You know, I'm not really sure how exactly it happened. But, it happened again.
I have a friend that has been talking me into things for more than 20 years and she's done it again.
About 24 years ago I moved into a quaint little burb and got ready to start high school. I had the regular jitters of being the new kid but just figured it wouldn't be that big a deal because the place was so small compared to the middle school I'd come from. The entire population of the high school was the same as just my class in my old middle school. How hard could it be to connect in the new place where there were so many less people to contend with?
Well, it turned out to be just the opposite. It was a small burb. Everyone knew everyone. They always had. Many of them had lived there all their lives. They had all been playmates and pals since diapers. They had their clicks and their identities.
I was an outsider to all that.
I still had hope that I'd be a novelty, you know, a new face in the sea of familiar and therefore be able to connect, fit in, make friends...just blend in. The desire of every high school kid, just be a part of things.
It was harder than I planned.
My first week of school, not a single student in the building spoke to me.
Talk about a long week. And boy can I tell you I was loving our families luck to follow the job to this location. Not.
Then along came this girl.
She decided that she was my friend. She decided that she was going to help me connect. She was going to get me involved.
Somehow I followed right along and ended up a cheerleader!
There were other things too, but that was by far the most memorable.
At the time of the 10 year reunion, I was not planning to go, but somehow, you guessed it, she talked me into it. There I was, looking around at people I hadn't seen in 10 years and not being really sure I wanted to be there.
Now, fast forward to the 20 year. Again, so not planning on going and yet, here I am this morning finding myself going to another reunion.
The thing is, this time, it's all different.
See in 20 years, I've finally managed to grow up a bit and realize a lot of things about myself. Mostly, I'm OK just like I am and even better if I remember not to play the comparison games that we all play.
For the first time, I'm really seeing my fellow classmates in a new light. Different than even when I was a student with them.
Way back when, all I could see was the clicks and their images. I saw all the distinct groups and all the places I didn't fit. For those 4 years, and many of those afterward, all I saw was the outside shell, like the candy coating on an M&M. I couldn't see the people inside of the outfits and the friend circles.
Now, 20 years later, I see a whole group of people that I never put much effort into getting to know. I was too afraid of who I thought they were. Thanks to things like Face Book, I am seeing a bunch of people who look a whole lot like me. Plain old regular people with regular lives.
So in a few months I'll go with her, again, to something I hadn't planned on doing, but this time I'm taking a new attitude with me. I'm going to see things and people for what they are. I'm going to realize that I'm not being constantly judged or dismissed. I'm not going to be too shy or too scared to say hello to anyone. I'm going to remember that I'm not 15 anymore and neither is anyone else. We've all done a lot of living and growing up in 20 years.