This will probably be a series of posts on high school, since it’s coming up on my tenth anniversary of high school graduation.
I had a plan my senior year of high school. It was a solid plan that would ensure a happy life and that I’d be with the girl I loved for the rest of my life. She had gotten into a pretty elite, east coast college on early decision. I knew I’d also be getting into an elite, east coast college at some point, preferably one within a few hours driving distance. We’d see each other on weekends and eventually get married and go on to do whatever we were supposed to do.
Then, the college acceptances happened. I think I applied to eight schools. I got into only one of them–St. John’s, where I ended up going.
Well, that’s not quite true. I don’t tell this part of the story often, but I got waitlisted at the same place my high school sweetheart got in on early decision. I remember being crushed that I didn’t get into my first two school choices on the east coast, and SJU was my safety school. You would think I would have been more excited about possibly getting into the same college where my girlfriend would be going.
I don’t remember feeling excited. I think I remember feeling a sort of dread because I would be prolonging the anxiety of deciding where to go. I wanted final decisions and I wanted to go. I don’t remember how or why I settled on going to Saint John’s. I also don’t remember how I told her that I was going there, but I know I made the right choice.
I’ve always considered myself a romantic. I had that storyline concocted in my head where high school sweethearts would stick it out through college and get married. It was hard to realize that wasn’t my story, but I think it’s ultimately a good thing when you do realize that.
There were a few awkward attempts to keep a spark alive after high school, but none of them really caught fire. I’m OK with that. From what I know now about myself and what I knew about her, we just would not have been happy together.
I’m in a different story now than I was back then. I’m 28 years old and living in my own place, close to Minneapolis. I’m totally fine with that. It’s not the romantic fairytale that I painted for myself back when I was 18, but I’m happy. It’s hard to not do the thing you really want to make you happy. I’m glad I didn’t go down that route.
If I could go back and tell 18-year-old me something about the future, it would be that things work out. You cannot plan out your dream life when you’re 18. I’m sure some people have, but I don’t think it works out that way most of the time. Don’t wish and hope for things that will make you happy, get scared sometimes and do something you didn’t think you would do. It’ll work out.
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