“Did you end up who you thought you would become?”
~Graham Colton, “1981”
Know what I realized this morning? Come November, it’ll be time for my ten-year high school reunion. It’ll be five years since the last one (we always have them over Thanksgiving weekend, since more people are back in town), and in just a few short weeks, it will have been an entire decade since I walked across the stage to accept my diploma.
That. Is. Insane.
No, seriously, it’s almost impossible for me to believe. It might sound strange, considering all that’s transpired since June of 2001, but sometimes it honestly feels like only yesterday that I was back at LMHS, studying for my classes, writing for the school paper, working on the steering committee for our big Involvement Day, and grumbling over gym class (least athletic person ever, right here). I can see those memories with picture-perfect vivacity, can feel them as though they’re actually happening. There was the speech I gave in front of an auditorium full of parents, school board members, and community leaders for the media symposium Mr. Pezza asked me to help coordinate. There was the time spent decorating the hallways for spirit week. There were the after-school trips with friends to Rita’s Water Ice. There was the studystudystudy! frenzy for AP tests and the pure jubilation when I got my scores. There was gift-wrapping for charity as part of Interact and National Honor Society, interviewing teachers as part of the newspaper staff, and going to Mexican dinners as part of the Spanish club. There were presentations, slideshows, papers, and the Larry King Live format talk show we did in American Studies. There was AP English, the most challenging and most rewarding course I’ve ever (college included) taken. There was my plethora of multi-colored pens, because taking notes is always fun when it’s in turquoise, pink, green, purple, and orange. There were great times, frustrating times (getting so frustrated with pre-calculus that I tossed the textbook across the floor comes to mind), and, most of all, memorable times.
Ten years ago, I knew exactly what and who I wanted to become. I was headed to college for journalism and my biggest dream was to work for our ABC affiliate. Several of the journalists there had inspired me so, and I was lucky enough to form bonds with three of them in particular. They were amazing mentors and sources of support, and when I did have the opportunity to both intern and work at the station … well, let’s just say that calling it a special experience would be a huge understatement. Living out my dreams, getting to work with these talented journalists who had lit such a spark in me, is something I will never forget and always treasure.
But dreams evolve. For a lot of people, they probably change entirely, but that hasn’t been the case for me. Journalism will always be a passion of mine. I’ll always watch the news, read the newspapers, and jump at chances to get involved. But creative writing, taking these stories that live in my head and heart and putting them to paper … there is nothing like it. It’s an invigoration, a joy, a love, and, for me, a way of living. It’s a spark that grew into an everlasting flame and a passion that only gets stronger. I’m about two-thirds of the way finished the first draft of my current manuscript, and I’m being honest when I say I love those characters, love going on their journeys, even more today than I did when I sat down to write Reflections of Me last August. Those characters have a piece of my heart. Writing has a piece of my soul.
Without a doubt, my high school self knew that. A career that involved writing was always the plan. But sometimes the person we thought we’d become follows a different path. It can be a difficult decision to make, to veer off and try something new, but if we embrace it, who knows where we’ll end up? Sometimes following that different path helps us blaze our own. It’s intimidating, uncertain, and sometimes scary, but no matter what the outcome, the reward comes in the journey. It sounds corny and cliche, but I honestly believe that. In many ways, I’m the same person I was back in high school, but in many others, I’m entirely different. I think that’s a good thing. After all, we can’t walk toward our future if we just keep standing still.
How about you? Have your aspirations stayed the same over the years, or have they changed? Who were you back in high school? Have you gone to your reunions? I enjoyed catching up with friends and classmates back in 2006 and am looking forward to doing the same this fall.