Today, May 29th, 2022 marks 10 years since I graduated high school. I remember the redemption arc of my high school career. It was the truest of underdog stories. From a bullied, broken kid who was selectively mute to a leader among his peers.
10 years later, I sometimes wish that’s where it all settled.
What people didn’t see back on May 29th, 2012 was the fact I essentially had one foot in the grave. My mental health was failing me. I was in a crisis and I was in a crisis that I barely escaped out of with my life.
Truth be told, I never thought I’d see this day. I thought once I closed the high school chapter, my life was essentially over. I know that sounds odd, but at that point, it was all I knew. And in those days, I hated change. I struggled mightily to keep my head above water and at some point, it all became too much. Those were, hands-down, the darkest days of my life.
The past week, I’ve been looking back at old journals and Facebook posts from that period, and I’ve come to this conclusion:
It’s nothing short of a miracle I’m still here.
I wish I was embellishing. I shouldn’t be here.
Yet, here I am.
It took a long many years to get to a point where I can look in the mirror and be proud of all I’m doing. I still have regrets about how long it took, though. Maybe I shouldn’t. After all, I’ve always been a late bloomer. If anything, I have been remarkably consistent on that fact throughout my life.
As I’ve been looking back these last couple weeks, I’ve kind of been in awe but also sobered by the impact of it all on me. I wish I had known 10 years ago what I know now: That some of the truly best days of my life hadn’t even happened yet. It’s hard to see when you have the tunnel vision of the moment. It’s hard to see when you’re in a storm so great with the wind and rain crashing around you. But in hindsight, I can see it all now. The good. The bad. The downright ugly. I guess it’s true: With age comes experience.
Now, my hindsight is signaling what the next 10 years can be about. The sheer amount of potential they have. In the last 10 years, turbulent as they have been, I have found my voice. The next 10 will be about using it more. Speaking life into others with it. I also can’t help but shake the feeling still that something big will happen. Something good. Something that will help heal the landscape of not only my own life, but others’ lives, as well. I have never stopped believing that stories have an immense power that nothing else on the planet has and I am still determined as ever to tell mine. That’s been one part of me that will never change.
I’ve always been very aware of my mortality. When you’ve been on Death’s doorstep, it’s almost impossible not to be. I’m not afraid of death, but I also don’t want it to happen anytime soon. I’ve come a long way from those days where I was literally plotting my own demise. But I also feel a sense of urgency. We just never know what the future holds.
Steve Jobs gave a commencement speech at Stanford University back in 2005 and proposed the question “If this were going to be the last day of my life, would I be proud about what I am about to do today?” Then he said “If the answer has been no for too many days in a row, then I know something has got to change.”
That’s been kind of like a North Star to me these last number of years, and it’s even more so one now.
For the first time in my life, I’m seeing crows feet when I look in the mirror in the morning. I see people who were in grade school 10 years ago graduating now. I’m not getting any younger and I feel it. It’s kind of been a wake up call to take the bull by the horns and do what I feel I have been put here to accomplish.
I dream a dream of days gone by
It’s hard not looking back though. There are things I wish I could do differently. Different routes I’d wish I had taken. Giving college more of a chance. Being less dogmatic. Fewer existential crises. It all made me softer, sure, but dear Lord, I wish it had been easier.
I keep getting reminders of those final high school days on social media and it’s made me wish I had handled my qualms with my high school differently in the years since. My dad asked me the other day who I was mad at there, and I have to say, I couldn’t answer that question. That alone tells me what I have to do.
I seek to put that all behind me now and think about what the next 10 years will be about.
My 30’s are approaching. What will I do with them?
I’ve heard people say they settle in during their 30’s. Their lives are less turbulent than they were in their 20’s. I want that, for sure, but I don’t want to settle in. I want to be just as curious and just as thirsty as I’ve always been, even more so. I’ve always said the day I stop learning is the day I can pack it up.
10 years went by lightning quick. In the last 10 years, there have been three presidential terms, 3 different Presidents, 1 total eclipse, marriage equality, a pandemic, 3 different jobs, a few different failed career paths, a coming out, more than one existential crisis, 3 family deaths, 2 hospital stays, 5 new windshields, and a new cat. It’s been a journey. Looking back, it’s evident that I’ve had someone looking out for me.
Now, it’s time to signal the next big thing. I don’t know what that is yet, but I feel a shift happening. I have for some time now. Anticipation is growing for the future. But I first have to make peace with the past.
With that, to anyone I’ve been less than kind to, less than gracious to, or not been fair to, I am sorry. I seek to do better by you. And to anyone who’s hurt me over the years, I forgive you. There is no longer any ill will or animosity on my end. Let’s put the war to bed. Ceasefire. Let’s all do better together.
The last 10 years have been a ride, for sure.
Informed by the past and invigorated by the future, we move forward to the next 10. I’m excited and expectant for all that the future will hold.
Stay tuned. Greater things are yet to come.