This spring marked my 20th year out of high school and of course that meant digging out the old yearbooks.
I think one of the things that surprised me most as I read through the handwritten comments left by classmates in my senior scrapbook was the confidence I exuded at that time.
“You are very talented and even though I tease you, I know you’ll be successful. Plus you’ve got enough character to last you forever!!!”
“You have so much energy and enthusiasm for life. I know you’ll be successful wherever you go!”
There are a couple of things I noticed. First of all, people use a lot of clichés and a lot of exclamation points in yearbook posts. Second, I am really amazed at how people commented so much on my confidence and my enthusiasm.
I will admit that I am talkative and full of personality but looking back I feel like in some ways down inside I didn’t have a lot of confidence in high school. So it amazes me that I was able to put on such a confident face for people around me.
But is that the way it goes for people in many stages of life. We are all running around trying to figure things out, trying to survive and just hang in there. Isn’t that the phrase, “Fake it till you make it.” Maybe that’s what I was trying to do back then, act confident, act like I had it together and maybe just maybe I would.
Then again back in those days I was sort of on top of the world. I’d qualified for state speech. I competed at the National FBLA Conference two years in a row. I was in honors classes. I was living life.
Yet inside I was worried if I could keep up with all those things, if I was good enough, if I could make it.
I must have had some confidence somewhere though or I was just really stubborn because I only submitted one college application.
My argument was that if I didn’t get that almighty acceptance letter from Creighton University, God simply didn’t want me to go to college that year.
Looking back, it seems crazy that I would hinge my career on one application but then again, I was never someone who wanted to settle.
My senior year of high school I was put into the mid-level English class; however, within just a few days, I realized I was the only one talking. Soon I felt like I belonged in the upper level class where I could engage in those conversations with my fellow classmates.
So I petitioned my teacher, who didn’t like me, and went with my parents to the principal who forced the teacher to bump me up to the advanced English class.
Again I wasn’t one to settle, at least in some aspects of my life.
And maybe my unique and crazy wardrobe mentioned in several of the yearbook comments lent themselves to the “confidence” comments as well.
“Shay — You’re the only person I know who is daring enough to wear blue docs with shorts. You are definitely one of a kind. Party it up at college!”
Now since this was the late 1990s, I must clarify that “blue docs” meant blue Dr. Martin boots, which were pretty darn cool I might add.
Throughout my junior high and high school career, I wore sunflower Blossom hats, leggings with T-shirts knotted on the sides, bright blue boots and other outfits all my own.
Looking back 20-plus years later, I really am amazed by the confidence and individuality I had back then in spite of teasing and just that idea of living up to everyone else’s expectations.
As an adult in a world with so many problems today, I only hope that I can find and carry that confidence into my next 20 years.