Archive for August, 2008

A Decade in Review…

I reached a milestone this week–a day that I never actually imagined would come, and yet it is here and gone already. I had my ten year high school reunion (gasp! gag!). I know what you are thinking…aren’t you too young to have been out of high school so long? YES! That’s what I thought too!! But it turns out that ten years is, in fact, a decade, no matter how much you try and rework the numbers. I figure this is as good a topic as I will ever get to blog about so I might as well take advantage of it.

Rightly so, I have been spending a great deal of time lately in reflection. What have i learned? Where am I going? What the heck have I been doing for ten years? I think it’s actually really great to have these moments in life…these milestones that keep us in check and encourage us to go forward. My reunion was actually (to my surprise) quite poorly attended. I figured Facebook would have come through for us, but I suppose even Facebook isn’t strong enough to overcome the utter dread that some people would have felt in attending such an event. Fortunately (or stupidly) I am not one of those people. Sure, I approached it with some anxiety, that is to be expected, but I found I was really looking forward to seeing old friends, acquaintances, and strangers. Those who know me have probably figured out by now that I love social events. I figure I don’t have many marketable skills, but one is that I love to socialize so I might as do it to the best of my ability. In fact, in my graduating year i was even voted “Friendliest Girl.” …and no not in the way YOU’RE thinking. I think many people are insecure in their life status, which, I would like to say right now is completely silly. One thing I realized this weekend is that we are all at totally different places in life and no one is better or worse than another. Some people are married with three kids, while others have just started post-secondary school. Some have been in school since they left, while others settled into a career straight away. Some have travelled, others still live in Summerside. Some are married to their careers, while others still have no idea what they want to do. I cannot stress enough that there is NO MEASURING STICK! Who makes up these ideals anyway? My philosophy is “screw them!” (…and no, not in the way YOU’RE thinking…).

O.k…that is my rant to those who did not come to the reunion because they felt inadequate. For those who did not come because they are bitter, I say, “get over it. Life is too short.” To those who could not come but wanted to, I am sorry we missed one another. The truth is that I had a great time! I did not know what to expect but what I found were adults (when did THAT happen?) who were genuinely happy to see an old friend. Nothing beats that. We watched our grad video (YIKES) which was probably the most painful portion of the weekend. We read the prophesy that predicted where we would all be in ten years, which was humorous. I fell short of mine which predicted a nobel peace prize for international development in Africa. Give me another ten years…

So, that being said, upon reflection, here are the things I have learned in ten years of adulthood…

1. Everyone is better looking at 28 than at 18. WITHOUT EXCEPTION. It’s actually quite bizarre. I doubt I will say the same in another ten years, but hey, it makes me happy to be 28 right now which is a reason to celebrate and not give in to feeling old.

2. Bitterness is a poison you drink and expect the other person to die. A good friend who has had more than her share of suffering told me this and it has stuck with me. Hanging onto grudges is something that only hurts yourself. It might be the cruelest jokes of God…or life’s hardest lesson–that we have to love other people when they hurt us, but I firmly believe this is the secret to joy. My new motto is “I will do whatever it takes to let go of bitterness.” It’s hard, trust me, but the truth is I don’t want to look back on my life and realize I spent a huge percentage of it being miserable.

3. I am the luckiest girl alive. Every so often, I am completely dumbfounded by this simple fact. It’s true. I have amazing friends, and a family that loves and supports me. Am I rich? HELL NO. Not even close. But i love my job. I love my poverty-stricken town. I love my two bedroom apartment in a run down building. Last month I got to see John Mayer live in Boston. He has been my #1 favorite artist for about 6 years (judge me, it’s o.k.) and I finally decided that it was time to make one of my small dreams come true. How many people in the world get to see their icons? The fact that I am able to make that possible is astounding to me. I have been to 3rd world countries and I do not take the fulfillment of my dreams lightly because i know that so many people do not get to experience a fraction of the things I do. Going to the dentist is another thing that causes me to realize I am the luckiest girl alive. What percentage of the world’s population can afford to pay someone to clean their mouths? I suspect less than 1%.

4. Get Over It. Things don’t always work out the way you want…hope…expect, but there is no use dwelling on that which you have no control over. This goes back to the bitterness thing. I am learning that it’s important to find the support you need (however you need to do it) and to role with it. No one said that we would get everything we ever wanted. No one said that life OWED us anything. It does not. But hope for the best and deal with the worst when it comes. My colleague has cancer and she’s had to lose her breasts and her hair, but she teaches me all the time to tackle life’s blows with flexibility and joy.

5. The purpose of life is…to live. I think it’s that simple. My personal goal is to be good at living. When I die I want people to say “she lived and loved well.” I know i have A LOT to learn and I fall very short but I am working on it. I think joy and hope are also big factors in this one. My 2nd motto is “Do whatever you have to do to hang on to hope and joy.”

6. Friends are the family you get to choose. The point here is that we get to choose them. Your family, you are stuck with so make the best of it, but friends…you get to decide so choose wisely! My friends are like a big cusion that catches me every time life throws me off a building (life is mean). I am so grateful because i know without a shadow of a doubt that I would not be the person I am now without them. They have brought SO MUCH healing into my life…so much wisdom…so much support. I have seen other people whose friends are backstabbing and gossipy and suck the life out of them. This is not friendship but some twisted co-dependent relationship that they should run like hell away from. Once again…life is WAY TOO SHORT for this. I think this is the one lesson we should have learned in high school. I have somehow lucked out and found people that I can be real with which has been more important than even I will ever realize. In return I want to be a good friend.

7. It feels good to break the rules. I grew up Catholic and then was pretty Evangelical for awhile so I know a lot about guilt. Now I believe that God is a God of freedom and it’s a privilege to exercise that. There is freedom to try and fail; freedom to choose what we WANT. Shockingly, it turns out that I cannot fit myself so easily into a box. It is only by stepping outside the lines that I began to discover myself and God and you know what? I love it. It turns out that God hangs out past the lines we created to keep him in. He’s way more flexible than us. I spent far too much time afraid of doing the wrong thing. Now I figure I spend way more time doing the wrong thing but also way more time experiencing the goodness that God gave us in this life. Some people need to learn how to break those preconceived ideas of what their lives were going to look like in order to be happy.

8. Marriage is worth waiting for. I already know several people who have been married and divorced in a decade. Sure, I want to get married, but i haven’t met someone worth marrying yet…and to be honest, I was not worth marrying for a long time (it took me a long time to figure out what I wanted). There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. There is also nothing wrong with those who found the right person at age 20. I thought i would be self-conscious about this at the reunion. So many people starting families, and there is me who is on my own. But i wasn’t. I have no reason to be ashamed of that and neither does anyone else. Sure, some family members are starting to ask if I’ve ever thought of becoming a nun (I’m really not good with rules), and I wonder how it’s possible that i have 500 Facebook friends of which none are more than just friends (i need to meet MORE people?), but i’ll figure it out eventually. I am not worried. That’s a generational thing, i know. We are unconventional these days, but we can’t help it. We don’t know how else to be.

So those are my top “8”…i realize 10 would be a better number but I can’t think of 2 more things so this will have to suffice. I know it’s a bit sentimental and mid-life crisis-ish…but that’s just who I am. I don’t want to wait another 20 years to figure this stuff out. For now I will concentrate on the fact that my big sister just got engaged!! I am beyond excited for her and her fiance, Brian and they deserve a beautiful wedding (next September). I think it is time our family of four expanded and I couldn’t think of a better guy to invite in.

…and I will try not to wait until my next high school reunion to blog again!

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