Ten years ago today, I graduated high school.
Ten years since I donned a slinky black dress under a red graduation robe. Ten years since I paraded down a football field in a cap and gown to achieve the milestone that is high school graduation.
I was excited and terrified. I was not ready to leave the comforts of a life I had always known but had grown uncomfortable there. I was ready to spread my wings but was too scared to jump out of the nest.
The world was too big for me to navigate but the town where I grew up had grown too small.
It’s been ten years since I was the girl with so much potential and so many dreams.
It’s been ten years since I was sure about who I was.
My 18-year-old self was smart, pretty, and talented. (And tiny. I only weighed 100 pounds when I graduated high school.) This girl was going to go to Broadway. With an all-A GPA after a course load of honors and AP classes, a music scholarship and a two page long list of various honors and accomplishments under her belt, this girl was going to be somebody. This girl was going to be the perfect mom to four children. She would always look pretty and have a clean house. Beside small teenage dramas, this girl’s childhood had been pretty idealistic and she expected nothing less as she leapt out into the world.
A lot happens in ten years.
This woman may still be smart, but no one really recognizes that now. This woman may still be pretty, but not in the head turning way she was at 18. The weight she’s gained over the past ten years and the way having a baby changed her body will never allow her reflection to be the same in the mirror.
This woman stopped trying to pursue her singing talent after life starting throwing her curve balls that she couldn’t get away from. This woman never went to Broadway. This woman experienced the loss of her father and depression. This woman excelled in college but became a teacher instead of a performer. This woman became a mother through a very difficult pregnancy and delivery, and struggled through another bout of foggy depression. This woman sometimes flounders just to hold it all together with one baby, and the thought of having another one terrifies her. This woman’s dreams of being extraordinary washed away over the past decade and this woman struggles with the fact that despite all of her potential of ten years ago, she really grew up to be quite ordinary.
The ten year highschool reunion will be held in August. I had a wonderful high school experience, but as I reflect on these past ten years, I can not convince myself to go. So much has changed since then. As I look back into my highschool past I realize how much of who I was is not who I am. Sometimes I grieve that. I am reluctant to go to the reunion because I feel that somehow I have failed; failed at becoming who I could have been.
In October, it will also be ten years since my dad died. Ten years in which my world shifted and my experiences grew and my understanding of life changed, because my life irreparably changed. I never figured out how to build a sand castle when part of my foundation washed away with the waves.
I once read a quote that said, “When something tragic happens in your youth, you tend to feel that age for the rest of your life.” I have often felt this way. I feel like I spent the past decade kind of lost. I have made grown up decisions without feeling grown up. Time and life have moved forward without my permission and sometimes I feel like I am digging my feet in the sand and resisting with all my might, but no matter how hard I try, I am pulled into the future anyway.
I will turn 29 this fall and officially be in the last year of my twenties. And I’m oh so glad. I’m so ready not to be in this lost place anymore. I am so ready not to feel like I am still 18 holding on to dreams that will never come true. I am so ready not to spend the next ten years of my life in a blanket of fog, stuck in the middle of who I was and who I am. I am so ready to embrace myself as a woman.
Sometimes I miss the 18-year-old girl. Almost all of the time, I miss her dreams of grandeur. But as much as I may want to, I will never be that girl again. I think it’s time to let her go. I think it’s time to stop holding on to her standards of beauty and dreams and perfection. I will never be a size zero again, or be famous, or look at the world through the innocence tinted glasses I wore at 18.
If you google my full maiden name, you get a lot of links. She was important. But she’s not here anymore.
If you google my name now, you will not find me. I am lost among laundry and dishes and toddler tantrums. I am buried under bouts of depression. As it turns out, I never turned into anything special.
It took me 18 years to become the person that had so much going for her before. It will take time to create myself again.
It’s not too late to start, is it?