There is nothing worse than a room full of "mean girls" and ex-boyfriends not to mention all the people whose names and faces you've long since forgotten. This summer is high school reunion time and there's no way in hell I'm going!
Even though it's been nearly 35 years since I walked those hallowed halls, it seems wounds are still raw, insecurities instantly flood back, and the thought of a room full of my former classmates makes me shaky at best, nauseous at worst. Besides, I always said I wouldn’t go to a reunion until after a full face lift and that’s not on my calendar yet.
Can you tell I was not a big fan of high school? Even though I was a cheerleader and active in all the usual shenanigans, I was never comfortable in my high school skin. In those days, I didn’t find my voice, hit my stride, pull it together, or whatever you want to call it. Nope, it simply did not happen.
Sure, I had pompoms, friends and high school crushes. But there were also all those guys and girls that were so intimidating to me as a teenager. Not that they were actually mean to me, it's just that when it comes to the teenage years and high school, my self-confidence is still in my gym locker and I doubt I'll get it back in time to attend the reunion.
A handful of friends, from back in the day, have encouraged me to partake saying the past is history and high school BS of yesteryear is long gone; replaced with age and maturity. But still, therapy is expensive. I've spent thousands of dollars trying to get over teen boyfriends, the embarrassment of public showering after gym class, not having the "perfect outfit" to wear each and every day, and all those barely average report cards. The shy teenage girl that didn’t feel cool enough for the cool crowd, was too dumb for the smart crowd, too healthy for the smoke-in-the-bathroom crowd and well, just not enough of anything to really "belong" back then, still feels the pain all these years later.
Yes, I have a few dear friends from high school whose weddings I’ve danced at, children I’ve celebrated and parents I always call when I’m “back home”. They are a huge part of my life; I love them; and wouldn’t trade our years of friendship for anything. And, every now and then in Ohio, I run into a familiar face or two and we reminisce about the “glory days”. But a big group of my classmates, all in the same place at the same time-- No thank you. That just feels like too much pressure.
High school, in my small hometown, came with a lot of expectations that were not in my plans. For starters we had a class in our senior year-- just for girls-- that still leaves me shaking my head even today. For an entire semester-- a full half of our senior year of school, we girls, spent 47 minutes a day, five days a week, in a class learning to plan our weddings. I kid you not! A full semester filed with the ins and out, the do’s and don’ts, and all things virginal and pure, that goes with a big wedding extravaganza. At the end of the school year, each girl had a big three-ring binder with everything we needed for the wedding of our dreams. We even had a chapter on planning the perfect baby shower!
Problem was, I was not interested in getting married or having babies, but that was not the kind of thing you advertised back in 1976 where I lived, especially since several of the girls in our class were already pregnant and planning their weddings for right after graduation.
The idea of taking a final exam for a “how to get married” class was just not working for me. Not that there’s anything wrong with getting married and having kids, I’m all for it. But at 17 years of age, I thought maybe teaching us how to balance a checkbook, understand an apartment lease, or how buy a car would be good “life skills”, not lectures on bridesmaid dresses, garter throwing etiquette (apparently there IS such a thing!), or picking china patterns.
So to make the high school years ever harder, not wanting to be a bride was not only a surprise to my high school sweetheart, it was a class I barely received a passing grade. All that added up to being a bad student and probably a bad future wife, as my wedding class teacher often pointed out to me.
Where does that leave me today, at 51? Well, I think I’m a good wife and an adult that has found my voice in life. But, I’m still not up for a high school reunion and connecting with a crowd of former classmates. It's a strange feeling too. My former classmates were, and I'm sure still are, really good people; but I still feel out of place. Maybe because, if they had a show of hands, I’m pretty sure I would be the oldest bride in our class of 200. And, since I chose not to have children, that could be a conversation stopper.
Perhaps I'm wimping out and not giving them, or myself, enough credit. Nevertheless, I'm staying on the opposite side of the country and as far away from my hometown high school as possible on reunion weekend. No trip down Memory Lane for this girl.
How do you feel about high school reunions?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna