“We we were in San Paulo last Summer with our two sons on a family vacation. We wanted to expose them to the cultural institutions and a rich architectural traditions. It was amazing! Have you ever been there?” said Fred.
(I was at one of those boring high school graduation receptions, trying to mingle with crowd of complete strangers.)
“Nope.” I said.
I could tell Fred wanted to tell me more so I asked some open-ended questions and listened politely.
“The summer before that we took the boys to Saint Petersburg Russia. It is a port city on the Baltic Sea….have you ever been to Russia?”
“No. I replied, but I did spend two weeks in Ibiza when I was sixteen…” (My comment fell on deaf ears.)
Five minutes later, Fred moved on to another guest at the party. I could tell he was talking about one of his favorite subjects…
Himself and his travels to far away places.
I remember being at a family reunion several years ago, the same dynamic was taking place. Some of the cousins were trying to one up each other by talking about certain far away places they’d been to and discussing obscure facts that you would only know if you had been there too.
At the time it left me feeling inferior and inadequate.
I have a forty-year class reunion coming up next month. I’m not going. I am pretty sure I’ve written about it here on the blog not too long ago (but I could be wrong). 😉
I grew up in small town USA. My high school class numbered around 150. I spent 13 formative years of my life (counting kindergarten) with many of these people. I was small and shy the whole time, except for the last 6 months of my senior year. I was one of the last ones picked whenever we would choose sides in PE class, because I was so small.
I take full responsibility for the fact there are just a couple of classmates with whom I still keep in touch.
In the past, I have gutted it out, and attended all the five and ten-year reunions. As many of you, I have grown and matured in my people skills, and while no one would ever consider me the life of the party, I do know how to engage in small talk with perfect strangers if I need to.
I can actually be kind of funny sometimes.
Few weeks ago, as I was again mulling over this upcoming class reunion,I decided to reprogram my dark thoughts with something new. Identify some things to be thankful for, from my years in school. Here’s what I came up with:
I met my wife there. If I never went, I most likely would have never gotten that first date .
I learned to read.
I learned to write.
What really excites me when I compare the person who graduated high school forty years ago and the person I am today is what has happened on the inside. The feelings of inferiority and inadequacy are
80% 90% less than they used to be.
I have navigated the treacherous waters of life, parenting 4 young people into adulthood. They all stay in touch and love to come home. I have stayed married to the same woman for thirty-eight years, and we still like each other….a lot.
Well, I need to run. My siblings and I are taking my dad out for breakfast this morning for his 84th birthday. I am a rich man…even if I have never been to San Paulo.