My 10 year high school reunion is coming up this fall. The Facebook group invitation for the reunion nearly sent me into hysterics, but that subject requires a whole nother posting. So naturally, the Facebook group created by former high school colleagues began to grow in membership just hours after it was started. Before I knew it, hundreds of classmates from dear old Union High, most whom I haven't seen graduation, begin to post and reflect on our dear years as fighting farmers. And soon thereafter, the historic embarrassing photos began to pour in.
And BOOM. There it was. An inevitable picture of me from senior year of high school. I took a breathe, giggled nervously even before finally clicking on the photo. And a moment of relief. I exhaled. Coincidentally, not much has changed since 2005 as far as my physical being. Thankfully, unlike some of my other high school classmates I've maintained my medium average build. I haven't grown much, slimmed down just a smidgen, my hairline has receded a little bit but otherwise i'm still the same ole smiling, sunny dispositioned Daryl.
I began to think about 2005. It was a good year. Candyshop by Fifty cent was really a big hit. Rich Girls by Gwen Stefani was the summer jam. I had just been nominated for a Papermill Rising Star Award for my work in our high school's production of Disney’s Aida. It was a good year.
I glanced at the picture again. And then my smile. And i reflected. I remember my thinking being so one-dimensional. I had no concept of life's trajectory. I was nestled in privilege and grace without a clue- as all seventeen years olds should be. I had planned to attend drama school, start a relationship, move to LA, get married, become a working actor and live somewhere between the corners of happily n' ever after. Then my grandma passed, then my great grandmother, then my cousin, several cousins, and my Dad. Then i was unemployed, then i failed a course or two, then i transferred, then went on quest of self acceptance. All in a matter of a few years. And then I had to get a full time job to pay for school, and my relationships began to suffer, my friends began to swamp themselves out of my life. Of course, it wasn't all bad, I had a budding career, a healthy academic life and supportive family but It certainly wasn't the game plan I had neatly laid out with Kenny, Jaquan, Kyle and Romainson (my high school buds).
Through the years of life experience, I have learned that purpose driven lives are more about acceptance & understanding than goal setting and cockeyed optimism. I had to learn to accept the things i could not change, change the things I could and quickly be able to decipher the difference. Having purpose in your life, sometimes means taking the long, messy, less privileged path. The path less traveled. Sometimes it means big sacrifices, and cutting off dead weight, and investing in self preservation.
So what really has changed since the year I smiled for that photo in 2005? I'm still the same old Daryl. The smiley, sunny dispositioned boy with dreams of having my name in lights. I still audition. I still get lost in books on philosophy and the arts. I still talk loud and with a slight jersey/carolina accent. I have accomplished some tremendously monumental goals but most importantly-I have learned to accept the assignment. To know that, life is not linear and that wherever life takes me is where it needed to go. For life's sake, for journey's sake, for lessons sake, for my sake, for God's glory.
I have learned that my gifts, my accomplishments, my pit stops and setbacks are all apart of God's plan for my life. I've learned to accept my assignment. The good, the bad, the burly, the indifferent. I've learned to accept me. Ive learned to overcome. Ive learned to accept life assignments.