There I was, sitting in my seat on the plane back from Cairns after 2 weeks of dazy alcohol fuel shenanigans when I spotted a person I went to school with walking to the toilet with her young daughter. Struggling to remember her name with a water bottle on my head curbing a huge headache, she recognized me and stopped on her way back to her seat. We had a brief chat about the last 10 years and what had been going on, and who we had seen. As I looked at her, I could tell the last 10 years had been a tough one. Her mum died of cancer a couple of years after high school, and had recently spent the last year tangled up in a heavy divorce with her husband. As she was telling me all this, I couldn’t help but remember the last days from senior year, and how she was very excited she had been accepted into a highly sort after program at Macquarie University. She told me she pulled out after the first year to go home to look after her mum when she was going through her cancer treatments.
As she sat down in the vacant seat across from me, her weathered face saddened me greatly. Being a mother seemed to be her saving grace as her young daughter climbed all over her during our brief conversation. But regardless of seeming tired and worn out, she still had that same grin she had back in high school, which told me that all of this hadn’t broken her spirit completely.
Turning 30 last year didn’t bother me in the slightest. But it’s moments like this that hit home when you realize its been a lifetime since the last bell rang at the end of high school. With the invention of Facebook, it has been easier to keep track of old high school friends, what they have been up to, and what type of people life has pushed them to be. For myself, nothing much has changed in the fact I still love big and glitzy. For others, certain choices have led them down a different path, and I often think they look back and say, “Where exactly did I make the decision to be where I am today?”
I often think what was going through my mum’s mind, and what plans she had before falling pregnant with me. She was in Perth at the time, and made the decision to return to Newcastle to be with family, and raise me by herself. When she hit my age, I was already 10 years ago, so unlike myself and others that have had time to reflect over there 20’s and the decisions we have made, my mum really didn’t have that luxury. But she now has found her niche working in entertainment at one of Queensland’s premier live venues.
So as I sat waiting to be picked up, I looked back over the last 10 years and realized probably 4 out the last 10 years were probably wasted. Which isn’t too bad. I have achieved enough to be satisfied professionally and that from 2000 to 2010 was successful time in my life, but then I remembered what I had written as my goals back in high school, and that was to have a wife and family by the time I was 30. So I suppose the term, ‘success’ really has become a loose term with society dictating professional success is true success. For my friend, even though her mum passed away, and is going through a divorce, in my mind, having two kids is still considered success, regardless if she pulled out of the program she fought so hard for back in high school.
To sum up, I think that there are people out there who ride on negativity as an addiction, regardless of professional or personal success, as they see the height of there happiness was the awaiting possibilities of the future at the end of high school. I think the thing I took away from my friend on the plane was that really we have no idea what’s in store after high school. But if you can still smile like you did back then, then life is really just a big laugh, or in my case, a sit-com.