Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Graduation doesn't mean education...

The WE network on television (yes I do watch it...even better - I ENJOY it!) has an interesting show on Monday nights called High School Confidential which chronicles the lives of several teenage girls throughout the four years of high school. In watching this show, I am in somewhat of a purgatorial position. Although I graduated high school almost 7 years ago, I don't feel much older than I did at 18 when I graduated. In some ways, I feel much younger. Graduating high school, I felt on top of the world. I had completed my mandatory 12 years of public education. Technically, I had learned everything the state felt was necessary to produce a functioning human being, and I did it quite well; graduating with honors while escaping minimal reputation tarnsh and with a fair amount of trust and respect from my parents. I had everything figured out - relationships, finances, friendships, religion and politics...nothing was going to change. I was ready to take on the world and I had every confidence that my life was going to be charmed and special.

I was a tad bit naive.

The premise of the show is to follow these girls throughout their high school years and document the different experiences the girls have navigating a large high school, which is eerily similar to the one I attended. There are some girls on the show that I would have been friends with - the girls that were involved and moderately popular in school, but struggled with the battle of good and poor life decisions. There are some girls on the show that, unfortunately, I would never have known existed in my school. Looking through my senior yearbook at all the names and faces that are utterly unrecognizable are a testament to this fact.

I entered the 10th grade with the facade of a hopeless gooy-two-shoes involved in every activity and a head full of possibilities. I graduated my senior year a little bit more cynical and a lot more cautious. In the years that have followed, I have realized that while everyone might grow older, not everyone truly matures. And maturity means a significant more than suppressing giggles during sex scenes and being able to sufficiently hold your liquor.

How have I changed since high school? And have these changes produced a mature adult?

I guess I'll have to start with my definition of an "adult."

Being an adult means...
- resisiting the urge to audition for the Real World because you realize these kids stay up way past your bedtime.
- flipping past the Top 40 and hip hop radio stations because as an evolving woman and human being "apple bottom jeans and boots with the fur" are no longer an acceptable part of my wardrobe.
- finally understanding what my parents meant when they said "nothing good ever happens after midnight." Except for Conan O'Brien of course.

In all honesty, when I graduated high school I defined "adulthood" as having a real job and paying bills...on time. Adulthood isn't a checklist you can evaluate a year after graduating high school or college. It's not a gold starred diploma that arrives in the mail once you've secured your first IRA. You won't find a clause on your marriage or child's birth certificate stating that in signing these papers you have earned the title of "ADULT."

So, am I an adult yet? Well, I've certainly grown in the seven years since I graduated high school. I redefined what I need and want in friendships. I don't have nearly the circle of friends I had in high school and college, but yet the few people that are in my Circle of Trust are incredibly supportive and fulfilling relationships. I am slowly learning that a person's worth cannot be measured by the amount of clothes in a closet, but instead by the positive impact made on the surrounding environment and people. I know now that life isn't a competition to win at EVERYTHING...because that person who is always stressed about being the best and having everything first will most likely reach the ultimate finish line earliest...and have nothing memorable to show for it. I am learning to see the forest and not the individual trees. I am learning that I am my own person and I must live my life to make only myself happy. If I am confident that I am making the best life decision for myself, then that's all that matters.

And yes, I have also learned to pay the bills on time.

No comments: