I had dinner tonight with my friend Gretchen. Her and her husband Ken were both freshman at Ashland when I was a senior. I haven't done a good job keeping in touch with them, even though they live in the next town, but an idea for a video project I'm working on made me think of her.
Gretchen worked in TV as a reporter, and just as I did with radio, started working in the "real world" before graduating. I knew from the day I met her that she had a bright future, because she was just so naturally good at what she did. Of course, she also knew that the rat race sucked, and that the high-stress/low-pay environment wasn't good for the soul. Eventually she dropped out of it and pursued an academic career. Ken got into various administrative sports positions after school too, and is a high school A.D. now.
What I respect about them is that they had pretty good plans, were well positioned to be "successful" in their field, but both made the decision after awhile to try something else. I can identify with this because I went through the same thing, instead of allowing myself to get beat up doing something that wasn't fun anymore. They too have found a balance when it comes to career, happiness and income.
The strangest irony is that Gretchen is back teaching at Ashland, wrapping up her PhD at Kent. She too saw how the R/TV department had turned into little more than a shitty trade school when we were there, and she has the right head on her shoulders to hopefully influence it into the place it should be. For the first time since I graduated, I feel like the place is headed in the right direction.
We were talking tonight about how strange it was that very little turned out the way we expected. She was dating someone else from R/TV when she graduated, and expected they'd get married and make beautiful TV together. I remember even thinking at their wedding about how odd it was that all of a sudden she was marrying Ken instead. And after many hard decisions, both eventually went on to do other things in their career.
And you know what? Despite the "plan" essentially being null and void, they're two of the most well-adjusted people I know. I envy them for figuring it out faster than I did, that's for sure.
So in addition to doing a video project together, we also talked about how cool it would be to do an alumni radio reunion. I gotta tell you, I get all tingly at the idea of Jeff Jones returning to air a decade after getting out of that retched business and tearing it up.
Anyway, I love hearing about her story, and by extension appreciate my own that much more. We've done so much in the course of a decade, and it's totally OK that the bullshit they fed us in high school about careers and such was in fact a steaming pile of crap. Our experiences have frankly been far more exciting anyway!