This past Saturday I attended a book release/signing of a High School classmate, Jeanine Cummins. I was so excited to go, because I think it’s an amazing accomplishment. This is Jeanine’s 3rd book and because of FB I found out about it ahead of time.
As a woman I feel strongly about supporting the wins of other women and this is a huge WIN!
As a high school girl that was NOT something that I understood or something I was ever a part of. I never played sports, I never got the team concept and while I had sisters…I certainly never thought of other girls as part of some sisterhood at large. Quite the opposite, the more I evaluate myself at that age, the more I realize what a mean girl I often was. I believe it came from switching schools so often (11 in total before high school). I didn’t get to keep friends long, so I did not connect easily. Staying closed off and unapproachable felt much safer and at the time, I had no idea what that meant giving up.
The author was answering questions when I walked in. Arriving a little late, I had missed the reading and escaped any awkward small talk prior. I scanned the room and saw many familiar faces… faces that I would have passed in the hallway or shared a class with….many who I was not very nice to…some I just ignored, some I was mean to. None of them did anything to deserve it. I was happy to be there, yet felt so out of place. I had never accepted these people as friends. Would they accept me? Did I deserve to be accepted?
I was invited, after all, I told myself, as if I needed an excuse.
It was an interesting experience, the woman I am today, walking into a room and being jerked back to those old feelings.
I found myself immediately engulfed in my phone.
STOP IT! I heard some voice inside of me say. You are here…be loving, be open, be present…just be who you are today. SHOW UP. I put the phone in my back pocket and promised myself I would not take it back out until I was leaving. I would not allow myself that chicken exit. I was here to be supportive and regardless of my insecurities or fears, I would be.
WHAT a wonderful experience I had once I made that decision. I felt the shift almost immediately. As the Q&A ended and I began to interact with old classmates, I had the same experience over and over…one by one I met people as if for the first time. Faces I knew but had never taken the time to acknowledge on any deeper level. It may have been them, it may have been me…I am sure I am not the only person who has grown up some since high school. I was so relieved to feel accepted. The funny thing is, I think I already was, I just needed to accept myself.
A group of us chatted until it was over and decided to go to dinner. What was going to be a quick, show my face, buy a book and make an excuse to leave politely sort of event… turned in to an evening that showed me some things. They are things I already know, but often forget when I am in my head about it.
When you are open and real and accept people immediately, you are often rewarded in turn. I only wish that I knew that in High School, I lost out on a lot…there were some really awesome people who I never got to know.
If you could go back, what would you tell your high school self?
BTW, because I STRONLGY believe in supporting people who inspire me…check out my friend, Jeanine Cummins, newest book The Crooked Branch.