Posts Tagged ‘reunion’

From the viewpoint of an objective observer, I noticed some interesting things while reading my five-year diary (see “The Reunion, part 2″).

The first entry appeared on January 1, 1968, and continued until I graduated from high school in May 1972. I stopped on that day because I saw my diary as something from “my youth” that I no longer needed.

As I read entry after entry, I thought, “What kind of person writes every single day and fills every single line, beginning at age of 13? Disciplined? Focused? Organized? Intentional?” (Sounds a lot like me!)

By the time I accepted my high school diploma, I had already completed a semester of college and had worked for five months as a secretary at the Lincoln Fire Department. I was 17 years old.

There is simply no evidence for the labels I placed on myself: Unsure, Awkward, and Afraid. The person who wrote in that book was full of determination and vision. She boldly asked to graduate mid-term from high school, and then took a senior level college class, assuring her adviser that she didn’t need the prerequisites. She was right. She earned straight A’s that first semester in college.

Yes, she was a misfit in high school. She couldn’t wait to get on with her life. She didn’t like sporting events, pep rallies, dances or parties. All of that seemed so frivolous and unnecessary, a waste of time. She would rather debate philosophical topics with her teachers than hang out with kids her own age.

The more I read the diary, the more I liked the girl who wrote it. I found her delightfully energetic and hopeful. I smiled at her idealistic dreams and envied her self-assurance. Everything was so black-and-white for her. Little did she know the territory in between, the place I now so contentedly live my life.

As I placed the book aside, I realized how I had blamed my teenage self for all of my perceived shortcomings. She’s the reason I felt uncomfortable in crowds, had no fashion sense, and couldn’t dance.

Eureka! There are the red flags I was looking for! Blame and resentment! I love it when I see them clearly because I know what I need to do. I need to take responsibility. Period.

As a responsible, self-generating person, I acknowledge right here and now that if I wanted to learn to dance, I could. If I really cared about fashion, I have plenty of trendy friends who could teach me a thing or two. And as for crowds? I don’t mind one bit being the featured speaker at a conference, but when it comes to conversations, I’ll take a meaningful philosophical debate any day.

Thank you, Barbara Jane, you were the perfect teenager to lead me to who I am today. I honor your hard work, quirky ways, and serious outlook. Tomorrow night I’m headed to my 40th high school reunion with the memory of you tucked safely in my heart. You rock!

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Why had I decided to go to my 40th high school reunion? To fulfill a homework assignment?

In the wee hours of the morning, I found myself second guessing my decision and looking for ways out. But during the daylight hours, I sensed my inner wisdom was right. And based on what I have regularly told my coaching clients, I was confident there would be a gift waiting for me if I only pushed through my self-doubt and fear.

I had been listening to Byron Katie lately and decided this would be an excellent application for, “The Work.” How I love Katie’s four powerful questions! So, here’s what happened. I focused intently on who I was in high school. Awkward. Misfit. Unsure. Afraid. Uncomfortable. Vulnerable. And then I asked myself the questions.

Question #1: Is it true? Answer: Well, sure. I was there. I should know! I remember very clearly being all those things.

Question #2: Can you know with certainty that it is true? Answer: With certainty? Hmmmm. I felt awkward. I clearly remember that part. But was I really awkward? Would a reasonable, objective observer find me awkward? When you put it that way, maybe . . . just maybe . . . it might not be completely true after all. With that admission, I felt my thinking begin to shift. I was ready for the next question.

Question #3: How do you feel when you think those thoughts? Answer: Well, that’s easy. I feel like crap! Next question!

Question #4: Who would you be without those thoughts? Answer: Oh, my! It’s hard to say. I’ve had those thoughts for 40+ years. Who would I be without all that judgment, condemnation, and self-pity? I suppose without thoughts of “awkward misfit,” I might be free to just be myself, my own unique brand of me. No shame. No apologies. Who else could I be, anyway?

I allowed the shift to percolate, and within a few days, I found myself wanting to know more about what a reasonable, objective observer might notice about who I had been at 17. That’s when an idea struck with such power, I couldn’t do anything else until I acted on it. I needed to read my diary. But not just read it. I would become that reasonable, objective observer. I would pretend I was reading a book written by someone else. I would approach the book with curiosity, setting aside everything I thought I knew about this young woman. And I would let her talk to me.

Okay, Barbara Schmitt . . . tell me about your life. I sat down with my diary and did not get up again until I had read every single entry from the first day of my senior year in high school until the day I graduated. (To be continued . . . .)

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The Reunion

It started with an Outlook Reminder. I must have created it years ago in a fit of nostalgia: “40th High School Reunion This Year! . . . Do you want to go?”

At first I did.

But then I didn’t.

Weeks later I e-mailed my sophomore year locker mate, who teaches English at our old high school. She had been involved in organizing previous reunions.

Will there be a reunion this year?

Yes! You must come!

Oh, good! I want to go.

But then I didn’t want to go.

Later I got curious. Who do you suppose would be there? I pulled out my old yearbooks, looked at the pictures, read some articles.

Yes, I want to go!

Then I started reading all the things that people wrote in my yearbooks, and I changed my mind. I didn’t want to go.

Later I remembered how much fun it had been to connect on FaceBook with a few people from high school.

Yea, I think I want to go.

What was this ambivalence?

Plain and simple, I just didn’t like remembering who I was or what I was like in high school. Awkward. Misfit. Unsure. Afraid. Uncomfortable. Vulnerable. Yuck! I didn’t want to be reminded! I didn’t want to admit to ever being THAT!

And then I got “the Nudge”—that quiet voice of my inner wisdom: “Go to the Reunion! Go and Grow!”
What is it about my inner wisdom and alliteration? It’s always saying things like “Go and Grow!” all perky and excited and happy, like it was a trip to the beach.

As Divine Perfection often manifests (i.e., “as fate would have it”), that very week I was taking a class that focused on Divine Guidance. Homework involved listening for and then following our inner wisdom. Well, if it would meet the homework requirement for the week, why not? So I took a DEEP breath, booked a flight, a room, and a rental car. That was easy.

But it didn’t take long for my insecurities to begin waking me up in the middle of the night. That’s when the fun part started . . . . (To be continued)

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