It was the last thing I expected: the paradigm shift that I had last week about my long (and purposely) forgotten past. Those awful, awkward high school years. Did you have them? Fabulous if not! But maybe there was something else that you preferred to put behind you . . . forever? Here’s a quick paradigm shifter for those of us who resented spending so much time at school: “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” – Anonymous

That made me smile. Surely we can find a glimmer of gratitude in any experience. Yet that wasn’t the case for me, for 34 years. I did such a good job of rejecting school that I barely remembered being there, even as we toured the grounds last week, before moving on to party at a nearby wine estate. OMG I love Stellenbosch and its world-class wine!

Put it on your bucket list if you haven’t yet had the pleasure 🙂 Apart from that, we were reminded of something special. Despite our teenage insecurity and being stifled by rules and regulations, we had wonderful friends at school – beautiful girls who grew into gorgeous women – and who we (my twin sister and I) completely lost touch with, until Facebook. Still, it was years before one of our classmates initiated a reunion.

Rhenish Girls High - photographed by Naomi Estment

Making New Memories

Now we’re so grateful. Thursday evening entirely reframed our high school memories, replacing resistance and apprehension with sincere warmth and appreciation for that period of our lives. Nevertheless, I still don’t regret not keeping any photos from that time. The reason is that I had such a poor relationship with myself, my looks and the camera, due in large part to my severe squint, which was masked for years by ugly glasses.

A note about that, with special thanks to my fellow B-Schooler, Rebecca, for her thought-provoking comment on my last post: my squint is invisible most of the time now because I wear contact lenses that correct it and I have learnt to control it somewhat since being an adult. As she points out, my hang-up about it no doubt stemmed from deeper insecurities and could just as easily have been focused on something else. Can you relate?

Fears or Dreams

American essayist Norman Cousins wrote that “People are never more insecure than when they become obsessed with their fears at the expense of their dreams.

Let’s rather make friends with ourselves and our past, in order to love being alive and be free to share the best of who we are and what we offer, not to mention fulfil our dreams. It was a pleasure to share my gifts by photographing this reunion for our friends. If you’re interested, here is a link to my Facebook album: Rhenish Reunion – Class of ’83.

How about you? What are your gifts and how do you share them, or does some past or present fear perhaps hold you back? Please leave a comment to let me know.