I have two smaller Sterilite tubs that hold everything from childhood dance costumes to old worn out pointe shoes to second grade writing journals. They are both usually tucked in a corner behind the stereo cabinet and out of sight, out of mind, I suppose. So when I saw the container, I immediately opened it. I rifled through newspaper clippings, old notes from friends, my Senior picture book, and this guy…
My personal “Coat of Arms” from my senior English class. I asked on Facebook, “does anyone recall what the six sections meant on your Coat of Arms in Mrs. Brown’s class?” No one seemed to remember. In fact, it seemed I was one of the few who had even remembered doing the assignment let alone having kept it for 17 years. Further proof of my weirdo-ness, I suppose.
I looked at it over and over trying to jog my memory and figured out the 4th and 6th sections. I just couldn’t seem to put my finger on exactly what the others were meant to share. So, I emailed Dr. Brown and she was able to solve the mystery for me!
So, in the year 2000… seventeen years ago… when I was 17, perhaps 18… we were given this assignment:
Create your own Coat of Arms. Each of the six questions will answer a question about you.
Upper Left = What do you regard as your greatest personal achievement to date?
- My picture: the path taken and the path less traveled. And wording that reads, “shine your own light”
Upper Right = What do your regard as your family’s greatest achievement?
- My picture: every link strengthens the chain. We need all of us to be strong together.
Left Middle = What is the thing that other people can do to make you happy?
- My picture: believe in me.
Right Middle = What do your regard as your own greatest personal failure to date?
- My picture: icky yucky love stuff
Lower Left = What would you do if you had one year to live and were guaranteed success in whatever you attempted?
- My picture: broadway or Hollywood
Lower Right = What three things would you most like to be said of you if you died today?
- My answer: moral, smiley, talented.
And I have to say, while I would definitely change number four since Mr brehm came into my life, I think that my 17 year old self and my 34 year old self might be cut from the same cloth. But I still think it’s hilarious that I thought of not being in love at 17 as a failure. Whatevs. The reality is that I was terribly insecure with my body and pretty much word vomited when I tried to open my mouth around the opposite sex. Something that perhaps I just had to grow into. Something I didn’t know I didn’t even need to spend time worrying about… much like so many things, right?
My very fave though… “shine your own light.” People ask me all the time how I remain so positive and to that I say, I suppose I always know that even if I’m not perfect, I have something unique and weirdly different to offer. Just like everyone does;).
It’s funny to look at this now. To know that I had no clue what would happen in my future. I didn’t know about college, and Adam, and Austin, and my career, and my boys, and miscarrying, and premies, and cancer. But I know that I did know joy. Happiness. And I was already learning the idea of being me. What a wild ride.
Lessons from my 17 year old self: shine your own light. Love your people. Dream big. Be who you are. And apparently don’t worry about love. It will happen when it’s meant to be.
Oh, and guess what… you might not be all that different from your current self 17 years from now. But you might want to keep your Senior English projects to be able to compare.
And I suppose my lessons from 34 year old me wouldn’t be all that different. Shine your own light. Be you. Do big. This is your life.
What one answer would you have answered the same in high school as now? Which one would be radically different?