Remember them? Remember the agony of choosing the appropriate quote to go under your senior photo in that high school yearbook? I recall hours of searching movie lines, lyrics and quotes to find one that I thought worked best. And then there was that question that would accompany your photo…’where do you see yourself in ten years’? Seriously? How on earth could I know that answer at seventeen years old and would there be any possibility it would be true in a decade? I certainly couldn’t foresee a teaching career and full on career change, a love of travel, life on two coasts, freelancing or a spouse from the other side of the world.
My 20th college reunion was last month. We were in the midst of traveling, so unfortunately, I couldn’t make it, but I did follow along with the photo uploads on social media. My friend Jessica and I chaired our five year reunion together and she handled this one on her own. People came from miles around to relive the magic of university over one short weekend. It reminded me of when we put together our college yearbook (she was the Editor-in-Chief) and how much work went into that entire publication. Hours of photo collections and edits, story production and edits, quote creation and edits and so much more.
It’s been twenty years since college graduation (and even more since high school) – how many of us really wound up as our answered question predicted? How many of us thought to write how we wanted to be healthy, happy, positive, adventure-filled, comfortable, loved or other adjectives and instead wrote about the occupation we thought we SHOULD have or the place we thought we SHOULD live? What would we tell our yearbook creating younger selves knowing what we know now? How many of us would truly have the same answers or even the same quotes or lyrics for that matter?
The other day I was chatting to a friend in my building who mentioned she had friends visiting two or three weekends in a row. My response, ‘you’re popular’…hers…”if only high school could see me now”. How many of us have blurted out the same retort? Of course, there are many who are still in touch with people from their youth who have watched the transformation, growth, stumbles, triumphs and all things in between. Then there are those with whom we reconnect through social media or shared friends and it’s been over twenty, thirty or more years since we last saw or spoke. What do they remember about you? How much of that holds true today?
For me, I’m not certain. But I do know that if I could revisit my younger self, I’d try to tell her to focus on the adjectives, rather than the nouns. I’d suggest looking for quotes about journey not destination, lyrics of positivity and strength and choices filled with big dreams. Perhaps instead of those specific questions leaving seventeen year olds to stress over or create off the cuff answers, we could today promote ideas of what are you looking forward to in life, or for what are you striving…more open-ended and filled with possibilities than the ‘which profession do you see yourself in’ type.
I don’t know that any of us will ever truly know what those high school or university friends remember about us. It’s my hope that for me it’s things like filled with energy, kindness, friendship and positive attitude that pop up in conversation, but who knows? Either way, if we all head in the direction of being a better person than we were yesterday and striving to make the world or planet better than it was yesterday, we can’t possibly go wrong. Maybe that doesn’t match up to those yearbook quotes and answers of our youth, but, then again, perhaps high school falls into the Vegas category and what happens there stays there. Still, I do wonder, if those yearbooks could talk…what do you think they’d say?