Way back when; before cell phones, personal computers, energy drinks, Starbucks, DVDs, microwaves, Global Positioning Systems, and blogs, I would stand miserably beside mountainous, and often gray encrusted snow banks as I waited for my school bus to take me to high school. I refused to wear boots because they were oh-so-ugly and I just could not be bothered with a hat. How could my carefully feathered tresses be expected to stand up to being squashed by a hat? I was not practical about growing up in Rochester, New York. Rochester is located somewhere near the birthplace of Buffalo wings and not too far from the fabulous Horseshoe Falls of Niagara Falls.
Today I live in Florida and I am currently sitting on a plane heading for my 30th high school reunion. The fact that I have graduated from high school thirty years ago is beyond my comprehension. I have only been back to Rochester once since 1983. I have successfully escaped the snow banks and have completely lost track of most of the kids I went to school with. Kids? Well, the last time I saw most of them they were kids. I just ran into one of them on this very flight. An incredible amount of life experiences have passed since the last time we saw each other within the halls of high school. Personally, I have six children from two marriages, attended art school, and graduated with a teaching degree. I have been a teacher, aerobics instructor, bartender, waitress, child care director, stay at home mom, children’s church coordinator, barista supervisor, author and freelance writer. I have experienced tremendous highs and debilitating lows. And a voice in my head is now asking me that trite little question that was put to me and every other child at some point in their life: “So, what are you going to be when you grow up?” Or perhaps, it should be phrased: “Am I what I expected myself to be when I grew up?”
First of all, I don’t think that I really ever had a clear cut plan about what sort of career path I had for myself back then. I believe this is just as well because I have learned over the years that life throws you enough curveballs and epiphanies that your game plan needs to be adjusted along the way. My goals have not been so much a job description. My goals were to be creative, determined, and to make a positive difference. Have I done these things? Yes. I have surely gotten sidetracked at times, but I always find my way back to them.
Secondly, I’m not done yet. “Growing up” is not the end. I have more learning and growing to do. I intend to apply my goals and grow until my journey abruptly ends. If we are not growing we are dying. On the inside we are still the same child that we started out to be no matter how old we get. We are shaped by the events and people around us, but we stay the same at the core. And just for the record, I have not outgrown my distaste for hats and I still happily use my little red “Son of a Gun” hairdryer from my high school days. Really. And it’s only been duct taped once.