to have real conversations with people I hadn't spoken to in 10 years. Most people seemed genuinely interested in learning about my life, as I was with them. We were able to make new connections and were reminded why we were all friends to begin with. And, of course, as the night went on and especially after the "Free Beer" announcement was made, people began to open up in a whole new light. As one of about 10 sober people in the whole place, it really was quite the show...crazy dance moves and people spilling secrets that I never thought I'd hear and I laughed harder than I've laughed in a few weeks!
I spent a little time with my 1999 yearbook yesterday and after thinking about that pivotal year and reflecting on the last 10 years, here are a few things I've learned:
*We're all just people...band nerds, jocks and rednecks alike.
*Dreams change. My dream for 2009, according to my yearbook, was that I'd have a triple platinum album. I realize that that ceases to exist, but I'm ok with that. My dreams as a 28 year old don't have to be the same as that of an 18 year old.
*Just because someone was your best friend in elementary and high school and went on to be a horrible college freshman roommate doesn't mean that you can't laugh about it now!
*Treat people with the love and respect they deserve...because they might not be around for the next reunion.
*You should be prepared to hear any kind of news from any person at your high school reunions (I wasn't quite prepared for this one and I'm really still in shock by the announcements made by some friends I spoke with!).
*Who I was 10 years ago made me a better person today. I hope to be that much better in 2019.