{my senior class photo}

A walk down memory lane... If you noticed on Instagram, I was recently back in my hometown of Chicago visiting my family and friends as I tend to do about once a year, preferably during the summer (aka the best time in Chicago). This year just happened to be my 10 year high school reunion, man how time flies, so it just made sense to make a weekend out of it and let the nostalgia sink in! I still talk to my main group of girlfriends from high school but seeing a bunch of people I went to school with was quite an experience. Full disclosure, my high school experience was quite nice. I always tell people "I got lucky" considering how tough teenagers can be and just the unique nature of the adolescent experience itself. And as a therapist who enjoys working specifically with teens, I just can't help but think about where I was at that time, during those super important years of my life. I think back to my own experience and realize that I really haven't changed too much, aside from having a tad more confidence, less drama with friends and the very fortunate realization that blonde is not my best hair color.  

{a page I designed in yearbook class with a real dress I wore to turnabout in the backdrop}

But aside from the normal developmental milestones we tend to make post grad, I really, truly believe we evolve as people and that our core personality, fears, and desires are fairly similar over our lifetimes. That they always remain a significant part of the person we were and the person we will continue to always be. So to think back about that time when my friends and I all left our little four year safe heaven, graduation caps and futures in tow, and I wondered where I would be when we reunite in ten years, I can honestly say that I might not have been wearing the exact same outfit I imagined, married to the same celebrity crush (yeah turns out that date with Jesse McCartney didn't pan out), or had exactly the same life I dreamed about at 18. But the way I thought about myself, the ambitions I had for my future, the things that were most sensitive and real for me, are really all quite the same now. I always knew I wanted something different and more exciting, I knew I would be equally as passionate about helping people as my creative outlets. I knew I wanted to leave Chicago and see what else was out there, take on the challenge of meeting new people and experiencing new things. All of these things were just as real when I was a tenth grader as they are now, about to turn 28, and although some of the aesthetics might look a little different, they will likely be a more evolved, but similar version when I'm 50, and when I'm 70 and when I'm 100. Living proof pictured below, in one of my newspaper columns encouraging young people to care about politics. And I can honestly say I still stand behind every statement!

{ my column in the school newspaper} 

When I see today's youth, they are mostly coming in for therapy because of some hardship in their life (but what teenager doesn't report hardship at least once a week let's be real) I must say I am really impressed by how mature, thoughtful, and ambitious they are. They all seem to have very clear personas and feelings about the world and how they fit into it. I can say almost every teenager tends to have a bit of angst considering their future and even the day to day lives they sometimes make out to be the center of the universe. But for the most part, at the core of themselves, they are developing a real sense of identity they will carry on for the rest of their lives. And that's why I think it's oh so incredibly important not to downplay a youth's dream, to really listen when teenagers talk, to nurture and support their ambitions as much as possible. I am so grateful to have grown up in a home where my dreams were always supported, my creativity encouraged, and my often, overdramatized ideas (taking a taxi cab to school, midnight scavenger hunts, teepeeing the quarterback's house, making my brand new poodle puppy sit outside in the cold while I filmed him - to name a few) not completely shot down. If I have learned anything from working with teens, babysitting teens, being a teen, it's that our longings, ambitions and fears are always real, no matter our age, grades, salary, or relationship status. The things we obsess over now and then are important and the things that I loved then are still some of the most meaningful things now. So when I look back now, it's with more gratitude, more insight, more forgiveness. And today, I realize I might not have accomplished everything yet, and life is nowhere near perfect, but I think my 18 year old self would be proud. And she would most certainly have loved my reunion ensemble. 

{10 years later...}

I think we did pretty good...



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