Read your high school yearbook.I know it sounds crazy. But your old high school yearbook holds bigger secrets other than your unrequited love, the awkward years you wore braces, and how you failed the world-famous popularity contest. It holds the secret of hope. Yes, it’s strange, but let me explain.
A few days ago, I was having one of those days. I looked in the mirror and saw a failure. My face sucked. My hair sucked. And the thing I called a career sucked. I thought, “How did it get like this. This is not how life was supposed to be.” Don’t ask me why, but for some reason those feelings prompted me to clean. As I cleaned, I came across my trusty high school yearbook. It said, “Out of the Blue” on the cover. The irony. I felt like I was still stuck in a blue phase of my life. As I cracked open the book and blew the dust away, I was overcome with emotion. I felt grief as I came across the pictures of old friends who passed away. I felt regret as I came across the school’s clubs and opportunities I missed out on because of fear and the need to “fit in”. I felt scorn as I saw the “bullies” that found a way to make me feel like less than a person. Of course, it wasn’t all bad. The old photographs of my favorite teachers, my run-in with Bon Jovi, and good times with friends warmed my heart. There will always be something about those old pep rally photos. And of course reading the notes from friends who signed my yearbook did something too. It brought out the child in me as I deciphered the messages and codes left by partners in crime. (Note to high school students: Never mention inside jokes in yearbooks without describing in details what it is. In five or more years, you will have no idea what those little jokes were.)
But than something happened. There within those pages, during my journey to the past was a reflection of myself I didn’t realize I had anymore. And it took former classmates and old teachers to remind me of it. My heart smiled as I read notes from friends and acquaintances that expressed their excitement for when they read my articles in national magazines one day. Others told me, that they admired my drive and ability to pursue such a risky career. And than there were those, who encouraged me by saying, “I know you can do it, Terri. You were voted class writer for a reason. Make us proud.” Reading through those notes, restored a certain strength and spirit I didn’t even realize I had. I couldn’t help but cry realizing how many people believed in me even back then as clueless 17 year old. And then it dawned on me. I wasn’t as clueless as I thought. If all those people could believe in me, the least I could do was believe in myself. I had chosen my path at such a young age and actively pursued it. No, I wasn’t the editor-in-chief of a big time magazine and world-famous columnist yet. But I was published in several national publications and even mentioned in books. I had made it half way to my dream and my high school yearbook provided the motivation to go the rest of the way. Yes, the road was hard and it will get me lost. But that yearbook held the key to get me the rest of the way. It rekindled my passion for writing and reaffirmed my soul’s desire. I suddenly found the encouragement I needed to continue on in this crazy world of writing and journalism. Who knew a simple journey to the past would hold the key to my future? Oh, that’s right. My heart did… and my high school classmates.
Turns out high school isn’t as superficial as we once thought.
Have you looked back at your high school yearbook? How did it make you feel?
TERRIfic Quip: Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.