You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go. ~ Dr. Seuss
Yes, that’s me. And this is one very old #TBT!
It’s my graduation picture from the Lyndhurst High School’s class of 1976. Seems a second ago, yet a lifetime away as well. Looking back at that tentative expression, I am deeply reminded of the person I was, the roads I’ve since traveled and the individual who continues to emerge in ways both old and young.
I remember posing for this picture. It was the fall of our our senior year. Surprisingly, the sweetheart neckline top I wore wasn’t even real. It was a sheath provided by the school photographer. All the girls donned it to appear uniform for the yearbook images.
This photo was lost for years but reappeared rather fortuitously today. It serves as a perfect touch point for my most recent podcast entitled Life is a Choice.
Looking at it again reminded me of the era. As high school seniors, we were at the top of our supposed game. For some, senior year marked the end of school and the start of full time employment and early adulthood. A few classmates married soon after graduation. Several would continue on to state colleges and a very few, like myself, would move away to study out of state.
It was a different era back then. In some ways Lyndhurst, New Jersey still looked back fondly on the 1950s. The town enjoyed sticking with the familiar, nestling in to tried and true traditions, following familiar paths.
For me, senior year marked the beginning of a transition period. I was preparing to spread my wings beyond the single square mile that comprised the northern New Jersey town that defined my upbringing.
I didn’t know exactly how life would progress, but I knew that it would. I would soon step out of comfort zones, encounter unfamiliar challenges and broaden previous horizons. In college, I’d meet an entire class of students who would challenge me to operate on a higher academic platform. I’d also get my first opportunity to grow independently, without parental oversight.
Not all of it was easy. At times, the path before me would prove daunting. Yet all of it was fully needful to my then fledgling soul.
I’d been defined by the town and circumstances in which I’d grown up. Some of the definitions were accurate, some were not. The yearbook committee designated me “Most Dignified,” a title that was as awkward and uncool as it was woodenly accurate. I did tend toward the dignified, but with a reserve that needed to be tempered by a great sense of humor.
For me, senior year in high school was a starting point rather than a destination. I was passing through, anxious to continue on a life journey that was still to be disclosed. I would need many additional experiences to find my way, develop my depth and unearth my own identity.
Looking back at the above photo, it’s evident that 1976 wasn’t my seminal year. So very untested, I needed to explore, expand and gain a sense of self.
All of us are on a life journey. For some, there’s a sense of adventure from early on which must be answered as it beckons our participation. For others, there’s a pause, a respite and a time to grow later in life.
I hope you consider listening to the attached podcast. With a title of the same name, the podcast probes the heart. It also reminds us that whether we’re 17, 37, 70 or beyond, life remains a choice.
As you choose to live, may you choose happiness in your life path as well!
Scroll down below the credits and click on the audio link for more . . . .
Maura Sweeney is a Podcaster, Author and Speaker
Her mantra is “Living Happy – Inside Out!”
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