Decades.

Earlier this week, our agency’s activities committee sent around an email asking people to bring a photo from high school. We’d be able to post them on a board, see what everyone looked like back in the day and marvel at how time a) flies and b) changes people.

The ’90s — to me, anyway — don’t sound like they were that long ago, but they were. My graduation year was almost 20 years ago. Two decades.

Two.

Decades.

Exactly half my life ago — 18 years, to be exact — I was just starting college. How did 18 years pass so quickly? Better yet, will the next 18 pass at the same speed? Will I wake up one day and remember writing this post, marveling at how I’m suddenly 54?

I printed out my senior photo and had a good chuckle. My hair color back then was courtesy of a grocery store, and I’m pretty sure I used on a daily basis the same amount of hairspray I currently go through in three months. My makeup was also direct from a drugstore aisle and did nothing for me — starting with the fact that the foundation shade I used to use wasn’t exactly the best match for my skin tone.

Appearance aside, I sometimes feel like I’ve made very little progress as a human being who should be contributing and giving back to the world as a whole. That is why we’re here, right? On the other hand, I feel like knowing myself is one of the first things that needs to happen before any sort of big, monumental giving back can occur, and I think that’s been going well in recent years. With distance from the rush of my early 20s, the recklessness in my later 20s and the constant pushing and go-go-going in my early 30s, a bit of perspective has been granted. It’s like the key is turning slowly in the lock, and with each millimeter I’m getting closer to unlocking a door that will reveal a path to the contributions that I’m supposed to make. At least that’s how it feels — I hope my feelings are right and that I’m not sitting here in 18 more years still trying to unlock that door.

The thing about contributions is that they might end up not being realized until the end of a chapter, or the end of one’s book. We might think there was little in our wake to be proud of, but others might see things very differently. I wonder if people who are publicly recognized for significant contributions also feel that they were significant, or if — perhaps — they think they could’ve done more. Do they discount what others see as having been a big deal, or do they embrace it? It sort of begs the bigger question of whether we can truly be happy. If we’re not accomplishing, we might feel we need to start doing exactly that. Or if we are perceived as someone who is out there making things happen, will we brush aside that which we’ve done and keep trying to do more?

There was no guarantee when I graduated from high school that I would live to see this day, nor is there any guarantee that I’ll live to see the year 2031. The only guarantee is from my end, and it’s that I’ll keep trying to give back to this life that I’m blessed to be part of, for however long I have. For time, for our days which are all numbered and for the drive to give more than just a thought to my life, my purpose and what I’ll leave behind, I am thankful.

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