25 years ago, almost to the day, I drove east from Carleton College. I remember stopping on a back road in farm country somewhere in Minnesota or Wisconsin and taking a picture of a road sign that said: "Caution, rough roads ahead."
Today my sweetie and I are heading east through South Dakota. We are listening to the Spotify mix I pulled together of songs from the period 1990-1994. I am sitting in the passenger seat, using my smart phone as a hot spot so I can write this.
My 21 year old self is reminding me that I didn't even have a cell phone until the mid to late 90s, and I didn't know the power of google maps was until I lived in Denver in the new millennium: "good food near me in Rapid City" led us to a very hip coal fired pizza oven in Rapid City last night.
I'm feeling a big messy mix of excitement and nerves - this is the first time I'm going back. I've been participating in the Class of 1994 Facebook group, and struck by how anxious people are feeling about seeing classmates from so long ago.
I know I am, a bit, in addition to the anticipation and excitement. What is so hard about acknowledging the passage of time, and celebrating our successes and our messes? I'm remembering painful ends to some of the first deep friendships of my young life, remembering unfulfilled ambitions and aspirations, and I think tapping in to how I was as my younger self.
Fortunately I'm not alone. People are already thinking about how they want to show up as their 40-something year old selves and it's awesome.
What does this have to do with my work? Vulnerability is a key quality of effective leaders. If Brene Brown says it, it must be so!