Do you get sweaty palms when that day arrives every 10 years or so? You hold the announcement of your high school reunion in your hands and visions of teenager doom flash before your eyes? Is the first impulse to toss it into the trash or put it aside to think about it later? Are you getting palpitations thinking about having to lose those extra pounds before even thinking about responding? Do you start thinking about how unpopular, too shy or inept you felt?
For most of us, high school wasn’t about learning algebra or doing homework, it was figuring out who we were, if we could fit in or just find someone to hang out with. It was more about polishing social skills and less about pursuing intellectual prowess. We probably just wanted to be “popular,” wear the right clothes or feel competent at anything.
The beauty of attending a high school reunion is that most of us are stunned to find out that all those fears and anxieties, sometimes still prevalent 10, 20, even 30 years later, were just that, teenage angst that existed mainly in our minds. But for many, we don’t learn this until we actually attend a reunion and discover that most people just want to share stories and laugh about those crazy days.
In fact, the more reunions we attend, the more ridiculous those concerns become. While you may think that cute girl in math class you thought never knew you existed not only knew who you were, but wondered why you never talked to her. Or, how about that high school athlete, valedictorian or cheerleader you would have liked to have known, but were too shy to say anything to? You’ll very likely learn that, for the most part, maturity takes over and turns us into interesting and thoughtful people.
Of course, there are the exceptions (some people never change) or the nay-sayers who fervently profess not ever to attend a high school reunion for any number of reasons. Unfortunately, it is a major loss because they miss out on an important life passage, a milestone that clearly defines who we are and what we have become.
At reunions, no one cares if you gained weight, lost your hair, and are currently single or unemployed. They see you as you were then, and conversations generally focus on those carefree days, just before we embarked upon adulthood. You are no longer Ed, Lisa, Lou or Barbara; you’re back to Eddie, Cissy, Louie and Babszy. A gleeful option to step back in time of pre-adulthood, but without the social pressures.
Please, when you get that invitation, email or phone call about your high school reunion every so many decades, don’t hesitate, make that commitment and start calling those alumni you still keep in touch with and encourage them to attend with you. Why not make the effort to spend an evening or weekend with people you haven’t seen in a long time and may not see until the next reunion. You will be brought back to when gabbing with girlfriends on the lawn or playing ball on the field was the most important thing in your life, you know, before you had to grow up, and really get old.