Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Commencement



It's that time of year again.....the wind has turned warm, tacky prom dresses galore are being purchased, year books are being signed and everyone is graduating. Well, not everyone, but this time of year it certainly feels like it. I (as with most things) find myself looking back and reminiscing about that time in my life. High School wasn't particularly magical so I don't view it as the "best years of my life" or anything, but it was a fun time that holds certain wonderful memories for me.

Along with math, science and history, music and theatre were part of my daily routine so I always felt creatively fulfilled. It was understood that our little group would hang out at a coffee shop (because that's what the characters on Friends did) and talk about how we were going to change the world so I never felt lost. Honestly, most things came pretty easy to me, so while the future and adulthood seemed immense and scary I couldn't wait because I just knew I was destined for great things and life was going to be fabulous!

But then something happened......nothing. I had planned on continuing my rise to stardom by singing and dancing my way onto the stage, but when it became clear from college theatre classes that this would most likely include years of auditions and rejections, improving my horrible waitressing skills to pay the rent and the likely hood that I would never be successful, I realized that it wasn't what I wanted for my life. Time for plan B!

Well shit! I didn't have a plan B and there were no teachers, mentors or supportive adults around to point me in the right direction. People kept asking what I was up to and what my plan for life was and I had no answers. And then I made two very bad decisions that forever changed the course of my life. I should have asked for help. I should have said I screwed up what should I do, but I didn't. I should have realized I was going to have to work harder because as an adult things don't come as easy to you as they do when you're a child. I should have realized I was still a child, but I didn't.

Subsequently, my twenties were not a very happy time for me. While others have wild stories of youthful exploits, mine are mostly those of regret. In truth I was depressed for a very long time. My "youthful heroic master plan" had not come to fruition, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I rarely dated anyone and I had no idea how to climb out from under the blanket of sadness that this all created. When you are overwhelmed with that kind of daily sadness because there is literally no corner of your life you are happy with, finding a way out seems hopeless. I would tell myself that life would never be good and I should just get used to it. There were lucky people who had amazing lives and I just wasn't one of them.

I coped with this by doing things to make life even worse because I thought that's all I deserved. I didn't work as hard as I should have. I used food as that hug at the end of the day because there was no one there to hug me. I didn't seek out advice and help to find my career path. I would watch movies where people fell in love and read books about traveling and dream of a great life, but I was just existing, not living. I look back and there are only about a handful of pictures of me and my life from 18-26. A handful. How sad is that.

Of course I wasn't conscious of the fact that I was doing any of this to myself at the time and that I actually had all of the strength and power to change it. Eventually I did get lucky and fate threw me a couple chances involving my career that I took advantage of. I did well and little by little I got my sea legs back. I guess you could say I didn't wait for the lord to save me from the flood, I took advantage of the guy who offered to give me the ride in his truck, the boat that came by and the helicopter flying low (The Parable of the Flood in case you're not familiar). But it took almost ten years to get there. Then, as I've written about on the blog many times, the deaths of my grandmother and father within six months of each other really snapped me out of the stupor I had been in and I realized how much time I'd wasted. How many photographs I hadn't taken.

The happiness I have found in my thirties is so much the converse of my twenties that it literally makes me cry. I cry for her and I want to give her a hug and tell her it will be ok. You will find your way. But I guess I wouldn't have gotten here if I hadn't gone through the things I have and learned from them. It's easy to call things mistakes, but every right or wrong decision I've made has led me to the path I'm on now. I can't regret them. They are simply a chapter of what, in the end, will be the story of my life. Crap, that's a One Direction song.

We celebrated the High School graduation of a good friend's son this weekend and as I was writing his card I started thinking about all this. Advice is customary in these situations right? What do I say? What would I have listened to at his age? If this post is any indication not much:). I thought I knew everything. I know now I have so much still to learn and so many more mistakes to make (stay tuned:)), but it helps me to look back and write about it. I see now when I'm stressed or upset similar behaviors creeping up and it's easier to identify them, stop myself and say get your shit together Fitzgerald! 33% of the time it works every time. Crap, that's a line from Anchorman.

I often get accused, and rightfully so, of being a facebook over-poster. I pretty much post a picture of every delicious meal I eat, every fabulous cocktail I get to sample, every wonderful new spot I get to travel to and every outing with friends. And if you don't agree with it I couldn't care less. For me it's not about bragging or making people jealous of something fun I get to do. For me it's about celebration and happiness. I didn't have a lot of either for a very long time and I have a lot of catching up to do.

And P.S. if anyone has a time machine that can transport me back to June 4, 1997 so I can tell myself not to wear white pantyhose to my High School graduation I would greatly appreciate it:).

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