Seventeen

Next year will mark 10 years that I have been out of high school. Recently, a few of my classmates had started contacting me, asking, “When are we getting together for our reunion?”

Hmm. I don’t know. I haven’t heard anything. Have you?

“No, I just figured you’d plan it.”

And I guess that’s how it happened. More than a couple said that to me on different occasions and I suppose it makes sense. The last time most of them were around me I was the studious girl who ended up student council president our senior year and did quite a bit of planning. It’s not what I’d consider to be my forte. I’ve never been able to decide if I am a detail or big picture person because I’m a little of both in different areas. Want a stellar invitation designed? You got it. Fliers for the event? Sure thing. Making phone calls, securing a venue, weighing pros and cons? Okay, you get the picture.

But sometimes, in the midst of all of this, you have to actually deal with other human beings. Interpersonal communication is not where I excel. I jumped in with both feet anyway.

Quick as a flash, I felt like I was 17 again. Not in a good way. (Was 17 for you anything like it was for me? I always felt like I could sympathize with Janis Ian about the age and its dramatic elements.) A lot of bad feelings came floating to the surface. Habits and behaviors that I haven’t exhibited in almost 10 years began to bare their teeth and I reeled back.

A friend was tweeting some things right when all of this was happening. She didn’t know what was going on with me (yet), but the things she was sharing were things that I needed to hear right that second.

In the past I have shared about how different I felt when I was in school. It took me forever to be comfortable with my identity. Somewhere toward the end of high school I just stopped caring. Not in time to truly enjoy that feeling while still surrounded by people who held different ideals from my own, but soon enough that I was able to really start discovering who I was at the beginning of my time spent at college. Having the new freedom to choose my own friends was exhilarating.

I found people that I could be real with, that did not judge me based on me liking things they weren’t interested in, believing differently from them, or holding my life to a different standard. For a girl from a very small town this was a very big deal.

These new plans, the prospect of seeing people that I hadn’t laid eyes on since I was 18-years-old, it brought up so many old feelings and memories — the pleasant and the painful ones. And that last thing that Victoria said hit home — these feelings, wishing someone could see just how far past all that I’d come, how I was stronger and more secure, more confident and less in need of affirmation from my peers…they were all things that drew me back to that agonizing place of trying to please other people. If the attitude is “if they could see me now” doesn’t it just hand over the power to someone who doesn’t deserve it?

These are more ruminations than anything else. The epiphany is small, but valuable. Is there a call to action? Maybe…maybe just what it has been all along. Accepting myself and my identity, not giving the power to someone else to determine my worth.

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5 Responses to Seventeen

  1. As I’ve said before, we are very much alike and I’ve walked this road before (3 times since I’m so much older than you). I jumped right in and was a planner for my 10th reunion and people were shocked because that just wasn’t like me, but I wasn’t that high school girl anymore. The 10th and 20th reunions were so MUCH fun, but by my 30th reunion I’d lost whatever self-esteem I’d amassed over the years. I was 150 lbs over-weight and in a really ugly place. I didn’t go – do I regret it? ABSOLUTELY! Why? I finally found out my true friends loved me for me – those people with whom I wasn’t close, reached out to me to tell me how much I was missed. So the moral to my ramblings – plan, go and enjoy! You will be so surprised how things and people have changed!!! Blessings -

  2. LeAnna says:

    Excellent post! I feel like women seem to drag a lot of these feelings into adulthood. (Especially motherhood.) Loved that last tweet, it is so true. The only person we need to determine our worth is Christ.

  3. Sarah says:

    LeAnna is right. It’s something women deal with for a long time. It’s always good to have these reminders to find our confidence and identity in Jesus! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Misti says:

    Ah, highschool. I went to my 10th, the first night in a relaxed setting I felt good, the second night in the more formal setting—not so much. Especially when everyone sat at tables, everyone fell right back into what they did in HS despite that I’d gotten to know others better since then. That part sucked.

    I’m the same yet different. I was a priss in highschool, now not so much.

    We’ll have to see where life is at the 20th on if I go.

    I’ve heard the ones after the first one get better.

  5. Kimby says:

    Elizabeth, epiphanies are worth their weight in gold, even small ones. (I liked your strengths and weaknesses assessment — part of being “who you are,” without apology.) Draw your lines, stick to your guns, and have FUN! Also, thank you for sharing those tweets… they meant a lot to me, especially since the last reunion I attended was my 30th (!)… and I do mean last. I’m not “the girl they remember” anymore, but no one could seem to get past that. Sometimes “real” scares the bejeebers out of folks.

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