This weekend, the Wilton High School Class of 1993 will be gathering for its 20th Reunion. I won’t be able to make it because of work obligations, but it is worth a brief time of reflection.
In many respects 20 years has flown by — and yet for all of us, a lifetime has taken place between then and now.
But what really strikes me today is how formative high school is.
I had a great high school experience. When I was in high school, I was intellectually inquisitive, involved with lots of activities (Debate Team, newspaper, yearbook, theater, working at the VM, underground newspaper, student council, etc… yes, I was kind of a dork). I had good friends, great teachers and overall a great experience. Not to say their weren’t hard moments (or years… sophomore year kind of sucked). But overall, I am thankful for my high school experience.
In terms of skills, it is amazing how much I learned in high school that is actually helpful today… public speaking, graphic design, critical thinking, writing, etc. And then some skills that are no useless: how to use a card catalog in a library, etc.
Upon reflection though, there were two defining experiences: becoming a follower of Jesus and wrestling with my identity and sexuality. And, of course, these have been dominant themes in my life for the past 20 years. But they both started (kind of) in high school.
If nothing else, it is a reminder of how important the high school years are. When I was a full time youth pastor and Young Life staffer, I loved working with high school students for this very reason… in high school, we make huge life decisions about our values, beliefs, relationships, etc. In fact, we are making key decisions about the 3 M’s: master, mate, mission.
MASTER… who or what will we worship or give our “best of” to…
MATE… who will we love and “do life” with…
MISSION… what will we give our lives to… what is our greater purpose.
For me, I made definitive decisions about MASTER and MISSION in high school… and they have stuck through high and low, career changes, crisis, scandals and more. MATE? Still figuring that one out, but high school was when I began to wrestle privately with what it meant to be gay. Back then, I knew no one who was out in my high school, there was no GSA, no Glee on TV, no models to follow. It was confusing, hard… I won’t go into all the details here (I have written about them elsewhere), but I struggled the way many LGBT youth — and many teens in general — do in high school. And that included dealing with depression, drinking, suicidal thoughts, occasionally getting bullied, occasionally being the bully, etc etc. But these were totally formative years… and it did indeed, get better.
Twenty years later… I am thankful for who I have become and the role that my high school friends, teachers and community played in forming who I am today. And I am thankful for the decisions I made in terms of MASTER and MISSION… (and looking forward to figuring out the MATE one… perhaps before my 25th HS reunions… )
Happy 20th Class of;93 Warriors!