It’s me again, walking by my old school locker. ‘That used to the locker I shared with Susan,’ I think each time, and then I rush to my destination and start teaching history lessons again.
My personal history there, by my rusty locker, is of no real interest to anyone – just some portion of my brain which holds memory, thought, emotion, and evocation of these things, and keeps reminding me of them, unwittingly.
I can’t help but think of my teenage self in those same desks I teach at, walking those same halls. And the memories which come back to me have helped me realize something about THEN me and NOW me.
I was SO WRONG back then. Right?
Did I think I’d be thirty years old and a student teacher back at my high school? Not in the slightest. My best friend and I genuinely believed there was a chance we’d marry our favorite members of Nsync. We huddled together in relative seclusion, wrapped in our fantasy world. Was that wrong?
Well, technically. I mean, neither of us is married to Justin Timberlake.
But I say we weren’t wrong at all.
Our predictions were often way off as adolescents. Or at least, mine sure were. I thought I was in love with a person who loved me back. But it was limerence, an alluring lie I told myself. I thought I’d be living by the beach in California at 25. But I was living in North Dakota helping take care of my mom when I reached that age. I thought I’d be married to a Mormon, have eight kids and still have time to be a best-selling author. So far, none of former are reality.
Everyone always tells me what an optimist I am. How rose-tinted my glasses are, how naive I can be, how unrealistic my expectations of people are.
And I’ll often agree, wearing the label with the knowledge that yes, I am like that. Not the naivety, per say, but I can agree with being a bit too unrealistic .
Anything is possible, right?
And I think that’s true. Anything IS possible. But does life often have other plans for you?
You know that old adage – ‘Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.’
It is true. And a realization of life as something other than what I had in mind, due to circumstance, choice, choices of others, chance, God…..this is part of what happens when you reach adulthood. At least, this is how I’ve found life to be.
I think accepting the curve-balls, embracing the choices we maintain within some imposed limitations, and learning to love ourselves and others for for who we all ACTUALLY are is an important step to happiness and adulthood.
When I was a teenager – at the high school I still teach in every day – my friends and I would lament about how booooring Colorado Springs was. How conservative and closed-minded and ultimately booooring it was here. Was there ANYTHING to do? And oh, the slim pickings of date-able boys we moaned about ceaselessly. I couldn’t wait to move. California, Scotland, anywhere!
So we went to Scotland and thought it was, without a doubt, utopia. The guys were hot and like, so into us, yeah? Those accents! The stream of phone numbers and offers to date…wow, where had Scotland been all our lives?? Colorado Springs had NONE of this.
Fast forward a few years and my best friend and I were sitting around talking about how poor we were in Scotland, and how we missed the mountains. Oh, and Thanksgiving. We really needed pumpkin pie.
When I did move back to Colorado Springs, Scottish husband in tow, I was excited…for a few months.
Then it was the same old story, this time with a husband instead of my friend: it’s boring, it’s conservative, it’s just, like, totally lame. Time to move to Boulder. So we did.
And now we’re back.
And I’m seeing Colorado Springs through a lens which never would have been possible back then. I’m seeing it as a mom, as a working adult…as someone who now cares about good preschools and grocery stores.
I’m also seeing Colorado Springs with new eyes…the kind of eyes I refused to use when I lived here as a teenager and young adult. I’m seeing it as a place to settle down, a place to grow, and a place to raise my son.
And it’s like a totally different place.
Speaking to friends and relatives and therapists and folks beside me on plane rides, etc., I’ve come to the conclusion that while my experiences are my own, the sentiment is universal.
Life never turns out the way you planned it to.
What prompted me to write this blog post tonight? I was flicking through the radio stations and landed on ‘The Dance’ by Garth Brooks. I’m not even a country fan but I was listening and it evoked the thought of how even if we don’t know how things are going to turn out, the journey usually makes it all worth it.
Don’t live a life of regret, but don’t live a life of undue expectation on yourself or others, either.
I remember the teenage me, every day at work now. How she spoke, how she dressed, how she talked. I can feel she is still a part of me. And I can see how despite how ‘wrong’ she was about the future, she was right, for that time and place.
Everyone is a work in progress. As John Mayer says…..’I’m in repair….I’m not together but I’m getting there.’