For awhile, whenever I thought of alumni events, the following would pop into my mind:
People coming to an event, decked out in their finest regalia, bringing their latest business cards with thirteen word titles. I imagined the alumni events for people who have been out of school for longer than I, for which guys would doll up their wives just to have something nicer looking on their arm when they arrived. “So what are you doing with your life?” I imagined it to be a big show down of who has become whom, and what has been accomplished since. Either that or a boring event where just the “losers” showed up.
Well, I’ve been forced to face the fact that that visualization is, by far, totally a reflection of me and my own insecurities rather than an accurate assessment of alumni events in general. I am twenty-four years old, and I have no concrete answer to the question “What do you want to do with your life?” That question is currently the bane of my existence and man oh man is an alumni event the best place to get practice reciting your answer to that question.
That’s my little intro story. In this post I’m not going to address that question or the nature of the dilemma it creates for “undecided” people. Instead, I just want to point out a good reason to attend alumni events, family gathering, or any form of reconnecting with your “roots” or past.
It has nothing to do with other people, actually. Reconnecting with people with whom you used to share a bond provides a great opportunity to evaluate your personal growth. When you see this person, you are reminded of the way you used to talk, the jokes you used to make, and the things you used to dream about. What has changed within you? Do you still desire the same things? If you’ve given up on a dream, how do you reconcile it? Have your values changed? It’s a great way to superimpose a benchmark next to your thoughts: then and now.
I included “roots,” to include places your parents came from or perhaps places you grew up in and moved out of before you started forming memories. Even though you may not have memories or relationships from this setting, benchmarks can still be found which can be used for self-evaluation.
For example, I spent seven months in Trinidad recently. My mother is from there. I was born in the USA. Whether or not I have grown up with Trini traditions, or have even visited the country, going back there still would have provided the self-evaluation benefit. People who leave Trinidad to come to America tend to want security (the crime there is saddening), opportunity, and cheap electronics. In New York City, the dream is owning a hedge fund, a home in Connecticut, and not being able to sleep at night. Okay that’s even more of a joke, but what I’m saying is that most of us here in America are one or two generations away from people who left their nations of birth for simple but meaningful things (such as security, opportunity, and cheap electronics). If we lose sight of that, it’s easy to get lost in wanting excessive material luxuries, prestige, and other things over and above what our families originally came here for. Is wanting these things bad? No-I’m not saying that. I’m saying going back to see your roots is like a tool that allows you to see some assumptions you might be making, to question whether you need to go above and beyond what your lineage had originally moved for (this is the self-evaluation tool I was referring to). That decision is yours to make though! It’s just nice to be aware of your options.
Have you changed? Has your thinking changed? If so, how has it changed? The same way tracking your progress in the gym is essential to continual fitness improvement, considering these questions is very valuable for one who is interested in his or her personal development. Maybe you’ve gotten off track, or maybe you’ve will be happy with the choices you’ve made. Think about it. Let us make room for our own improvement and simultaneously kick out any reasons or insecurities we have that might interfere with us returning to our past. I invite you to attend your next alumni event, old friends get together, and especially to consider spending some time connecting with your roots if you haven’t already done so. I will!