Tomorrow is a big day for me. 10 years ago, I woke up to a bright, warm day. The sun was shining, there was a buzz around my house, and I had family coming into town. Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” was on the radio pretty much every time I was in the car. I wore a sky blue shirt and peasant skirt, but nobody saw my outfit. Because it was hiding under a black polyester robe.
10 years ago, I graduated high school.
I moved out of my parents’ house the year after I graduated and went down to Florida (where I met Sarah!). I was there for four years, then I moved back home. Six months later, Andrew and I started dating (again). Six months after that, we got engaged. And another six months later, we got married. Here we are now, three years later. Over the course of 10 years, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned things about the world. I’ve learned things about myself.
I learned that friendships that you had for the first half of your life don’t necessarily make it into the second half of your life. And sometimes it’s your own fault. People tell you, when you’re young, to do what feels good and to do what you want to do. I’m here to tell you that that doesn’t always end well. I did what I wanted, and I did what felt good, and I lost people I loved and cared about.
I learned that, in the end, my parents did know what they were talking about. And, 99.9% of the time, they were right. But, while I know now that I should have listened to them, I wouldn’t trade the whole experience of being on my own for four years for anything. It shaped the woman I am today.
I learned that, despite the fact that my husband and I loved each other as best we knew how in high school, if we’d married right after graduating like we’d discussed, it would have been a rough first few years. We would have stuck it out, but I’m thankful we both had those years apart to grow up and in to ourselves. These first few years of our marriage have been wonderful together.
I also learned that best friends can appear overnight. When I moved down to Florida, I started working with Sarah in September of 2007. By December, we realized we were inseparable. But it wasn’t something we did on purpose. It just happened. We became best friends without even trying. Now, 9 years later and 238 miles between us, we’re still going strong.
So, to anyone out there who’s graduating, I want to tell you to go for it. You’ve earned your chance to see what’s out there. But tread carefully. Because life never goes the way you intended, but if you stick it out, it can turn out to be everything you hoped for.