Sunday, July 11, 2010

Looking Back, Looking Forward: High School Reunions

A few months ago I wrote about how I'd gotten myself  involved in the planning of my high school reunion.  In the post I talked about wrinkles and weight and face creams and I touched on my insecurities.  I vowed to get to the gym and lose some weight.  I didn't lose much, the reunion is two weeks away and I find that my outlook has changed quite a bit.  It's not so much about how I look anymore, but more about all I missed.

When I wrote that post, I had no idea the kind of flashback it would trigger.  To say I was insecure during my teen years would be an understatement.  I had a small group of friends, didn't go out much and participated in very few activities.  Granted, my friends are great people and we had some fun times, but I was always guarded and I didn't take any risks.  I didn't get involved in many aspects of high school because I was afraid of being rejected.  Parties, I didn't go.  Talk to the 'popular' girls?  Why would they want to be friends with me?  Flirt with the boy I'd had a crush on forever?  Never.  I could go into why I felt this way, frankly it had a lot to do with how I grew up, but the bottom line was, I had no faith in myself; I was afraid.  I felt invisible and life went on around me.

Jump forward thirty years.  I carry more than the twenty extra pounds I had in high school, but I have a lot to be proud of...I have a wonderful family and a fulfilling career, for starters.  You see, when I went to college I reinvented myself.  I explored my talents, found my place in space, took risks, and was burned on more than one occasion.  In other words, I grew up.  Yet when the reunion planning picked up speed, and I thought about how invisible I felt in high school, all my old insecurities flooded back.  I kept thinking that I should forget about being a part of the planning and fade back into the woodwork.  Outside my small circle, very few people even remembered me, right?  Wrong.

I love learning new things, but I'm even happier when I learn more about myself.  Because I've gotten involved in this event, I've discovered something...I could have felt much more connected to my high school years if I'd let more people get to know me.  If I'd found my niche, been a part of something consistently rather than haphazardly, I'd have changed my story.  I didn't have to feel invisible.  Working on the reunion has brought me a lot of satisfaction and has connected me to people I never would have gotten to know otherwise.  I'm looking forward to seeing my old friends that weekend and getting to know some new friends a little better.

People malign their high school years and I often think it's more about regrets than anything else.  Maybe I'm romanticizing this more than I should, but if you could change something about your years in high school, what would it be?


  1. My high school years were pretty nice, a small group of close friends, some good times. I think what I'd change is my course of study back then, maybe take classes and join clubs more focused on, you guessed it, writing!

    Enjoy that reunion!

  2. Your post touched a place in me. In fact, I could have written it, because your experiences seem to twin my own. If I could change anything, it would have been to stop taking things personally. Comments and teasings weren't always meant to be hurtful and were, in fact, meant to lighten the moment.

    And it helps to remember that, yes, you grew up, but so did most of your classmates. I hope you have a great time!

  3. Thanks for reading, ladies. I think what I've taken away from the whole experience is that if you jump in and get involved, the awkwardness fades. I wish I'd known that thirty years ago!

  4. I don't think I'd really change anything*. Not that my gawky high school self was anything to brag about, but that awkward phase helped me grow into the person I am today. Since I'm comfortable with who I am, that's okay with me. :)

    *Okay, okay. Maybe bigger boobs. ;)

  5. Linda, I think most of us would ask for bigger boobs. Being a bit of a late bloomer, I know I would have.

  6. I recently got in touch with someone from high school that I sort of fell out with a long, long time ago. And it was really lovely to catch up. It made me realise that we've all grown up. However, I wish I'd had more confidence and cared less about what people thought of me. As for embarrassing teenage stuff - one thing I really regret is getting it all wrong with a boy I fancied. I held his hand in a moment of courage, didn't let go when I should have, and had a very awkward few days at school when he told everyone that he didn't fancy me! Still haunts me now!

  7. Confidence, Clare is the key to everything. I still worry about what these people think of me, and it's been 30 years. I wish I didn't but even if it's only a little bit, I do.

  8. LOVE the new design!!

    Right now listening to Carrie Diaries (Candace Bushnell) for 2nd time, which is all about her senior year, the year my life in h.s. also went sour.

    If I could have changed something it would have been not falling for the casanova that ruined my image of men for decades b/c he became partially my "type" leading to disastrous dating.

    However, if I hadn't dated Mr. Disaster then, I would have dated one eventually, and at least in h.s. I had access to at least one adult who told me to not cave into peer pressure.

    We didn't have a reunion until this past fall (20 years) and I was grateful he didn't attend. Twenty years turned out to be perfect--we were all thrilled to see each other.


  9. SL, I'm glad your 20 year turned out well. I'm hoping the same for our 30th. Thanks for reading.

  10. Oh, and SL...glad you like the new design. It's from a website called Hot Bliggity Blog. :-)