I just received a reminder that my 45th high school reunion is coming up soon. My first response is I simply cannot believe that I graduated from high school 45 years ago. How did that happen? So I turned to my yearbooks to try and remember something about high school.
I went to high school in Colorado Springs from 1970 to 1973. I was not active in clubs or any other extra curricular activities. The way I remember it, I was horribly shy and quite miserable most of the time. I had very low self-esteem so I kept my head down, hoping nobody would notice me. As it turns out, most don’t remember me at all.
I hated everything about high school. I hated my home life and how I felt at school. The best way to describe me looking back from my 45-years-later perspective is flat affect. I just kept wondering if my life would ever get better. I remember at high school graduation singing that German song from Cabaret: “Tomorrow belongs to me…” over and over in my head.
These days I am so glad I hung in there! Everything got better in college. I went to Colorado College, the one where my father taught. As soon as I got there I felt like I fit in much better. For the first time I was constantly around fellow eggheads, and finally completely academically challenged. Slowly through the past four decades I have become more at home in my own body and freer to become my true self.
The hardest battle you will face in life is to be no one but yourself, in a world which is trying its hardest to make you like everybody else!
Now I see this maturation process as peeling the onion of my soul. At first I only felt safe taking off the most outer layers, exposing my true self very slowly and carefully, so afraid of what others might think or say. When I finally got some counseling in my early thirties, my therapist noted how often I said, “People think this…” And she would challenge me with, “Who are these people?” It was not easy, but I have finally found my true self in the midst of too much feedback from others, and a generous number of rules in my own mind.
I have never attended a high school reunion, but I am seriously considering it this time. We live only a couple hours southwest of Colorado Springs now, and I am quite curious. Perhaps I should go find out who I went to high school with, because I suspect none of us are anything like we were in high school.
How did we all turn out? For a REALLY FUNNY take on high school reunions, go here!
Laura Lee Carter is a professional photographer, writer and psychotherapist. Her midlife crisis included a divorce and the loss of her career as an academic librarian, misfortunes she now finds supremely fortuitous, as everything wonderful flowed from these midlife challenges. Laura now sees midlife difficulties as once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for personal liberation. Laura Lee has produced five books on midlife change. Don’t miss: A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado.