Going to your 10th college reunion is a thing, for sure. Milestones are "supposed" to have happened. And it's sort of a way to "check in" with people you knew, people you loved, people you hated.
But for me, as you can imagine, it's all of that plus a way to check in with myself.
2007 Justin was a lot of things. Angry, lonely, confused. But most of all, he was scared.
He knew that trying to become a consultant without the drive and/or natural skill for it would be a disaster so he decided to avoid that. And he'd spend most of a decade trying to find a mix of lucrative and fulfilling that only privileged people can search for.
But he was so scared. He was scared that, with many of his friends being from later years on campus, he'd be forgotten.
He was scared that he'd never make friends as an adult (it's hard!).
He was scared he'd never meet someone who wanted to spend their life with him.
He was so scared he never even really thought far into the future because too many unpleasant things could have occurred that far off.
When I walked through the gates in early June of 2007, I was underwhelmed. It had all led to a commencement where we tried to dodge raindrops. And then I had a diploma and it was over. I did a lot of silly poses like I always did, but it's so obvious to me how much of my persona from college was a put on that I can't believe more people didn't see it at the time.
I've talked about my Captain Blastin alter ego before. He came out to try and defend me and make me more confident. And I needed him back then, just to avoid curling into a ball and giving up.
He wouldn't have believed that I'd be at my best when I was concise and understated. He only knew bombast. But it wasn't his fault. The adult Justin who teaches at a high level simply didn't exist yet.
The Stifler-like alter ego I had wasn't always nice to people. And I've long been worried that that was my most accurate self. But I realize now I was trying to play a role I thought others wanted me to play. And it took Terrace, and friends, and years and years of time, to realize it was okay to take a breath and be the person people actually respect these days.
I get mad thinking about how people didn't treat me very well socially a decade ago. And some of it was entirely not my fault. But I realize now, had I had the strength to be who I am now, a lot more folks would have warmed to me in college, the way more of my classmates speak to me now than they ever did.
It's all very weird, and emotional for me. My life is great and I sort of feel weird that it's great, because everything told me that it wasn't going to be this way ten years ago.
It's been a long time. I want to continue to grow in the next decade the way that I have in the previous one. And I hope to keep coming back and showing that the person I was too scared to be in 2007 is the person I really am now.