Why I won’t be going to my high school reunion

First off, I am not alone in this! Just search “going to high school reunion” on Google and notice how most titles contain the words “not going”, or start with “X reasons” to either attend or not.

Second, I was actually excited when I first heard the reunion was being organized. I figured I could attend for a few hours, if only to celebrate my current life without all the crap and drama from high school. We could get back in touch, reminisce, satisfy our curiosity about who is where in their life, and party like it’s 2006.
I talked to one of the people organizing the event, and he said he’d call me when anything has been decided since I don’t have a Facebook account under my name (because of stalker issues way back when, I still won’t be sharing my pen name but with a handful of people I know in real life). He asked if I knew phone numbers of some former colleagues, or had any ideas for an event hall. I said I’d find out/ask advice from friends and get back to him.
When I found out one of the phone numbers he was interested in, I texted him. After I complied a list of five event hall ideas I knew were good and not too pricey, I texted him.
Both texts received the same answer, that is, NO answer. Two months later there was still no news from him or anyone organizing the reunion.

That half-snapped me out of it!

I started thinking. Or overthinking?
Sure, after suffering through high school and having since built a wonderful, rewarding life for myself despite any bad experiences and setbacks (that’s just Life), showing off my success to the people that treated me badly could’ve been quite vindicating. Then again, when ever I wanted to, I could’ve just friended all my former high school colleagues on Facebook if I wanted to brag or see who is up to what in their life.
However, I have kept in touch with precisely two (2!) people from high school! Another person I ran into on a nearly daily basis when I was working as QA, but she rarely said “hello” back.
If I want someone in my life, chances are they’re already there!

The idea of one hundred people in the same room as me doesn’t really agree with me. You might recall I don’t particularly like weddings either, although one did give me enough material for a blog post. (As a side note, I am already dreading having to go to a wedding this October where I can’t use that clever survival guide, since I’m not really friends with the bride and groom.)
While these people I do somewhat know after four years of high school together, having to make polite chit-chat while old cliques inevitably form doesn’t appeal to me. We didn’t have much in common ten years ago, and I don’t expect to have much in common now after we’ve all changed, defined ourselves and turned into adults.

New York Magazine ran an article about “Why you never truly leave high school”, which discussed how our self-image from those years is especially adhesive. The article asserts that one of the reasons high schools produce such peculiar value systems is precisely because the people there have little in common, except their ages. Since there is no clear way to sort out social status, kids create them on their own based on crude, common-denominator stuff like nice clothes, athletic prowess, and looks, rather than on subtleties in personalities. This results in an unfortunate paradox: Though adolescents may want nothing more than to be able to define themselves, they discover that high school is one of the hardest places to do it. I didn’t have nice clothes, wasn’t athletic, and went through quite a long phase of curtain-type bangs. Maybe (surely) I was one of those kids, not quite fitting into one of those categories, but desperately wanting to neatly belong.

Truth be told, what makes me happiest about my decision of not attending my high school reunion isn’t only all of the above. I could’ve made myself suck it up and go, only for those people who I maybe would’ve liked catching up with. I just didn’t want to after really thinking about all of this. I figured I’d rather go out with friends I do enjoy being with and celebrate my birthday instead.
I texted the guy organizing the reunion, saying that I won’t be going. I wanted to do the right thing so they wouldn’t count on me. This time, he texted back. He said I should’ve checked the Facebook group discussions if I wanted to find out anything about the event before making other plans, that I was the only one who didn’t receive the information he put out there.

OK. That definitely snapped me out of it!

4 Comments to “Why I won’t be going to my high school reunion”

  1. Great post. And spot on. I’ve never been to a reunion, and furthermore I don’t Facebook. If I liked you in HS, I probably still like you and know you. If not, then you’re history that I’ve long forgotten. Life was so much easier when I was a kid. Sooooooooooo much easier!!!!

    • Yes, that’s my philosophy as well, if we got along, then we’re most likely still friends.
      And I completely get that, even I think that it was easier when I was a kid than it is for kids today. I have friends who already have a Facebook account for their kids who aren’t even seven years old yet… But that’s another story! ;)

  2. Oh, boy. I have to disagree about going to one’s high school reunion. In high school, I was a nobody. I belonged to a great group of kids but there were several thousands of kids at my school. For the most part I was judgmental based on the criteria you outlined above. I labeled everyone as either ‘jock,’ pothead, nerd, freak, and other horrible names. And I labeled myself, of course, so I wasn’t above being very critical of myself.

    But the thing is that now I have Facebook and have friended many of the same people I judged so harshly, I realized what an a*shole I was. Some of the people I’ve friended are incredible and I had no idea because I didn’t give them the time of day. They’re intelligent, kind, thoughtful, funny, and insightful. I’ve become really good friends with many of them. I feel as if I’ve been given a second chance. Some of them I’ve even had the chance to clear the air about our very wrong perceptions of each other.

    Because this is only your tenth, though, it still may not be a good time to go to your high school reunion. Perhaps if you wait until the 20th after lives have settled into monotony and everyone’s become more humble from life’s bumps and bruises–that is when a classmate’s true self comes out–when they’re done trying to impress and you’re just hanging out with people who knew you way back when.

    • I think we’re always more critical of ourselves, especially in our teen years.
      But it is great that you became friends with people you judged back in high school and got this second chance to find out what incredible people they are, and the same goes vice versa!
      And even better that you managed to clear the air with some people. Even if you never speak again, that is still important for moving on, I think.

      You’re also right about maybe attending my 20th high school reunion as opposed to this 10th one now. People will probably have cooled down from all of life’s bumps and bruises by then.

      I know personally I’ve been through a lot of losses, ups and downs, especially downs and scares since high school. I’ve only managed to get on a path I finally love after seven or eight years (there was always good in there as well, it’s just been very difficult). And so, possibly I have a better understanding of some things than others who’ve only had a straight path with only minor issues.
      I see that with close friends, too, actually. If they hadn’t had any hardships, they don’t understand that it takes me nearly a year to save up for a ten-day vacation – while I’m beyond happy that finally I can at least save up for one instead of not even having the option three years ago!

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