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Nov. 12th, 2008

My ten-year high school reunion is apparently in the planning stages for next year. Through the beauty of Facebook, I've found/been found by several of the people who actually remember who I am (well, was). Sadly, as is usually the case, this kind of event is bringing back memories. I was not someone who particularly enjoyed high school, and so I was pretty damned pleased to graduate and get the hell out of Dodge (or Pasadena, as it were).

I spent most of my time in high school in the theater, or in Spanish class. Those were my passions, and they were what kept me sane (well, ish) through those four years. The summer before my senior year, life as I knew it fell apart when my father died suddenly. To try to keep myself in the game, I threw myself in every theatrical production my school did, and I spent my spare time with my Spanish teachers. Hell, my two Spanish teachers were the first people I told about my father at school. I admit, I still had some major problems with depression, but I managed to graduate. I applied to only one college, and it was the one farther from high school that I could find.

Everyone expected a lot of me - I was salutatorian of my class, and was considered one of the "smart ones" in my class. Everyone figured that, after I finished my fancy, far-off college, I would do something...important. Something big. Something that would validate their faith in me. I can't tell you how many people told me that they expected big things from me.

I went to college. I ended up surrounded by the "smart ones", and realized that really, I wasn't all that smart. I still spent time with the theater and Spanish departments, because the longer I studied them, the more excited I became by all their many facets. My senior year, I started losing my battle with depression again. Fortunately, this time I had a thesis to throw myself into, along with every theater production I could con my way into. it wasn't perfect, and it didn't always work, but it got me through to graduation.

To be honest, by the time I graduated I was so happy to be alive that I didn't even think about grad school at the time. (I wish I could say I was exaggerating, but...not so much. Not something I'm proud of.) I decided to take a year off, let myself sort of release the tension of that senior year. I got the first job I could (with SMART), and then...

Somehow, it's been five years since college. I haven't been on or near a stage in five years. I haven't used my Spanish since working for WaMu three years ago. I applied to graduate school, and didn't get accepted. I've learned to love gaming, and I've developed a more discerning taste in food and tea (read that: I've become a foodie and a tea snob). I've gotten married. And...yeah. All those big things I was supposed to do? All those great expectations? Not so much.

I don't know that I want to go all the way back out to Maryland just to show everyone what a disappointment I am. How can I face my Spanish teachers again? Sras. Watson and Beaver believed in me more than anything, and were certain that I was going to change the world.

Change the world. I can't even keep an apartment clean.


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Nov. 13th, 2008 07:08 am (UTC)
My eighth-grade science teacher told my mom at parent-teacher conferences that I "am going to be somebody important."

I am haunted by my failure to live up to that all the time.
Nov. 13th, 2008 09:50 am (UTC)
::rueful chuckle::
I'm going through the same rounds of thoughts re: my 10-year reunion next year, too. And I find our thoughts about our mutual college strikingly similar; I ended up with something of an inferiority complex after four years at R. I think that's the problem with going somewhere where everyone is so smart, or, at the very least, very outspokenly opinionated, which, under the Socratic method, goes a long way. If that's not your way (it wasn't in most things for me, although I have been accused of being a know-it-all more than once in my life), then you end up feeling dumb. Or, at least, I did.

I've come around to thinking that the 10-year reunion is only something that you go to if you actually want to. If there are people there that you want to talk with. Most of my impetus to go is to laugh at all the people who laughed at me when I was in high school, because *but of course* I will be doing soooo much better than all those football or tennis or cheerleader snobs, right? Wrong.

The bottom line is that very few people actually "change the world" in a big sense all by themselves. Even the ones who get solitary credit almost certainly had tons of followers/helpers to pick up the occasional slack. I think it's more important to remember that the best most of us can do is try to be good influences in our "hum-drum" lives. You are. You are kind and funny and loving and loved and there are many people who know you who would attest to your being a wonderful part of their lives. Your Spanish teachers will certainly see that as a huge success.

Anyway, don't feel like you *have* to go. If you want to, get in touch with a few of the people you actually want to get in touch with - perhaps your teachers. That's what I've done.

Nov. 13th, 2008 10:18 am (UTC)
I'm not sure if this is a rant on your behalf or a pep talk.
Honestly, I think anyone else's expectations of you are all hogwash. Not because you couldn't do any of it, but because how you live and what you do (or have not done)has never been anyone else's choice to make but yours. I'd hesitate to let other people's expectations devalue what you have, or the direction you have taken.

I know that it's easy to get suckered into thinking that you could/should have done more, could/should have become all the great things that other people thought you should be...but they're really not the ones that matter in your life, you are. What you think about yourself is paramount. If you're unhappy, change things. If you've found what you want in life, who has the right to tell you it isn't good enough?

Sometimes living through trauma and depression to come out on the other side, find happiness and a good life...that's a heck of a blessing.

anyone who thinks that's somehow second best has their head up their butt. Life rarely ends up how we thought it would.

(sorry if this was too rantish)

Nov. 13th, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
I was going to say a bunch of cool and encouraging things but the person known as quert beat me to it and said everything in a clearer and less rambling way than I would have anyway! :)

I will reiterate one point though: if you're happy, then don't let anyone else tell you that that isn't good enough. And just remember that at the very least, your friends love you the way you are, and for many of us, you have changed the world. I know one man in particular whose world you changed very much for the better. I know you made my world a better place.
Nov. 13th, 2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
a) If you're happy, who the hell cares? And you should totally flaunt the fact that you've found good things in life. You weren't happy in high school; you found a place where you are doing well. Go you. That's a serious accomplishment we tend to overlook.
b) Seriously, how many smart people accomplish Big Things in the first five years out of college? Some things sound more impressive on paper--people seem oddly impressed that I'm in grad school or that I'm married or whatever, and neither feels like I've contributed much to the world by doing it--but seriously.

I am kind of "lucky" in that I spent high school so depressed that they didn't even know if I'd make it to college. Everything since has been a pleasant surprise (and I do point to my crawling out of depression into a small happy life as my biggest single accomplishment--better than graduating college or doing grad school or any specific thing).
Nov. 13th, 2008 07:15 pm (UTC)
I went to my 10-year 3 years ago now, and all in all there were folks that you thought would do great things that didn't, people who you thought would amount to nothing doing really well, people who "hit their expectations", but most folks were just in the middle, getting by.

Overall, if you look the your current friend groups, you'll see this wide range of folks. Many of these were supposed to be big winners/losers in life, but we're all just a mixed bag and that's how most HS classes end up.

Don't sweat "living up to expectations" - because almost all of us feel like we aren't.
Nov. 13th, 2008 08:35 pm (UTC)
... do what everyone else does and lie a whole lot?

I dunno, man, I've been surrounded by people that are smarter than me since I was nine. Takes a lot of the pressure off.
Nov. 14th, 2008 02:33 am (UTC)
Is there anyone who will be going who you actually want to spend time with? Do you have to travel to Maryland to spend time with them? I guess I'm saying you shouldn't feel any pressure to go to the reunion - I didn't go to mine and I turned out just fine! ;)
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