Last Saturday night I was the “plus one” at a high school reunion, where people were frankly in shock. It had been 30 years – 30 years! – since they’d all been together at Lakeland Regional High in Wanaque, New Jersey.
How will you account for three decades that start the moment you begin life, without adult supervision?
How will you explain the lapse of time between now and when you did or didn’t get into your first choice of college, maybe started spending student loan money like you’d never have to repay it or just up and started working or maybe drifting?
One thing for sure. Be careful of getting a job. You might look up 30 years later, waiting for retirement to kick in. Working at a big box store or whatever you land at 18 can be addictive. When you’re too young, the feeling of money in your pocket never gets old… until you do. Then in 30 years you wind up faced with the lives of adventurers and risk-takers, and you’re in the mirror with the same old, same old.
Imagine walking into a hotel ballroom with a deejay playing the soundtrack of your teenage years. Will you still be schlepping your high school sweetheart around the floor?
Imagine the tyranny is over. The dominance of jocks, the secrecy of nerds, the relentless buoyancy of cheer squad and the brotherhood of hipsters smoking in the parking lot – all behind you. (Actually, the hipsters will still go out into the parking lot to smoke.)
Here’s what I observed in place of these old roles. You become a person over 30 years. You drop the attitude, the chip on your shoulder, and the previously endless scrutiny of who’s hot and who’s not. Instead you remember so much, so fondly. Everyone talks to everyone. There are hugs and tears and the whole group dancing badly on the dance floor, in some strange geometric shape that simply means “we survived!”
Fear your high school reunion. Let that motivate you to live a life with stories to tell, adventures you’ve had and failure that taught you resilience and perseverance and came with a big dose of optimism.
You’ll probably be wrinkled, fat, bald or looking older than you ever thought possible. But, it’s all good if happened with the excitement of life experiences.
Now get to work on living – really living! You’ll need stories to tell.