It's okay to be the same person you were in high school

I went to an amazing high school. I realize that more and more every time I think about it. I went to one of those small, private schools where I was one of 75 in my graduating class, received tons of personal attention, creative opportunities, one-on-one attention and most of all, made some fantastic friends. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

Yet often when I think of high school, I think of the awkward, shy, braces-wearing girl that was often stumbling over herself, messing up class presentations and worried about not being popular enough. Even though I had this amazing group of friends, high school was still a hard time for me.

I'm also one of those rare people who still sees and keeps in touch with high school friends on a regular basis. Not as much as I would like of course, but I don't go more than 8 months without seeing them all. They are such a special group of people, and I'm so lucky to have them.

This weekend, I attended a high school friend's wedding. Since both her parents at some point or another have taught at my former high school, there were several of my former teachers in attendance. Even though I see my friends regularly, events such as high school holiday parties or class reunions are pretty anxiety-inducing for me. I constantly feel like I have to impress my teachers and former classmates and I have to BE somebody different.

I mean, come on, doesn't everyone want to go and wow everyone from their former high school with a major transformation?

Talking to my former teachers, former college counselor, and former principal, I realized I really haven't changed that much since high school....and that it's not such a bad thing. I was awe-struck by how many specific details these teachers remembered about me even almost 15 years later. Instead of remembering the awkward, shy, anxiety-ridden girl, they remembered the conversations we had, the papers I wrote, the presentations I gave, and the potential they saw in me to do something great. They were so genuinely excited to see me, get the official report of how I was doing, and make sure I was happy.

In that moment, I realized that one of the best parts about my high school experience is that I've ended up with several sets of second parents. Whether it's my friends' parents (who still get together for book club every month), a former teacher, or a former college counselor...they all love me and want me to be doing well. ME. The girl who has certainly evolved since high school, but who fundamentally hasn't changed. I've decided to start embracing that as a good thing, and maybe this year the annual high school holiday party won't be so scary.