The radio station I listen to during my morning commute to work has been promoting a local gig that is being touted as a bit of a high school reunion. With bands including Dragon, Eurogliders and 1927 it’s clearly aimed at those of us who were at high school in the 80’s. A time of over sized fluorescent ‘choose life’ tees, bad perms and roller skates. Friendship before Facebook and Kodak before Instagram.
Breakfast radio is a bit chit chat and this particular radio crew have been reflecting on their own high school years so it got me thinking of mine. Not so much about the silver lame´ dress I wore to the school formal but rather what I would tell my high school self if I knew what I know now.
Here is what I came up with:
1. Career choices in your high school year aren’t written in stone. In your case you will never be an Olympic gymnast or figure skater or an award winning actress and that’s absolutely okay. You will mostly look back on those aspirations and think “what was I thinking?” Not because they aren’t noble aspirations to have of course but rather because you have no real talent in those fields. You do however manage to pull off a successful career within the recruitment industry. So whilst you spent most of 1987 panicking about your lack of career choices and even lament about Year 12 Secretarial Studies there is a certain sense of irony about this because you spend most of your career consulting to top corporations about their secretarial needs.
2. The streaking cap will be no more. I would tell myself in years to come that eventually some genius hairdresser invents a technique called foils and even though the exercise of going blonde requires you to look like the tin man you at least never have to endure the torture of the streaking cap ever again.
3. Sitting on cold concrete doesn’t give you piles.
4. Dissecting a toad in Year 8 biology serves you no purpose in life whatsoever and whilst your decision to boycott this exercise may result in detention, it was absolutely the right decision to make. In future, there will be plenty of other hard decisions that won’t always have the best immediate consequence but you learn to trust your instinct and stand by what is the right thing to do.
5. Your mum was right. (Except for the bit about sitting on cold concrete giving you piles.)
6. You think you will never recover from getting your heart broken when your first boyfriend “drops you”. Your heart will break many times over again. You get let down and feel unworthy but eventually you meet someone who will surely make you laugh, make you cry, make you angry but mostly he will make you happy. Then after more heartbreak, in ways you could never imagine, you finally become a mother and though sometimes you will feel as though you’ve lost yourself in the process it will truly be the most extraordinary thing you will ever do.
7. Some of the friends you have now will remain friends decades later and for this you will always be grateful. But other friends come into your life and you learn just how sacred friendship is and how lucky you are. On the flip side, other friends won’t stick around, for whatever reason, and that’s okay too.
8. Pretty in Pink will remain one of your all time favourite movies and you will still get as much enjoyment watching it as you did all those years ago. The soundtrack will continue to influence your music choices but you will never own a dress like the pink one Andie wore to her high school prom.
Looking back, it honestly seems that what I worried about nearly 30 years ago must pale in comparison to what a sixteen year old worries about now. I don’t even know if you can say that it is all relative. I worried about my parent’s divorce, my potential career choices and the fact that my wash and wear perm didn’t look make me look like Olivia Newton John but that was probably the extent of it and I understand that puts me in a pretty blessed position.
What I didn’t worry about was cyber bullying, suicide and mental health issues, terrorism, the ice epidemic and another global financial crisis.
I don’t know what Charlie will worry about when he turns sixteen and I know I can’t protect him from those worries. I do wish and hope though that I can teach him that much of what we worry about doesn’t have to come into play and that there is plenty to look forward to and lots to love.