Recently I interviewed a high school student who is applying to my alma mater. I have been an alumni volunteer for a few years now, and they get younger every year.
More likely I’m getting older.
It’s easy to forget what it was like be a certain age. It is in reading what I wrote at the time that I am brought back. A year or so ago, I read something I wrote in high school and was surprised to find that I was more insightful than I remembered. I talked about what I expected from college and what I wanted in the future. I may have been discussing things abstractly, since I hadn’t yet experienced what I was projecting, but what I wanted was on the ball with how things turned out. It’s as if I knew and didn’t know what I was talking about at the same time.
When I was in high school, I could not have envisioned how big the world was. And at the same time how accessible it was. Having a friend who was three years older, much less fifteen, seemed like a huge gap. Getting on a plane by myself hadn’t happened yet. If one day the friends I ate lunch with were absent, eating alone or joining people I didn’t usually eat with was unfathomable. My group of friends was nice but also a product of going to a small school. Selection was limited, and once you found a group, you didn’t move around too much. Applying to colleges was a huge deal, and every class you chose or didn’t choose seemed like it could make or break your future because of how it would affect your GPA and ranking.
I enjoy speaking with prospective candidates to my college. It’s interesting to hear about what they’re looking for, how they feel about leaving their family and friends, and how they spend their time. It also tickles me to be called “Ms. ___” by some of them.
The tables outside the café where I conducted my most recent interview had cheery little centerpieces. I thought this budding cactus in an orange watering can was out of the ordinary.