Have you ever gone to any of your high school reunions?
I skipped the first several and finally attended my first High School Reunion at the 25 year mark.
Actually,we did it in the 26th year because at Rice Memorial High School, the class of 1983 always had to be just a bit different. Ok really we just couldn’t pull it together quick enough so we all said ‘whatever lets just do it next year…’
Honestly, high school wasn’t a good time for me. And I take full responsibility for that.
I let my own lack of self confidence and inability to open my mouth for fear I’d embarrass myself create this other persona that just flew under the radar. I wasn’t bullied or disliked, I was just sort of….there.
As in any high school there were different cliques, the jocks, the popular kids, the brains, the geeks the stoners, etc. I didn’t really self-associate with any of these so I just floated around anyone who would talk to me. Which really put me at a loss. A lot of these kids I knew from kindergarten and still had let go of friendships as we got older and my fear of being found out took over.
What were they going to find out?
That I wasn’t good at sports?
That I didn’t have particularly good study habits and as such, mediocre grades?
That I liked Blondie more that The Clash?
That I never smoked pot, had sex or drank?
I was so afraid to talk to anyone that I just didn’t.
There was this girl.
The ‘IT’ girl.
She was gorgeous.
The Charlie’s Angels hair, the high heel clogs, and she rocked that green polyester uniform skirt like no one else. She was beautiful, smart, popular, nice family, great friends. I couldn’t muster the courage to say a word to her in the four years we were in school together. I look back at that and think its not only sad but also hysterical. Actually, she and I laugh about that all the time!
Twenty years later and facebook is a thing and high school chums are finding each other and I get a friend request, from “the IT girl”!
Oh I accepted the hell out of that one right away.
We started chatting on messenger and over the course of a few months got to actually know each other as adults. I liked this person. The next time I was back in Vermont we met for coffee and she is today one of my closest friends! Who would have thunk it?
The moral to this ‘after-school special’ is that once in the real world and dealing with life, people shed their past selves and we all just realized ‘hey, we are all human...who cares if we couldn’t be seen at the same lunch table as the jocks or nerds. I’m 40+ years old and we have real-world shit do deal with. I’ll be friends with whoever-the-hell I want.
I re-acquainted myself with someone and got the most valuable gift I could have gotten. True friendship. No judgement, no holds barred, ride-or-die friendship. Its beautiful.
Shedding yourself of who you were in high school is one thing. But reinventing yourself into a different, better, well-rounded, spiritual and authentic person with a greater sense of self is a bit more of a challenge.
You can do it though!
First, you need to ask yourself a few questions…
Who are you, or who were you?
Is that such a bad thing?
Maybe it is. Maybe you need to change.
Who do you want to be?
What kind of person do you want to be?
Think about that last question.
What kind of person do you want to be...really?
Let’s assume you aren’t going in the wrong direction here and that you don’t want to be sexist, hypocritical, lying egotistical bigot? If you remember that didn’t work out too well for Frank Hart in the movie 9 to 5. I’m dating myself but who cares I’m 54 and I own it.
But if you are heading in the direction of being a person of integrity, honesty, caring, trustworthy, spiritual, high-vibrating, grateful human being then good for you. And good luck.
It’s not that hard to start making changes towards the better.
Start with some simple guided meditation. There are so many great ones on YouTube.
Aaron Doughty and his series basically saved my life.
Guys, it’s ok to meditate. No one is going to question your manhood just because you do meditation at night before bed instead of (or maybe after) you check the scores on SportsCenter. You can be a better person and still root for the Cowboys to make it to the Superbowl (we can dream).
You can start small like that. And you can add in simple things like saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to the server at your local coffee shop. Call them by name, and observe their expression.
It’s funny what happens when a simple act of kindness is granted to someone. You actually make them smile! Oh and after shock, you also feel good (oh look just doing that once and you are vibrating just a bit higher. Now do this everywhere, everyday).
Taking small steps towards a goal of being a better person will lead you towards success, you can achieve that goal.
What happened to the old you?
Spoiler Alert! The old you is still inside somewhere and guess what? He is pissed!
He’s not getting fed and he needs to be fed.
He wants attention more than a 2-year old waiting in line with you at the bank.
And why are you in line at the bank? Because human interaction is a more pleasant experience than fighting with a machine that won’t accept that torn $20 bill you are trying to deposit.
Just think about that for a minute. Human interaction is more pleasant than dealing with a machine. I know, I know, convenience blah blah blah but if the bank is open and there’s no line, and there’s usually no line these days. Go in. Say hello! They’ll be glad you came in and so will you.
Ok back to our lesson…
The old you isn’t so easy to let go of.
You can’t just wave goodbye and expect it to go away.
It doesn’t want to leave. It will be all alone.
“Don’t abandon me here!”
“I’ll show you who’s boss!”
Ahhhh there it is. Just as you are certain you have changed lanes and crossed over onto the universe’s new path to spirituality and gratitude the old you tries had to help you not forget he's still with you. He comes out and veers you back off course.
“Come on, let’s just stop for a drink at the old stomping ground!”
But you’re supposed to be at the gym.
“Come on, light up!” one cigarette won’t kill ya!”
Actually…..(see surgeon general’s warning on...well, everything)
“Hey, check out that hottie on (Tinder, Grinder, Daddyhunt, Scruff, ChristianMingle, whatever your app of bad choices is), its just a quickie who cares” The old you wouldn’t. The new you won’t find out. Just say hi, chat a bit, you don’t even have to meet up.
And there it is. Not only are we back in our old lane, we got off the highway and it was exit only.
How do we get back on. Back on the path to being the better person?
To yourself. Then to anyone you hit as you careened toward that off-ramp. Be a man and fess-up. Admit your mistake and be sincere.
Then forgive yourself.
And just get back on the highway, change lanes and don’t look back.
As I grew older, and more self confident and sure of myself I found myself quite content and happy with who I was and in some circles, with the reputation I made. I was proud of that.
I sit here writing this and think, Oh God, I was proud? ….of THAT?!
As I started on my own path of spirituality and changed lanes toward the exit to a better me, a better life, better choices and to be a better example to my children and to the world I realized something. I’m not driving a Suburban. There’s a few different shades of myself I may bring but they are all on this road with me. The ones that hold me back, I just don’t have room for.
Guys. Be careful.
That old you is hidden in the trunk still and when you go to get the groceries out he hijacks you.
I thought I found happiness and I could just toss that old me away or hide him and just be the better person. I was being the better person, for the most part. I mean I wanted to be. Truly.
But my demons didn't just stick around, they didn't just haunt me and tempt me. They were thrown back in my face like a 96 mph fastball. And they stung like one. The worst part? I stepped up to the plate and was at bat without even realizing it. My next entry will dive deeper into my personal battle and the gauntlet I went through to break free but for now a word to the wise:
YOU CAN”T ESCAPE THAT PERSON!
Wait, that’s wrong, you can escape them. But you can’t forget that person, nor should you. It just takes work. You have to know who you want to be and then you actually have to...wait for it….
Be that person.
All the time.
When you walk down the street and your buddy from the bar says hi and tells his friend visiting from out of state “Oh my god this guy will drink anyone under the table!” that should make you cringe now. And when he invites you to join in simply tell him that was then, and now you barely have a beer on a Friday night. He’s going to be shocked! He’s going to try to lure you in for one. He is going to try anything and everything to get you to drink. “This guy is the best! So much fun, he parties like a rock star, we always had a good time!, Come on! Join us, show my buddy just how great you are?!”
What are you going to do? I mean “You were the best…”
Do you really want to change?
Of course you do.
Here is the biggest, hardest, most challenging piece of outliving your past and becoming your best self and waving goodbye to that you that had the reputation that you used to think was ‘so great’ and now makes you want to cry. And not tears of joy here.
You have to tell people.
You have to tell everyone.
Take a queue from Taylor Swift’s line in ‘Just Look What You Made Me Do”
“I’m sorry, the old Martin Edmund can’t come to the phone right now.
Why? Because He’s dead!”
He is dead. But he’s not buried. He’s in a jar on a shelf in the garage that we can go back and look at occasionally and thank GOD that person isn’t any part of you now.
You have to move on. You have to let go. You can’t fit the old you in your new life. He’s going to drag you down, and back, and will consistently tempt you to make the same mistakes that made you the person you don’t even like anymore.
You can outlive your past. But until you announce the death of the old you. Everyone will expect to see him at the next party. And they will expect that whoever you show up with will be a friend of the old you and they will treat your new friend accordingly.
Man up! Don’t let people drag your new friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, or whatever into your past.
Tell them who you were, why you changed and let them know you aren’t going back and then,
Don’t go back there...Ever.