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163. 20 years after high school: 20 things that turned out differently than expected

I’m sitting in the 600S bus, looking out the window at the road, as it takes me from Hillerød to Roskilde. I’ve taken this bus many times. It used to take me back home after weekend visits to my father, back when I was a child. Now it takes me to my high school graduation 20th anniversary party. I’m not even sure of the wording, but you get the drift.

Young people enter the bus along the route. People who look like they’re in high school. I don’t, and I haven’t for many years.

It feels strange. I can’t understand that it’s twenty years ago. I don’t often get hit by weird thoughts on time, but this one punched me right in the gut.

But with that strangeness comes reflection, as it always does. Looking back, what did I think life would look like? What is as expected, and what definitely isn’t? What are twenty random things that come to mind on this bus trip?

  1. I never got that Master’s Degree. I thought I would – saw it as a certainty – and here I sit, without even a BA to my name.
  2. I’m married. I didn’t think I’d be. Not that I thought I’d be single, but the institution of marriage didn’t appeal to me.
  3. It’s an open marriage. Back then, I didn’t think one night stands had any merit to them. I thought love was for just one person.
  4. I didn’t become a high school teacher. That was my dream. That was my plan. Done at university at 26, and then hired. Nope.
  5. I became an entrepreneur. An old friend of mine once talked about entrepreneurial spirit. I didn’t think I had that. I was wrong.
  6. I’m a professional larper. I never saw that happening. Never even dreamed of it, at that time. Now it feels natural.
  7. I am the CEO of an international company. Didn’t see that one coming, that’s for sure! I was sure I’d work for someone.
  8. Only one child. And that’s a recent and surprising development. I was sure I’d have several. Now even Saga was unexpected.
  9. 28 books bear my name on the cover. I never knew I’d write books. I certainly didn’t know I’d write so many of them.
  10. I’m a workaholic. When I was 19, I worked four hours per week, stocking books at a library. I didn’t get how people could work full time. Now I do.
  11. I don’t feel like a grown-up. I thought that would kick in at some point. It hasn’t yet. I don’t really think it does for most of us.
  12. I’ve been a reality TV star. Twice. I’ve even been legitimately famous in Denmark. That’s a strange experience, but I’m glad I had it.
  13. I’ve grown more extreme. I thought I’d get softer with time and conform more. Instead, it’s gone the other way.
  14. I have been around. 19 year old Claus would be shocked to his core. 38 year old Claus doesn’t think it’s a big deal.
  15. I’ve grown chubby. Not truly fat, but solid in a way the 70 kg version of myself didn’t see coming. I was slim in high school.
  16. I’ve started drinking. I was sober until half a year after high school. Then that changed. Changed quite a lot, actually.
  17. I’ve never lived abroad. I had an idea that I would, someday. It hasn’t happened yet, though I have travelled quite a bit.
  18. I forgot about my ears. In high school, my dumbo ears plagued me. As an adult, I rarely remember that I have them.
  19. I haven’t owned a house. Was sure I’d live in one. Now, I don’t think that I ever will. But I’ve been wrong before…
  20. I never thought it would feel both so long ago and so recent at the same time. It’s a bizarre duality that can’t seem to shake.

Maybe this evening’s party will do it for me.

Director at The College of Extraordinary Experiences, Coach at McKinsey & Founding Partner at The Global Institute For Thought Leadership. Author of 31 books.

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