I Never Fit the Palo Alto "Mold!"

My time in high school

Attended high school in the

Overall high school experience
3/10. I felt so much pressure at [high school name omitted]. I never felt smart enough. I never felt like my gifts and talents were "enough." I felt tremendous social pressure as well and even though from the outside it looked like I had lots of friends, I always felt like I was an outcast. I always felt lonely and misunderstood. High school was actually a really low point in my life.

Grades in high school
A's and B's. I would say it was a wider spread than that. I got mostly A's in subjects that I liked and felt strong in, and often C's in other areas. There was so much pressure to be at the top of your game, and if you didn't get into the Honor's level courses, it almost felt like it didn't matter what you did in the "regular" classes. "Regular" at [high school name omitted] felt like it meant "remedial."


Best subjects
English, History / Social Studies, Foreign Language, Performing Arts, Visual Arts

Struggled with...
I struggled with math and science. At [high school name omitted] in the 1990's (and I am sure it is this way still) that was just not ok.

Favorite extracurricular
Government / Civic (e.g. Mock UN)

Life since high school

[In high school] I never felt smart enough. I never felt like my gifts and talents were “enough.” I felt tremendous social pressure as well and even though from the outside it looked like I had lots of friends, I always felt like I was an outcast. I always felt lonely and misunderstood. High school was actually a really low point in my life.

Attended college / university at
I had a windy road in terms of higher education. I left [high school name omitted] feeling like I was stupid. I didn't feel like I could succeed in Academia that way that my peers would. I felt pretty defeated. I went to college my first year in Oregon. I found that my self-image was stuck in the idea that I was not "book-smart" and gave up pretty easily. I left college after one year. Over the course of my 20's I went in and out of colleges. Spent time in some pretty fantastic programs around leadership, social justice, politics. I travelled the world and made art and music. I wrote and self-published. I put out albums. I lived in the woods. I lived in big cities. I wouldn't trade any of it for getting my degree sooner! 

Majored in
I eventually finished my BA with focus in Ecology, Psychology and Political Theory.

Post-graduate education or training
I have done years of continuing education and certificate programs. I am currently finishing a Master of Science.

Places lived in US
California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington

Places lived outside the US
Spent a year living in Ireland. And traveled extensively in Western Europe.

Current occupations / past occupations
Artist, musician, teacher, ceremony officiant, writer, activist, therapist, parent.

Industries I've worked in
- Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting
- Information (e.g. Publishing, Film, Broadcast, Telecommunications, Libraries)
- Educational Services
- Health Care and Social Assistance
- Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
- Accommodation and Food Services
- Nonprofit

Did your education prepare you for your career or occupation?
Not my high school education, with the exception of theatre and choir. I think that in those departments we were given the space to build relationships, resolve conflicts, and use our critical thinking skills rather than just memorize facts and try to pass tests. My education post-high school has been eclectic and spread across a wide array of disciplines and teaching methods. This education has been, by far, the most important aspect of my development.

Has your education or career/occupation trajectory ever changed? How?
Yes. Many times. And with every fork in the road I have had an opportunity to grow and change and assess my own values and goals. I am so grateful this has been the case.

A little introspection...

To me, being successful means...
Feeling inspired and surrounded by love and support. If I can lay down at the end of every day and know that I am following my heart, however hard the journey, then my life is a success.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
Growing up, in Palo Alto, especially, I really thought that the only positive or desired future was one with wealth, and even some amount of fame. I didn't see another option for happiness.

My greatest accomplishment to date and what I’ve learned from it
My greatest accomplishment is that I have followed the most un-linear path in these years since high-school graduation, and am happy to say that life only gets better and more fulfilling with every year. 

My biggest mistake or regret so far and what I’ve learned from it
Honestly, my biggest regret is that I spent so many years looking for outside approval or recognition. That I really defined myself by the values and goals of something outside of my own heart. It was really really hard to shake that off coming from [high school name omitted], and Palo Alto. I really had deep fears of ending up as a "nothing." What does that even mean?! What I learned was that the fear of "nothing" has absolutely zero to do with money or status or fame, and everything to do with how you are loved and who loves you back. It also has everything to do with they ways that you spend each moment of your one, precious life. My life is SO FULL of adventure, and friends, and art, and music, and good food, and travel, and laughter, and challenging, inspiring work. I regret wasting any time on other people's measures of success.

An unexpected event that changed my life and how it impacted me
The best, most unexpected thing that happened to me was when my husband left me. No joke. At the time I would not have said anything positive about it! But looking back, I am so incredibly grateful that this is the path that has unfolded before me. I was forced to examine my life and the way I was living it, and decide if I wanted to be a victim, or to take the reins, so to speak. I had spent so many years with my head buried in the sand, not really even knowing what my own impact on my happiness was. That rupture in the status quo was such a gift that I am proud to say I didn't turn my back from. Even when it was awful and painful, I remained accountable to my own growth. The impact of facing that situation in such a way is that my life is now more clearly what I want it to be than ever before. I have an incredible friendship and co-parenting relationship with my ex. And I am finishing up yet another degree and moving into a new phase of my career that I am so excited about. This is not the path I would have chosen, but the path that came to me and that I embraced and found greater happiness than I even dreamed.

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