With back to school buzz in the air this time of year, I always find myself thinking back on all the years I used to have the jitters of the first day of school and starting a new grade. I think back to high school mostly because that was a big transition period for me. I changed groups of friends several times, began becoming independent, and finally started to come into my own. It’s also when I really started thinking about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
I caught up with some of my high school and college friends recently and it really struck me how we sure grow up fast. It’s neat seeing all the different directions we’ve taken and how much our lives have changed, almost all the time for the better. It shows that we can all do incredible things with our lives and careers if we put our minds to it and work hard.
For example, here are some of the cool and curious things I found out that my old classmates are up to.
- Bubbly, intelligent, girly-girl friend becomes a radio host and TV news anchor
- Nerdy math whiz who used to draw the most incredible comic book art (think X-Men) becomes a scientist
- Happy ballroom dance nut has beautiful twins and becomes a middle school teacher
- Super athlete and girl next door becomes a nurse practitioner
- Leukemia survivor becomes dad of 3 and works for the hospital that helped save his life
- Quiet girl who loved science becomes an assistant professor at a top 30 college
- Studious bookworm finds a career in Disease Management and becomes a mom of 2
- Super insecure girl decides to get implants and becomes a permanent traveler and nonstop partier
- Valedictorian becomes a marathon runner and takes up a D.C. career in politics
- Artsy free spirit is still soul searching and taking classes in ethnic studies and dance
- Stuffy drama club wannabe becomes an off Broadway actress and singer
- Shy chubby guy becomes EMT and healthy living advocate
- Business school major becomes a mom of 2 and starts her own business
Who would have thought we’d go in that many different directions?! I think it’s pretty incredible to see all the paths everyone took. We all started out in the same place with the same teachers and the same textbooks but ended up in very divergent places. And everyone is doing what makes them happy. And that’s the most anyone can ask for don’t you think? Several of my old classmates had to switch careers and take pay cuts or go back to school to end up where they are now, but to them it was worth it.
And while I used to think that everyone I went to school with already has 2-3 kids, I was surprised to find out there are still a fair number like me who don’t have any kids at all for various reasons.
Who You Were Before Doesn’t Restrict Who You Are Today Or Tomorrow
Growing up is hard to do, especially when you feel lost amongst all the endless possibilities and directions your life and career can take. But don’t lose hope. Learn to embrace the unknown, take risks, and get out of your comfort zone once in a while. You could end up surprising yourself with what you’re actually capable of. Victory tastes incredibly sweet, and you have to fight for it.
One exercise I like to do to keep me on my toes is to analyze my personal development. I start off by looking at who I used to be and at all the things that used to scare me which I’ve managed to overcome. For example, I used to be super shy and was always scared to speak up in class. Over the years I’ve gone from timid and reserved in a group setting, to being an outspoken people leader comfortable running large meetings. If you asked me 5-10 years if I could do that I would have flat out said “No way!” Same goes for running a website and being a part-time entrepreneur. I never would have thought I’d be capable of either of those things in the past.
The second step I like to take is to look at what I’m scared of and intimidated by today and figure out what to prioritize and start working on overcoming next. It’s hard to take big steps and try new things, but we’ll never know what we’re capable of if we don’t try. We don’t have to overcome every single fear we have either though, that’s why we have to assess what’s most important to us right now and figure out where we want to go. Some of the fears and hurdles I’m facing now are becoming a full time entrepreneur, thinking about becoming a parent, helping my mom into retirement, and finding new ways to invest and deepen my personal finance and business tax knowledge.
Think about some of the ways you’ve grown over the years. What can you do today that you never would have thought possible in the past? If you can’t think of anything at all, it’s time to challenge yourself to grow. Set some goals and put an action plan together. Progress is rewarding and brings purpose into your life.
How Do You Know If You Need To Change?
What if you’re feeling complacent and nothing really interests or scares you right now? How do you even know if you need to change? Well sometimes it’s a strong feeling you’ll get from within that’s clear as day. You’ll have an itch that you just have to scratch and experience. Other times you may think everything’s okay but someone else will tell you or hint that you need to change.
Pay attention when a loved one shares their thoughts and concerns with you. Sometimes we’re too blind to see our own stubborn ways and get so deep in a rut that it starts to feel normal when it’s really not. Are you smiling back at yourself when you look in the mirror or see yourself in pictures? If not, something needs to change. Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to be great! Sometimes we’re so afraid of actually succeeding that we don’t even try. It may sound weird but it’s true.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? …
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do. …
And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.
- Marianne Williamson
Untemplaters, have you attended a high school or college reunion and been surprised at all the different directions people took? How similar are you to the person you were in the past? What are some things you can do now that you never thought would be possible? What are you looking forward to overcoming and accomplishing in the future?
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