(continued from above)
So how should
you prepare emotionally for your upcoming High School
reunion? Consider the following advice as a rough guideline
for dealing with the highs and lows you may experience.
1. We were all 18 once, and we all lived to tell the tale.
Many of us look back on our High School days with a mixture
of pride and embarrassment. We can't believe we wore those
clothes, got those haircuts, hung out with that crowd, said
that to our dates or spent so much money on that junk. These
experiences are universal, and you'll discover how universal
once you start swapping notes at the reunion. If you have
lingering feelings of inadequacy or embarrassment from your
High School days, listen to what the others are saying. More
importantly, listen to what the others are NOT saying. They
are not recalling all of your earlier mistakes in painful
detail. They are not holding you up to the same ridicule you
may have experienced 'back in the day'. If anything, reunion
stories about High School tend to be much more reaffirming
and light-hearted- a feeling of 'hey, we were all in this
together'. Take adult comfort in the fact that very few
people even remember all the 'dumb' things you did as a
teenager. Sometimes we forget to leave a lot of emotional
baggage at the door when attending reunions. By approaching
the reunion in an mature frame of mind, you can enjoy
hearing these anecdotes without fear or dread.
2. Be prepared for 'career envy'. High School reunions can
be very strange events to attend, because quite often the
only element the participants have in common is the fact
that they went to the same High School twenty years ago.
Some have gone on to professional careers and academic
endeavors, while others sought out work in blue-collar
fields, or failed to seek work at all. Whatever your present
career path in life, you may feel a deep sense of failure
after reuniting with 'Dr. Smith' or 'Professor Jones'.
|You may even be
in the position of BEING Dr. Smith, in which case you may
feel resentment mixed in with the congratulations on your
successful career. Either way, be prepared for a wide range
of reactions from your former classmates.
The reality of most High School reunions
is that some of the participants won't want to wish you well
or become more acquainted. You may feel as though your
career goals pale in comparison to others, but you should
not use a reunion as a personal growth measurement crutch.
You are not in competition with these people, so try your
best to put a positive spin on your own accomplishments.
Life is notoriously unfair at times, but reunions are a time
of reaffirmation and growth, not more fodder for resentment.
3. There's an old flame burning in
your eyes. One of the biggest emotional challenges for any
guest at a High School reunion is dealing with former
romantic interests, both real and imagined. At any given
moment, you may find yourself between the cheerleader who
broke your heart and the girl whose heart you broke. Add to
that your present circumstances with a spouse or steady
relationship, and you have all the ingredients for a sticky
situation indeed. What you need here is perspective and
emotional strength. If you are attending this event with
your significant other, remember that they are very much a
part of your present life and will be part of your future as
well. The cheerleader and the girl you left behind are part
of your past, and should probably remain there. The same
holds for the captain of the football team and that geeky
band guy you rejected in ninth grade. When it comes to
affairs of the heart, you cannot always trust your sense of
What you may feel like doing or saying at
the reunion may not be the PROPER thing to do or say,
especially when there are people in your life who may be
hurt. Put your feelings in perspective from the very
|Going to a High School reunion with a hidden
emotional agenda can backfire painfully. If you are still
single and have fantasies of rekindling a romance with your
High School sweetheart, proceed with caution. Respect their
boundaries and accept whatever reality check you are given.
It is much easier emotionally to arrive at the reunion
without an agenda and just allow exchanges to happen
4. "Hey! It's that: a) Nerd b) Jock c) Burnout d) Band
Geek." Stereotypes die hard, and stereotypical behavior may
still run rampant at your reunion. Don't be surprised if
some of the former athletes still resent the studious
classmates, or the former cheerleaders look down on the
'nobodies'. This is behavior that was ingrained for many
formative years, and adulthood will not automatically change
it. You may like to believe that you have no such prejudices
in your own life, but don't be surprised if a few pop out at
the reunion. You may have experienced a tremendous amount of
psychological pain from your treatment at the hands of some
of those now sampling the hors d'oeuvres and dancing the
These issues may still affect how you view the
world as an adult. You do indeed have a right to feel this
way about how you were treated as a teenager by your peers.
Sometimes these repressed feelings surface at reunions, so
be prepared to take a long walk or spend time with friends.
If you find yourself on the other end of the spectrum, don't
give in to peer pressure and renew former prejudices and
stereotypical views. Distance yourself from the 18 year old
version that didn't know any better. A reunion may be your
last best chance to make amends with some people you may
have hurt in the past, or receive a heartfelt apology from a
Enjoy the banquets and the picnics and all
the other great events at a High School reunion, but don't
neglect your emotional health at the same time.