Are you one of those people who truly disliked high school?
Maybe you switched schools, and it was hard for you to make friends. Or you were perpetually turned off by the shallowness of clique mentality. Or between homework and an after-school job, you barely had enough time to keep your head above water, let alone do anything that might be called fun.
If this is you, we get it. We really do.
If you happen to be in a reunion year, you may be receiving inquiries from organizers right about now.
School reunion season is gearing up once again, and thousands of people around the country have decisions to make.
Some are busy reaching out to old friends and making plans for reconnecting at their class’s event. These are the people who loved high school. Maybe they led the debate team or participated in cheerleading or just had an awesome group of friends. They might have been “A” students, or maybe they barely ever cracked the honor roll. They might have been extremely popular and known by pretty much everyone, or maybe they found their own niche in the drama department. Whatever the case, they have very fond memories of their high school years. And we are happy for them.
A much larger segment of the population has more lukewarm feelings on the subject: Spirit Week was pretty fun. Riding the bus was horrible. Cafeteria food was scary (and sometimes finding somewhere to sit could be as well). There might have been a couple of embarrassing incidents that are better off forgotten. Most friends from that time are now just acquaintances or distant memories.
For some people, though, thoughts of high school bring back feelings of annoyance or resentment or sadness or even anger.
There are some common reasons why people can be resistant to the idea of attending a high school reunion.
- I don’t care about any of those people.
If this is you, you might just be surprised. Often, it’s those who have the least expectations about their reunion who end up having the most fun. If you attend without any cares, you’ll most likely be more relaxed. This will make it easier to engage in conversation, and you may learn some really interesting things about your former schoolmates. And remember, you all do have something in common, and that will always bond you to each other.
- Everyone just wants to share their accomplishments, and nothing much has been going on in my life.
This is pretty much how everyone feels, so you shouldn’t dwell on those insecurities. But if you really don’t want to shine a light on what you might think of as a boring life, ask questions. There will be plenty of folks who will be happy to share insights about their own lives. People always appreciate a chance to talk with someone who isn’t self-centered!
- I won’t know anybody and won’t know what to talk about.
Many people are in the same boat and will be grateful if you approach them. You can start off asking about what they’ve been up to since high school, but try to move past the superficial questions if you get a chance. Ask them about their favorite high school memories or what they wish they’d known when they were a teenager or what they like best about where they’re living now.
- I’m still upset about ________.
The teen years are filled with changes: new responsibilities and life experiences, heightened emotions, physiological transformations, and shifting interests and friendships. Having to continually adapt to these changes can be very stressful. And through it all, the average high school student is expected to navigate through the day and take things in stride. This is easier said than done, and many people graduate having said or done things that they regret.
Whether you were the instigator or the victim, it can sometimes be hard to put these feelings of regret behind you. Although you may go months or even years without thinking about it, random things can trigger memories and expose that 16-year-old still residing inside you.
Attending your reunion gives you the opportunity to interact with these people again and hopefully to heal old emotional scars. Remember that, as you are older and more mature than you used to be, so is everyone else. Nobody is 18 anymore, and everyone has gone through experiences that have changed them. And, just like you, other people are likely harboring feelings of regret about something or other. Sharing a sincere conversation and maybe an apology can shed emotional baggage like nothing else can.
If you are still carrying around bad feelings about a part of your life that was a decade (or two, or three, or four) ago, you owe it to yourself to try to heal them. Negative feelings weigh you down. Forgiveness makes you feel lighter.
We hope reading this has made you consider attending your reunion. It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often. You may even emerge from the experience with a new (or renewed) friendship or two.