There is an old saying, which I love– you need to give a child roots and wings. The roots will keep him/her grounded, but they need wings to fly. This past weekend, I was able to return to Andover, which holds a very special place in my heart. 25 years ago, I was given the opportunity to attend this elite boarding school in New England, thanks to a scholarship, which changed my life forever.
Funny thing is that my best friend, whom I met on my very first day as we both settled into our dorm together, was actually a legacy child, very much acclamated to the New England culture that I found so foreign. Among the many ironies in this friendship that has spanned over half my lifetime, is the fact that at first, she was quite homesick and really just wanted to go home. I could not comprehend this logic at all– to me, it seemed like we were in paradise. This beautiful, safe campus, which tried to promote a completley egalitarian society, rewarded us based on talent and merit, regardless of where we came from, and it was instilled into us early on that our gifts were meant to be shared.
We were taught that with the gift of knowledge came the responsiblity of helping others, and the importance of doing something you loved, pursuing a career that made you happy, regardless of money, was drilled into me at a very early age during these formative years. At the time of course, I had no idea the impact this would have on me, but now as I look at the choices I have made in my life, I can see exactly how my boarding school years made me who I am today.
Not many can comprehend the boarding school experience, which is actually why the friendships formed at Andover are so special. Those years had a profound impact on all of us, and I am so glad I went back this year, right before I hit a milestone birthday. Seeing my dear friend, and being able to share some of our memories, in addition to catching up about the present and talking about our goals for the future, was exactly what I needed to regain some perspective.
As my dad said, sometimes we get so caught up with things, we cannot see what those around us are able to see. I may not see my friend very often, but she is one of my star rocks that grounds me. To witness our transformations from teenagers, to young professional women, to getting married and becoming mothers, and to now be able to help each other as we struggle with work-life balance while we both manage our own companies is truly a special gift. No one could ever have predicted how much we would mean to each other when our paths first crossed as we moved into Abbey House back in 1987.
Despite the sad fact that our dorm no longer exists, and most of Abbot’s campus has been completely revamped, returning to my roots was a cathartic experience beyond words, and I encourage everyone that has been through a life-altering event or is about to face a milestone birthday (in my case it was both) to return to your roots and let those buried memories surface. You will then appreciate all the more the wings you were given and the flight you were able to enjoy on your journey of life.