Thursday, June 9, 2016

High School... 10 Years Later!

As often stated, I am a walking Timehop App. Not only do I remember most dates, I also relive the feelings of that day almost exclusively. June 8, 2006, I graduated high school, waving to some borrowed parents who had just found out that their father had passed away. Little did I know that just a few days later I would know what that feels like. But on June 8, I was a happy camper, achieving something for the first time in my life that warrants some congratulations. For many, a high school diploma is the first step into adulthood, and now 10 years later I am watching people who still haven't made that step. That day I had dreams and plans. I was looking forward to my adult life. Now, on June 8, 2016, I'm 10 years in, and to reminisce about those plans I had about adulthood is a sobering thing to do.

Without any melancholy, I can safely claim that none of my dreams and plans came true. That's ok, but it's true! Growing up, my dream had been to live the American high school experience I saw on TV, and today 10 years ago that dream came true. From that day on, none of my dreams came true again, due in part to the dream of seeing my parents back together or being able to come back to the States after the summer to go to college dying with my father the next week. Only a few days after those dreams were born on Graduation Day I should have known they were never going to come true. Yet, some of them took 10 years to say goodbye to. One relic of the high school days, a person I failed to say goodbye to since that day, finally dropped the mic a few months ago, and with that the last piece of connection to that Thursday in June 2006 exited my life.

In the meantime, I did incredible things I didn't even dare to dream about that day. Let's face it, 17-year-old Sina who believed a high school diploma was an achievement is pretty laughable now. I am super happy about my plan of going back to school in the US not working out. Today, there would be no Scotland, no journalism, no Master education and no 30 countries visited in my resumé if I had been able to make these plans reality. Today, I look back and think I dodged a bullet, although I had to go through the pain of losing my father, a dark, dark summer (and various even darker times after that) and being bullied for my faith, my decision not to drink or have sex. The six months after high school taught me more than the 12 years prior, and when I returned to Hanford, CA that Christmas I already wasn't the same anymore, and I said goodbye to more dreams. I'm sad about shattered dreams but it just simply had to happen...

Then, in the beginning of 2007, I actually realized that I had failed, for now, to make these dreams come true. When you're 17, though, you rightly believe that "not now" doesn't mean "never". It turns out, I was wrong about that. The same place, my adopted family's house in California, where I said goodbye to the plan of going back to the US became the place where I assumed that not going to study in China in 2010 wouldn't mean I'll never go live there. Another six years later, "not now" actually became "never", as it is highly unlikely I will find the strength to start over (again!) for the 5th or 6th time. I was young and thought I could do anything, because that's what high school taught me. What a farce! Most of the things I haven't been able to do didn't fail because I didn't try hard enough; usually it was money, health or people who died on me that prevented my plans from coming into motion.

I would love to say "I can't believe it's been 10 years, I remember everything about graduation", but I'd be lying. In fact, I don't even know where I went after graduation. Those ten years did not pass like a blink of an eye. Instead, they dragged out a horrendously long process of making realistic plans. There is now officially no remainder of my high school days after I quit talking to my last remaining friend from the class this year. That is certainly not my choice, but 10 years isn't nothing. You lose people, lots of them, they get married or move, you just don't keep up with them. To think I managed to keep one of them around for 10 years is actually quite incredible. In the end, I can conclude that our graduation speech definitely didn't apply to me: "Work hard and you will prosper", they said. Total lie! "There are no friends like your high school friends!" Another inaccuracy, fueled by my bitterness! "You will remember high school all your life!" I don't remember s***.

Like most of my memories, high school has become one that is being rated as either a good one or a bad one. I don't remember why, but it was a wonderful time, that's all I need to know. People do reunions because they like to revisit times when they didn't have to think about bills and bulls***! But at the same time, I have to attribute my chronic dissatisfaction to having had dreams one day and seeing them shatter over time. If I could tell my 17-year-old self one thing it'd be to not expect too much. None of my alternatives were bad, and watching my achievements makes me feel great. The only time I don't is when I consider what didn't work out, for whatever reason. My connection to the California days ripping might be sad but is, arguably, the better way. It's only sad when considering that I had once made the plan to not have that connection rip. Advice on graduation shouldn't be "anything is possible", it should be "make possible whatever you get the chance to get!" and then maybe looking back on 10 years post-high school wouldn't be a parade of broken dreams, but solely a celebration of achievements. 

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