Does anyone remember Taco Bell’s slogan in the mid 90′s? No, I’m not talking about the Chihuahua that said, “Yo Quiero Taco Bell!” I’m talking about the slogan that brought in the new millennium, “Change is good!” Of course, they were speaking of actual change you receive when buying a meal: an 89 cent mystery meat burrito, paying for it with $1, adding MD sales tax, and receiving 5 cents back in change.
For the purpose of this post, I’m speaking of actual change; physically and emotionally. And change is good…I think.
I’ve changed dramatically since high school. I’m a completely different person, for the better (depending on who you ask). To help you understand my process of change, I broke it down to one sentence: I turned and faced the strange. Now, to further help you understand my process of change, here’s a summary:
High School – I entered 9th grade at Great Mills with a chip on my shoulder, as did every other freshman you encountered at a new school. In order to “fit in” at the high school level, there was a certain order to things; a flow of daily attitudes. You had to dress the part, speak the part, and act the part of the majority at your school. You had to blend into your surroundings in order to be accepted amongst your peers. That’s exactly what I did, and this may sound conceited, but I did it well.
Baggy jeans, logotype clothing, Air Force 1′s (they were popular at my high school), playing sports, listening to rap, trying to rap, tall tees, straight brimmed hats with cool designs, cell phones, and to steal from the Latin expression, et cetera. In my eyes, that’s what everyone at Great Mills was wearing. And I knew that if I wanted to hit it off immediately with people in high school, I needed to play the part.
So I did. I did it every year until I graduated. If there was a new CD by Lil’ Wayne, I bought it. Jay-Z? You better believe it! I bought into it and loved it. Everyone around me bought into it, and they loved it. Most of us were just a product of what our school made us, what our friends made us. There was a lucky few that were already individuals, travelling down their own path they paved themselves early on in high school.
I wanted to be like my friends, I wanted to impress them with my clothing and musical taste. I wanted to be accepted because that’s what the movies taught me. And the only way to do that was to act and be like everyone else. It worked for a while, until I graduated and fell off of the earth socially.
Junior College – One of my best friends joined the military almost immediately out of high school. I didn’t have a future planned, so I decided to attend a community college with my then girlfriend, now wife, Melissa. The influences of my friends from high school were gone. Every person I talked to in high school seemed to go their own way after graduating. It was just Melissa and I (it seemed like) in community college. We grew very close during this time because she could tell how much I needed a friend. I felt alienated for a few months, a little lonely on the inside. There I was, this fresh high school graduate with no future planned, once popular and very social, now distant and reserved from anyone and everyone.
College – Mel and I transferred to a university after two years at CSM. I wanted to follow Mel wherever she went. It was at this time, just before transferring to Towson, that I realized I wanted to marry her. So I asked for her hand in marriage, she accepted and I was reassured knowing that I would always have a friend, no matter what happens on the road ahead.
I carried the same socially awkward attitude through Towson. I didn’t want to make friends because I didn’t feel a need to. I had a few friends surrounding me from high school, I was in touch with my best pal, and I was fit with what I had. I continued to steer away from associating with the people I once adored in high school. Why?
In all honesty, I had this selfish opinion that if they wanted to get in touch with me, they would! However, being clouded by my selfishness, I did not allow anyone an access point of contact. Facebook became ever so popular, EVERYONE from high school, the people I loved, had great times with, and absolutely admired were on there. The same people I pushed away for a few years after high school! It was the perfect place for me to keep in touch with everyone, to see how they were doing and to reminisce about all of the great times we had in high school. What a crazy thing to do, boycotting Facebook!
Wedding – After graduating college, the most important day of my life was quickly approaching. The planning process was brutal, especially while Mel and I created the guest list. We got to the friends section of the list and Mel started naming numerous people from high school that she wanted to invite. Name after name popped up and I realized that I haven’t spoken to these people in ages. It amazed me that I didn’t talk to these people. I felt awkward being in my own body, cornered by the thought of me being so anti-social.
I was never anti-social in high school. I talked to everyone and enjoyed it. I enjoyed company. I enjoyed people. Now it seems, or people think I’m the complete opposite. And I play that part, for what reason I have yet to figure out. Maybe it’s because I developed thoughts in my head that were untrue, thoughts that I created to tell myself people from high school just don’t want to talk anymore.
But it was me the entire time. I’m the one who pushed everyone away, not the opposite. It came to fruition on the night of our wedding, when everyone seemed so happy for Melissa and me. We were surrounded by dear friends and it was a magical evening.
Thank you friends. Thank you for caring about Melissa and I. Thank you for still wanting to talk to me after I’ve pushed you away for so long. And, from the bottom of my heart, I am sorry.
I look forward to the days when we can reminisce and discuss how crazy we were and how much we’ve changed since then; you know….Things of that nature.
Until then, I’m proud to share my deepest, most inner thoughts with you. I embraced the change, invited it into my Ferrari life. I took it for a spin around my head, went through the drive-thru, shared a burger with it, brought it back home to meet the family, got mad at it and broke up, ultimately taking it back, and never regretting the day we met.
Change is good!
Regards – RJ