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Don’t Stop Believing!!

Updated: Jan 11

One of my favorite songs as a teenager was "Don't Stop Believing" by, Journey. Every time it came on the radio I couldn't help but sing along. Even recently I have been known to unabashedly belt it out in the car while listening to the classic rock station, because you can take the girl out of the 80's, but you can't take the 80's rocker out of the girl. On a side note - it still seems impossible to me that MY music is now considered “classic," but that is a whole other post.

Why did this song resonate so much with my generation, and those that came after? I think it's because it offers a message of hope and encouragement that is so desperately needed in the world today. Let's face it...things don't always go the way we plan. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say that MOST things don't go quite the way we plan. We get B's instead of A's, don't make the basketball team, have relationship break ups, our kids talk back, our home, car and job are only average...almost daily there are reminders to us that we are fully human and capable of mistakes and failures. Some of them rather epic failures actually. This is all a very normal and universal phenomenon. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, has felt at times that their lives (or even themselves as people) somehow don't measure others, or to the ideals we had in our youthful imaginations.

Our circumstances are not really the problem. Most of the time we are resilient enough to push through a disappointment without lasting damage. Pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and move on. Where we get into trouble though is when we take those very typical events and setbacks, and mentally start convincing ourselves that something is horribly wrong with our lives...or simply just with US. We forgot that everyone else isn't perfect either, and begin to compare the limited view we have of other people, putting their best foot forward publicly, with the magnified and critical view we have of ourselves. We know all of our own flaws rather intimately, and we may start to believe deep inside of our psyches that we are not as good as everyone else, or as smart or as pretty or...or...or...even that we are somehow cursed and the universe has it out for us. We wallow in the fear that because some things didn't go perfectly, that nothing will ever go our way again. This can become such a blinding, destructive philosophy that it can render us unable to see clearly how many things are also going RIGHT. I’ve never fully understood why, but negative emotions and mindsets often seem to be an easy and dominant default way of thinking.

My 30 year high school reunion is this month. In preparation for that there has been a Facebook page promoting the event where people have been sharing photos and stories from the “good old days." It’s been really fun...well...other than the huge elephant in the room. Not everyone was really sure they wanted to go and see people they hadn’t seen in 30 years. Why? Not so much because of old cliques and rivalries or hurts. We’re big kids now, and have grown past that kind of stuff. At least I would hope so? The main reason for the reticence many felt though was more personal in nature. 30 years is a long time, and time often takes its toll. Many of us have gained weight and/or lost our hair. We have wrinkles now. Yikes!!! And life has dealt us some tough blows. Many have been through serious illnesses, divorces and other tragedies or losses. Some have not achieved much worldly success in terms of finances or accolades, or don’t have the family situation they once thought they would. Sometimes this has been by choice, but often not.  Basically it can just be a little jarring to confront the image of the kids we were last time we saw each other...the plans we once made and the dreams we had that never came true. Even if you are overall happy in your life now, it still can bring up some insecurities to wonder what other people might expect to see and hear from you vs. the reality of who you actually are. Those old high school friends knew who you used to be, and who you thought you might become, but they don’t really know you now. Will they like you as you are today you wonder? So many were internally wrestling with this conflict until a little miracle happened, and one person bravely broached the topic. He very openly and honestly expressed these kinds of thoughts and his personal insecurities, and invited others to do the same. What happened next was truly amazing. One by one posts started to appear, brutally honest and vulnerable. People I never would have expected to, admitted that they also had those feelings. People have shared both past pains and present ones. Highs and lows. Good and bad in a genuine and unpretentious way. The comments from their former classmates have been overflowing with friendship and support, and a ton of people bought tickets that otherwise might not have. It got real...really real...and guess what? It wasn’t so scary after all. There was love on the other side of the fear. I am so sad that I am personally not going to be able to attend the reunion this year due to distance and other commitments, but my respect for my classmates has increased a thousand fold. I always knew they were special, wonderful people. But now I feel like I really know THEM - beyond the usual surface and whitewashed Facebook posts. Far from judging them, I actually want to know them all even better than before, and I am looking forward to hearing all of the post reunion stories.

What does all this have to do with Journey? First of all I am immediately 17 again whenever I hear their music. But also, they sent us a message that reaches through time to keep speaking to us even now  - Don’t Stop Believing. Don’t ever, ever, ever stop. No matter what hardships and disappointments litter our lives, there is always much to look forward to and be grateful for. You are never too old to keep reaching for dreams and reinventing yourself. You can fall on your face and not reach the stars, and the world will not end that day. Just keep on trying and being true to yourself, and start over as often as it takes. Everyone else is scared too. We are not alone. We can help each other and we should. Don’t stop believing in beauty and love. Don’t stop believing in goodness and generosity. In friendship and faith. Don’t stop believing in strength and second chances. Go ahead - play a little air guitar and sing it out still know all the words. It doesn’t matter if you are off key or others might hear. They want to sing too, but might be too embarrassed unless they hear your voice.

Most of all...don’t stop believing in yourself. Ever. You are fantastic. Just as you are. Much love to the class of 1986.

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