If I may say so myself, I think I was fairly cute coming out of high school.
Considering I started 6th grade with bifocal owl-sized glasses, a bad Raggedy Ann perm wearing plaid and overalls...I think I came out the other side of my public/formal education all right. (Yes, I have a picture documenting that entire ensemble all at once, but I will save everyone the cyber eye burn...)
One of my classmates asked something on Facebook about "how far we've come" and it took a few minutes to dig out a few pictures, and have a fun time looking back on 25 years, and try to put into words how much I've learned.
The problem is, all the stupid cliche's you hear about -- that the end is just a beginning -- that the path we all go down is never what we planned, but we wouldn't undo most of it --
That garbage is all true, to some extent.
I started college at the University of Washington in 1985. I met some fantastic friends, many of whom would remain lifelong friends, which isn't easy to do in a pre-Internet era.
I have some friends I kept in touch with since childhood, and some I did not.
My friend DHan and I have been friends since the fourth grade, and we are still in touch (she's the one in the middle with the good hair...
And Mary Rohrman -- I lost contact with. And when I was in Hermiston, I drove by the old Rohrman Ford dealership where I used to spend a few afternoons helping to sweep the showroom floor with her...and it's been bought out by someone else.
Suffice to say, college for me was fun. I wasn't ready to study academically as much as I needed, which is why I dropped out my Junior year (trying to hold on to financial aid while working 3 jobs and attending school full time was a grade-killer).
But I *did* finish, when I was 32 instead of 22.
And here I am at 43, once again going back to school to make yet another career.
I've been married twice, but the second one took.
It took me 5 years and 5 pregnancies to have one healthy baby.
In 25 years I've lost two grandparents, one father, a few friendships, and countless pounds (which I gained back again, some of the time).
But despite the disasters, I've had family and friends who have helped ride the storms with me.
I consider myself a good person who, although mouthy as hell and not anywhere near above reproach, doesn't intentionally try to hurt anyone. When I get knocked down, I get back up again.
And I love my life.
A good glass of wine and a hug from my little girl at the end of the day, after 25 years of adulthood, that's how I can say my day's been good, and overall my life is a successful one.
So for those of you heading out into the big wide world, my speech to you will be short and to the point:
Realize fame isn't nearly as fun as it sounds. Sometimes obscurity is much more interesting and freeing.
Notoriety and respect cannot be obtained by simply obtaining wealth or a certain age. It's always earned.
Most of the time, life is a game to be played, while realizing that you are not exempt from the rules. Personally, I never met a rule I didn't want to bend, and sometimes break. But realize that they're there for a reason, and sometimes those reasons make sense and sometimes they stink.
Don't rush into anything, whether it's a marriage or a burning building or other things that are hard to get out of.
No matter how old you are, there will always be someone older and wiser, until you're 116 and the oldest man or woman in the nursing home, and then everyone will just be waiting for you to die. You don't want to be that person.
Aim for something between the doormat and the bulldozer.
And whatever you do, make sure you have fun and be nice to people, especially if they can't do you any good.