No. 14

15 Years (Almost)

This is the post in which I completely date myself. Watch:

Next year is my 15-year high school reunion. I’m actually that old now.

It may come to pass that there’s no official reunion, but the approaching date has led me to reflect on my time in high school.

I still have nightmares about needing to be in class somewhere, but not being sure which class that is because I can’t read my schedule. Even though that never actually happened to me in reality.

If I could sum up my experience of those four years in one word it would be “emotional.” Before freshman year, I had a falling out with friends, so I felt quite alone and spent the year trying to forge new bonds with girls. By senior year, I had a several close friends that felt like siblings. Fifteen years later, I’ve stayed in touch with some people as expected, but some of my closest friends now were people I was just beginning to know as we were leaving that place.

Perhaps the biggest part of reflecting on that time has been deciding what advice I would have given my teenage self if I could. And it comes down to this:

Who you are will always eclipse who you think people want you to be.

Defend those who are being made to feel small or less than.

Fall in love with yourself before you fall for any boy.

In some ways, I’m still giving myself that same advice.

What advice would you have given your teenage self?

{The picture is from my graduation. My friend Dave hates it, but I look awesome so I keep it framed.}

About brandi

Brandi is a digital strategist, website developer, and founder of Alchemy+Aim, a company that helps entrepreneurs and business owners elevate their online presence and enhance their digital experience. Her academic background in theatre, philosophy and physics was the perfect foundation for launching her business, where she’s worked with Brené Brown, Laverne Cox, Judy Smith, and other notable thought leaders since 2013. She is an advocate for using technology in ways that humanize, connect and serve people as well as for asking deeper philosophical questions and teaching others to think more broadly about impact when they create, particularly in STEAM fields.

17 thoughts on “15 Years (Almost)

  1. That’s a wonderful picture. You both look very handsome. Judging from the picture, it looks like high school was a happy and fulfilling time for you. The advice is so spot on. Sometimes being this reflective doesn’t come easily for me. But when I read others’ reflection, I feel like I could have reflected on that too. As as small as it may seem, the paragraph where you describe having nightmares about missing classes, THIS happens to me too, but I’m dreaming of my college classes. Once in a while I will have this recurrent dreams. I have may recurrent ones. Maybe that could a post.

  2. You were a cutie.

    My advice to my teenage self: (1) play basketball, no matter how bad you are at it, and always try to have the ball. (2) be fearless about asking girls out. They’ll all be your facebook friends, even the prettiest and most popular ones, in 40 years.

  3. I love your advice to your teenage self. I could have used that advice back in the day… {and sometimes, even now} And yes, you do look awesome!

    This August is the TWENTIETH high school reunion. Good lord, I’m old.

  4. I used to feel like the Ugly Duckling, but in the high school reunion I realized that now I look a lot younger than anybody else. That fixed any complex I could keep after years…
    And you do look awesome in the picture!

  5. Oh boy, high school was an emotional time for me too!! I think if I were to give myself some advise it would be this:

    Have confidence in what you do. Don’t spend the next few years thinking you’re not good enough. It will get you into bad relationships, bad friendships and ruin some things. Hold yourself up, girl!

  6. Brandi, I love the picture. You sparkle with life and intensity – in that regard, nothing has changed!!

    I really connect with what you say about friends and friendships changing and deepening, as I too was scarred by a falling out with friends. I am so lucky now to have deep, strong friendships with wonderful women (I include you in that category, my dear!), and I am eager to see how the years continue to strengthen each bond.

    Carly

  7. Advice for my teenage self – don’t take yourself too seriously. That actually still applies today. Hmph, funny how things work :)

  8. HOW DARLING ARE YOU??????

    Ok by far the biggest piece of advice I would give to my teen self — instead of hiding my size 4 body under the Laura Ashley vintage ‘frocks’ I was so enamored with — I would tell myself to wear some less shapeless attire and ROCK THAT BODY!! :)

    (a bit shallow, but really, I used to wear long billowing dresses. WHY??)

  9. I’d say… Think w your head and not with your heart
    What they taught you to be wrong might not be wrong in another country or place
    Men are different from women, we’ll never understand why, and we have to accept it
    Your true friends are those who don’t judge you, and will go along w your good and bad ideas
    Never underestimate the power of a glass of wine at the end of the day

  10. I had just attended mine last May. I thought it would be quite awkward but I ended up having a good time. I did once write a list to my 14-year old self and remembered writing, ‘A trip to the principal’s office isn’t the end of the world’. I was a goodie-two shoes then and now seemed to think I could have enjoyed high school more if I wasn’t so uptight.

    I do agree to your last advice, one that would still apply to the present times. :)

  11. I love what you said about the picture–made me laugh! You do look great!

    And what would I tell my teenage self? About the same thing you’d tell yours. But I’d also tell myself to speak up and not be afraid, because I was SO shy (still am). My senior class gave everyone superlatives of some sort, and mine was “Quietest Spirit.” Being quiet’s not so bad, but missing out on things because of it can be.

  12. What a cute picture! I have a small box of pictures from my high school days as well, and even though parts of me cringe when I stare at my braces and awkward hair, another part of me misses those young and carefree days of youth. (I also have the same dream of my classes! I am always in my calculus class, having gone through years and years of life, only to realize I forgot to take my final exam…)

    The best advice I would have given my teenage self would have been to call my mom more often. I never listened to any of her advices, and all throughout my early 20s, we would argue all the time, usually one of us in tears by the end of the call. Always over a boy, always over reasons why I didn’t want to move back to California yet. In my later 20s (and many boyfriends and moves around the country), I realize how right she has been about the decisions I’ve made. We’ve grown so much closer and no longer argue, but I do regret all those years of being away from home, trying to do my own thing, when my biggest cheerleader in the world was in the very house I lived in! Yes, I would have told myself to call home and not waste a decade of living in other cities.

    Cheers!

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Credits

Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.