My 20 year class reunion is this weekend. Which is crazy, because how could I be out of high school for 20 years? But this is not about how old I am. This is about why I am not going to my high school reunion. There are a lot of simple and practical reason like: It costs money, I didn’t like high school, with social media these days I can stay connected… but really there is a deeper underlying psychology going on here.
High school was the pits for me. I did not fit in, I was always a year behind in fashion, all the boys I had crushes on did not know I existed, my grades were weak, I was teased and even bullied. There is this part of me that would love to go and say “Hey look at me! I am successful and happy in spite of all of you!” I have traveled the world, I have a Master’s degree, I have a great job, I teach a college course, I have a very cute husband who totally takes care of me, I have these amazing kids who I am parenting decently. I have friends, I am sorta trendy, I fit in in my life now. I am funny and charismatic. I am not who I was and I want all of you to know it.
But part of me finding myself, and creating a life I am proud of, has been understanding where I came from. Did I really not fit in? Who set these arbitrary standards I thought I had to fit into? Well, I did. Was it the school’s fault I did not get good grades? Well, I am pretty lazy. Did I really get teased? Yes, I did, but it was not daily and it was not by every single person and it was likely the same kind of teasing that every single other person in that school went through at one time or another. I was bullied, by 3 girls my sophomore year for a couple weeks. Then it ended. It was a fraction of my time. These girls are not even in my grade so certainly would not be at a reunion.
The reality of my high school experience was living up to expectations that I set myself. And now, talking to people who I considered perfect or popular or happy, were just as unhappy as I was. I do not have anything to prove to anyone, because really, I don’t think one person that I spent my time worrying about it high school spends one second thinking about what happened to me. Nor would anyone hope I show up so they could say see me and hope I was unhappy. And really, not one person would say, “Wow, I wish I paid more attention to that Sarah Brower in high school cause look at her now!”
So for me to go to a reunion just to stick it to someone is really just me being very narcissistic and really pretty pitiful. And the people I wanted to stay connected to, I am connected to. I am very aware of what is happening in my world with the people that are important to me. And I have new people and new connections. And I need to stop blaming the class of 94 for all of my “issues” because it really has nothing to do with them.
I also suck at mingling and small talk, especially if our only common ground is a building 20 years ago. And in writing this today, I have realized it has taken me 20 years to start letting go of mostly imagined attitudes and issues that were 95% assumed by me.