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Condition of the Month- February

February 5, 2013

What is an ideal or aspiration that you held in high school but have since let go of?

It has almost been six years since the naughty princesses all graduated high school.  Our ten-year reunions are still a ways off but close enough to make us uncomfortable.  Do we really want to face the people we knew in high school– or, should I say, the people who knew us in high school.  In the past six years we have all changed from who we were when we walked the hallways of our high schools.  The real purpose of this condition of the month was to give each of the princess a moment to reflect about how the past six years have changed us: what has been lost and what has been made new.

snowwhore tileWhen I look back to the person I was when I graduated high school, I sometimes don’t even recognize her. This is not to say that I’ve undergone some radical personality transformation in the past six years, but more that what I thought about the world and what I wanted to accomplish in it were vastly different from what I think and want to accomplish now.
When I left high school behind I was devastated to be leaving my comfortable small town home, and terrified of life in the big city. It all seemed too big. The only reason I risked it was because I knew there was nothing more for me to learn from my hometown.  I had dreams of going to college to major in creative writing, find my muse, and become a best-selling poet (because that is such an easy field to break into). However, the life I thought I was getting into when I went to college ended up being so very different than I had pictured. But not in a bad way. I was shocked to realize that I did not hate living in a big city, and going to a big state college. It was easier than I had thought to make friends, and I quickly learned to love exploring the campus and the city with my fellow naughty princesses (most of whom I met my first quarter).  I was also shocked to realize after a couple quarters of classes that I could see no future for myself in creative writing.  As my world changed and expanded, so did my dreams. I didn’t want to be alone, writing at a desk. I wanted to be out in foreign countries, meeting people, learning their stories, and building relationships. Suddenly I found myself taking all the Spanish classes I could, becoming an international studies major, and dreaming of being a real voice of change for parts of the world that didn’t often get a voice.
Sometimes I think about my old dream to be a writer, but the fact that I’ve let go of it doesn’t make me sad.  Our dreams must evolve as we do, and I can’t wait to see how mine continue to grow and change as time goes on.

—  Snow Whore

sleeping booty tileWhat if I haven’t changed at all since high school? Since moving back home, my physical location sure hasn’t changed (though I suppose my magazine collages of inspirational quotes and The O.C. have been stripped from the walls), all my clothes still fit (even the jeans), and my in-person friends are now the same ones I knew back then. My parents still cook and I do dishes, I fight with my brother for not spending enough time with me, and I even leave the house around the same time I used to in the morning (though going to work with a bunch of old men isn’t quite the same as sitting in class with angsty teenagers). Not much has changed really, I’m just older and notably less convinced about the promise of an outstanding future. I haven’t let go of my aspirations, but now that the promise of life-affirming college has passed me by I don’t know what comes next. Sure I could look forward to finding the perfect job, falling in love or having children, and I’m human–of course I want those things, but I can’t send in an application for love to happen on this date and in this way (though I can apply for a child…). So who knows if my life will go well from here on out? College was an automatic win, something that couldn’t go wrong even if I tried, but now that it’s over what do I have left to really expect? Anything can happen-which is a good thing mostly-but I can no longer say that I have a moment in time to look forward to. I’ll look forward to ideas, things I hope I’ll get to do, but I’ve had to let go of my timeline, because from here on out nothing is certain.

 — Sleeping Booty
cinderslut tile (2)I think that I have only gained new and improved aspirations over the years, so the ones that were important to me in high school now seem quite lame in comparison. I’m trying to think…what were my dreams when I was 16?

  1. Get kissed by a boy. Well, it happened. But let’s just say getting your first kiss from the geekiest guy in school wasn’t exactly the lightning bolt, music video moment I had fantasized about. Although it was pretty damn cute and romantic in its own way.
  2. Never get a B, ever. Yep, I was one of those overachievers who was bent on getting a 4.0 ever since I could count to 4. You can see why the only dude willing to kiss me was my aforementioned arch-nemesis and eventual co-valedictorian. I accomplished my goal, even if I did have to cajole my 9th grade Calligraphy teacher into giving me a “Pass” instead of an A-. Because seriously, calligraphy?
  3. Hit a home run. In softball of course.
  4. Live in Seattle, major in English, become a teacher, a wife, someday a mom. Check, check, check, check, and check. Just kidding! The last one is a “someday.” You get the picture.

I’ve had my life planned out for a while, and to be honest, a lot of these dreams have come true. But now there are other things on my to-do list that I never could have dreamed of when I was 16. Go on a hot-air balloon ride over Cappadocia. Swim in the Dead Sea. Teach 90 of the world’s future leaders that freedom, peace, and their dreams are worth fighting for. I think when I was in high school I had good dreams, but was also a bit too hung up on ideals like looking pretty, being popular, and having boys like me. I didn’t have any of those things at the time, so they were very appealing. Luckily, though, as I’ve changed over the years my dreams have too, or at least they have grown. So what do you do when all your dreams come true? Start over and make new ones.

— Cinderslut

little merskank tileSo, I confess, I wrote this month’s question, although with no particular answer in mind.  I really just wanted to give us all a space to think about how ideas and ideals and how they have evolved in us over the past six years or so.  For the past couple of weeks, I have been mulling over this question on and off.  It has been an interesting experience to try to revisit my high-school self, to remember her thoughts and dreams.  And really, as Sleepy Booty also wrote, in a lot of ways I am quite similar to my high school self.  I don’t really feel like I had a moment where I ‘rediscovered’ or ‘reinvented’ myself; I am, has always been, and in all likelihood will continue to be me.  Rather than being dramatic, the changes in myself have been subtle, slowly growing on each other through time—new birth out of something that was already there, but needed to be developed.  I did, however, out of this period of reflection, come up with two fairly major ‘developments’ in my ideals and perceptions since my high school days.

1)  I have become less dark.  Now this sounds a little strange, I will admit, but in my own way I was a goth in high school.  Now back up, I definitely didn’t wear chains and black clothes or smoke or any of the other stereotypes associated with that word.  I was definitely too nerdy and not cool enough for any of that.  But what I was, however, was dark.  I loved sad endings, depressing poems, remorse—anything with a streak of bitterness through it.   In my tenth grade English class we did a unit on creative writing.  I recently read through the two pieces I have saved in my email from that unit:  one dealt with a man named Winston whose cowardly decision during warfare resulted in his friends’ deaths and who later in life is constantly haunted by talking images of their severed heads, the other dealt with another man, Charlie, who had to bear the guilt the for accidently destroying an entire planet.  You see—I sort of had issues.  And to be honest, I still do love tragedy: I would pick Wurthering Heights over anything by Jane Austen any day of the week.  But, I think, I also have learned to love the light.  I still think tragedy can be beautiful, but I tend now to see the goodness and hope that is offered by it.    I no longer dismiss something happy as silly or less striking.  Goodness and light are equally striking as darkness and pain—one simply highlights the other.

2)  This second change is slightly harder for me to describe, the best I can do right now is to say, I’ve become less dramatic.  I guess what I mean by this is that I feel like my feet are on firmer ground than they were in high school.  When I was in high school, I felt totally at the mercy of events around me.  If something in my life went wrong, I was in turmoil.  I remember, for instance, when I decided to attend a state school versus the private college I had wanted to attend but couldn’t afford: if I could count how many nights I cried my heart out over this it would be some grand number, probably more than a hundred.  Now, however, decisions like that—or even terrible challenges in life—have less power to rock me.  This is definitely the result of slow change in my life and growth in my faith.  In a way, probably coming through the disappointments and challenges helped me gain a sense of perspective.  Of course I still get grieved and upset in life, but I feel like my feet are on the Rock.  Standing there, I am no longer at the mercy of the waves.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 5, 2013 11:21 am

    I love us.

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