For all of last week, I was visiting my grandparents back in SoCal. They live near the beach, which makes for wonderful weather, despite how frizzy it makes my hair. About an hour drive away from there is where I grew up from the beginning of middle school to the end of high school. I can’t remember the last time I actually visited that area. I’ve met with people around places near it in the past years, but not there specifically.
The years I lived there were an especially turbulent time for me (I know, it’s a really awkward age and who doesn’t struggle during these years? But even so, I feel that there was a lot going on for me). Some of those experiences included struggling to adapt to a completely new area and middle school after moving from Washington state (I didn’t want to). Being abandoned by my friend group halfway through sixth grade, desperately looking for new friends, and not really finding a strong friend group. Being just slightly out of reach to making it to the top band in the school and only making it for my eighth grade year. Finding ways to deal with difficult teachers who genuinely scared me. Having a best friend who was a genius (no, actually, I’m not exaggerating) as well as a fast cross country runner, top band player, and artist. I loved her to death, but I also continually felt inadequate. And all this was just middle school!
When I posted on Facebook the dates that I was going to be here, to see if anyone was available/wanted to hang out with me while I was visiting, part of me didn’t expect anyone to respond. It’s felt like so long and I didn’t know who would want to take time out of their break to come and talk to me. In general I’ve been terrible at keeping up with high school friends. When I dropped off in junior year because of the self harming, psych hospitalizations, and overall mental sickness, I feel like I burned some bridges with the way I acted. And if I didn’t do something specifically, it was because I didn’t keep up with them during and/or after. With all the general pain I felt during that time, it was difficult not to associate it with the people as well. Not that they ever contributed, but it was the time itself. It might be an odd thing, I don’t know, but it frustrates me to no end. I wish I had done things differently.
So I was genuinely pleasantly surprised when a few people said they wanted to see me..! Even went out of their way to come visit me when it really wasn’t convenient for them. I was taken aback, in the best way possible, and tried not to overthink it. I tried not to be in a mindset where I felt like I needed to fulfill some sort of expectations that they had for these meet ups. Which were really my own expectations. I didn’t want them to feel like they wasted their time.
It ended up being wonderful.
What fascinated me the most was this filter that seemed to tint my conversations, especially as it related to the past. Looking back on all that happened and how sometimes it felt like everything was falling apart, it’s so funny realizing how dramatic it was. With these meet ups I felt how much we all had matured, even in just the past couple years. I felt the shifts in perspective, acceptance of where we are currently while working toward goals, personal growth, and strength in the face of an uncertain future. The nostalgia of the past made the memories more dear, and even more distant at the same time.
In some ways, I felt thrown back into some of those difficult emotions and memories that I held with me for years. Especially when I was physically near my old high school and the area around there. Having a fresh perspective with the experiences I’ve had over the years was a new phenomenon for me. Not that I hadn’t visited before, or visited some of these old friends before, but I was much more self aware than I had ever been in past visits. Perhaps it made this trip a little more heavy emotionally. At the same time though, it allowed me to be much more intentional with my time, along with my thoughts and reflections.
I was reminded that no one has it all figured out. That we all have our own struggles and plans that probably won’t end up playing out; we have our own interests and hopes for the future that we can’t know for sure will be reached. None of us know how it’s going to end up. It was a truly helpful reminder that I’m not alone in these feelings. I also wrote myself a mental note that I have people I can reach out to as well, that I wasn’t sure I could before. Or didn’t know I could. I’m glad that I pushed myself to socialize much more than I usually would stretch myself to.
I need to remember that I’m only 22.
I have time.
I don’t need to know it all.
And I don’t need to try to be perfect.
On that note, a very Happy New Year! I’ll be taking an indefinite break from social media, which potentially means more writing here. Regardless, I’m going to make it a strong goal to write more frequently.