Natlia Naman Temesgen: Lessons learned since high school

June 7, 2014 

Today is the last day I can buy tickets to my 10-year high school reunion party. I'm not going to spend a small fortune on a reboot of prom, but I will probably attend the get-together at Lakebottom Park being held earlier that day.

I'm eager to catch up with old classmates, but also anxious. So much has changed since high school -- and not just my new family or hairstyle.

When I remember my younger self, I am not always pleased. I was ambitious, but uninhibited and sometimes reckless. I was loving, but often too self-interested to be considerate. I was slower to forgive, more easily hurt. And while I have matured since high school and more closely resemble the type of woman I aspire to be, seeing those old faces will remind me that I am still Natalia of 2004 in many minds and memories. I hope more memories were good than bad, but I will come prepared to clarify some ancient histories.

I remember receiving a message from an old high school friend with whom I had fallen out of touch. We became friends our freshman year, but by senior year some silly boy drama had caused a rift between us. The message came in 2012, seemingly out of the blue. She wrote to apologize for the way she acted all those years ago, mentioning that looking back on it she is appalled by how childish she was.

I'd long assumed we'd never talk about it again; almost pretend it never happened, as we continued to stay passively connected through social media. But once I read that message, I quickly forgave her and apologized for my own selfish, immature ways.

It was a special moment in which we acknowledged that even though we no longer connect with some of the actions we took as teens, we still appreciate the repercussions they had and take responsibility for our younger, not-fully-realized selves. I applaud her for taking that initiative and strive to follow her lead.

A few realizations about high school over the past decade:

1. High school is not Disney World. You are likely to encounter these people again after you leave. Conduct yourself accordingly.

2. Hormones are spiking, brain structure and circuitry is reforming, and -- according to Harvard Medical School surveys -- everyday unhappiness is at its peak in late adoles

cence. This is a tough time for everybody, not just you. Try to put that in perspective when you wish ill on your short-term enemies.

3. Try to practice the golden rule and treat others with kindness. A smile or kind word may be the birth of a lifelong friendship, the bridge to a strong business relationship years in the future, or the boost someone needs to simply hang on another day.

4. Finally, don't underestimate the power of an apology. They can be tough to offer no matter your age, but they are a balm to the giver and recipient.

See you soon, Columbus High c/o '04.

-- Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent correspondent. Contact her at nataliadian1@gmail.com or on Twitter @cafeaulazy.

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