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  • Writer's pictureJudith Ostronic

Prom Dresses

I was feeling sentimental last week as friends on a group text were sending around photos from our high school prom in 1987.

 

There I was, a smile full of stainless steel, hair tied back in a satin bow, and donning a strapless, pink and white, onetime-bridesmaid dress my sister had let me borrow.

 

My mother had advised against that particular dress, but I was set on it, for better or for worse.

 

Like teenagers then and now, my friends and I had strong opinions about what was acceptable fashion, however misguided my own might have been. Seeing these photos now, through my middle-aged lens, I can't help thinking we look adorable. Whether that's despite or because of our fashion choices, I can't be sure.

 

With 37 years of time and space to separate us, it got me thinking what I might say to my 16-year old self. So much has transpired, what does she need to know?

 

A few weeks back, my husband I were visiting family in Australia and toured a lighthouse on the Southern coast of Victoria at Cape Otway, known as Shipwreck Coast. In 1881 the lighthouse began using ruby colored glass in a lower window to alert sea captains their ship was in danger.

 

That's because there's a reef stretching over 4 kilometers from the shoreline, which over the years had torn more than a few boats to shreds. The message to the captain was clear, “If you are seeing this red light, you have sailed too close.”

 

A light went off as I read that, but this one in my head. What's my ruby colored glass?

 

In other words, How do you know when it's time to take a step back, and what happens when you do? Are you open to reassessing, and maybe changing course?

 

Is it possible when you're in pursuit of something – either personal or professional -- you lose sight of the bigger picture the closer you get?  Have you lost sight of why you set out to do it in the first place?

 

As your coach, it's my job to remind you when it might be a good time to step back and get a better look at the full picture. I can help you see how far you've come, and point out barriers that perhaps are invisible to you, but could stop you from getting to shore.

 

Looking at pictures of 16-year-old me, it's easy to see what I didn't know then. And it reminded me of all I have seen and done in the years since, like little breadcrumbs mapping a course to where I am now. I could never have predicted much (most?) of it, but reflecting on it now, the place I have landed makes sense. Lucky me.

 

Thankfully, my 16-year-old self was blissfully unaware that her prom dress was ugly. Nobody tell her, please, she doesn't need to know. What she might need to know is that her own personal style will eventually reveal itself, not only in fashion, but everything else too. And those friends, they'll still be around after 37 years. Lucky her.  

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