This past weekend I attended my 30-year high school reunion (how the hell did that happen!?!). It was our first official reunion, and was a wonderful evening celebrating with forever friends, reconnecting with old friends and even creating new connections with people who were more acquaintances than friends in high school. We spent time reminiscing about our lives then and catching each other up on events in our lives now – a challenging task in summarising, that’s for sure.
During the evening, a surprising number of people expressed they were nervous about attending, but how they were happy they’d come. Despite some initial fears and insecurities, spending time with people who you grew up with, who went through the awkward adolescent changes and experienced the momentous firsts during that period of life, was well worth it.
Personally, I felt much more confident speaking with these people now, than when I was a teenager. Of course, time, experience and maturity play a role here, but I think this is a more of a reflection of my ‘journey of self-acceptance’ (which I’ve written about previously, particularly in my blog post Trying to Fit the Mould).
Rather than worrying…
…if I fit in
…about what I looked like
…whether the ‘cool kids’ liked me
…about what I was missing out on
…or if the boy I had a crush on even knew I existed,
I realised that I was finally comfortable with who I am (the lingering insecurity about my appearance notwithstanding), and able to truly be myself with those around me…even if they had been the ‘most popular’ or ‘best looking’ person at school. I didn’t let self-doubt rule me or make assumptions about what others thought of me. It’s true when people say that all the things we were worried about in high school really don’t matter in a few years. Admittedly, it did take me longer than that to overcome my self-doubt and fear of failure, but given those were deeper issues, that’s not surprising.
The experience of being reunited with others the same age, who have gone through or are going through similar experiences, was comforting. And it was heartening being able to acknowledge our similar challenges and struggles, share achievements and celebrate each other’s successes. It was also a little easier to come to terms with ageing when you see for yourself that everyone is getting older (the fact that it had been 30 years and not 10 since many of us had seen each other in person probably helped)! Ageing is an inevitable part of life, and a privilege unfortunately denied many, including those from our graduating cohort whose memory we honoured.
Good or bad experiences aside, high school is an important part of our lives, and remembering all the things we shared and experienced together through the soft-focus of time is both entertaining and enlightening. Now, if only we'd had a soft-focus lens for the photos!
Graduation and Formal (Prom)
Then and Now
Forever Friends - 38, 32 and 35 years of friendship