30 years since achieving one milestone. 30 years in the making to get to this one.
This particular milestone is 30 years since graduating from high school. To celebrate and participate, I got together with some of my former classmates concurrent with a somewhat related local annual celebration. The conversations were good, unfortunately short, and a nice bite-sized catch-up.
Before getting directly to the point I have in mind for this blog; reconnecting with my classmates was fantastic. Great updates and probably most importantly, a wonderful glimpse at how each of us approached adulting. Some more toward reckless abandon, some a little more reserved, but all who were able to travel and join came back just to catch-up with one another. No agendas. No strife. No comparisons. Just grown-ups sharing stories about years, kids, families, and of course, this whole aging process!
In pop culture, class reunions are fraught with financial measurement, physical fitness comparisons, and people are basically the same as their teenage self.
The comparisons. "Am I more or less successful than her?" "Did I live up to expectations they had of me?" "Nobody can stay that fit on their own, they must have a trainer."
As you read this, please consider: Are you exactly where you thought you'd be the day after high school graduation?
Some people may be, but my guess is that most people aren't. Not for lack of effort or ability. Most of us in high school aren't aware of all of the job and career options available. And after 18 years full of growing and learning, most adolescents haven't really focused on on their strengths. By 18, many of us are still just trying to figure out how to manage, never mind long-term planning.
Another complicating factor is Life Happens. Sometimes it's our choices. Sometimes it's out of our control. Most people don't predict loving a career path then hating it after 5 years. Most people don't imagine being in an accident and losing physical abilities. Life Happens.
Are you today where your adolescent self predicted? If not, so what? There's no redo. There are two constructive options.
Option 1: Reset your goal and get there, if possible.
Option 2: Look back on the time spent. Do not evaluate in terms of what you wished you would have done. Appreciate what has gone well. Appreciate all the other milestones. If your life were a diary, read the words, don't stare at what was not written.
Enjoy your milestones as reminders to celebrate where you are and what you've done rather than bemoan status or missed opportunities.
With rare exception, nobody is as hard on you as you. When people gather to celebrate, they typically don't want to take delight in your perceived shortcomings. Most people want to celebrate your successes as you define them. Most people are supportive and ready to enjoy your story.
Whatever milestone is headed your way, reflect on your story. Don't ruminate on things you can't change. People want to celebrate you. All you have to do is help them do that and celebrate them as well!