I will start out by confessing that I really didn’t want to attend my high school reunion.
There were several reasons….
I didn’t really want to pay to see people that I haven’t kept in contact with in years. I thought that if we hadn’t stayed in contact at this point, why bother? I don’t mean that in a cold way, but typically you stay in contact with who you want to after high school and move on.
I wasn’t super smart. I wasn’t a troublemaker. I was just kind of average in high school. I pretty much got along with everyone but I never really felt comfortable in my own skin in high school. I’m not sure if anyone ever really does. I had friends in high school, but I also had other close friendships with students from other schools. I think that this made it so that I never really knew where I fit in clique-wise because I never fully focused only on relationships from my high school. I also wasn’t the girl that all of the guys wanted to date, but I did watch them date my friends, which made me a member of the “my mom says I’m pretty” club.
I honestly couldn’t wait for high school to be over. I just wanted a fresh start.
So my longest friend convinced/nagged me to go to the reunion. I’ve been friends with her my WHOLE life. Not many people can say that, but our moms were both pregnant at the same time and we were next door neighbors. Even though we were opposites in many ways, we’ve still stayed in touch our whole lives.
I signed up for my high school reunion on the very last day to sign up because I’m a procrastinator/deadline person and I still wanted to keep my options open.
So I’ll be the first to admit that I was wrong in my attitude and perspective.
So after attending my 20th high school reunion, I have some tips to share.
1. Eat before you go
Our reunion served appetizer style foods. It’s awkward to have a conversation with someone you haven’t seen in 20 years while eating hot wings or when you are super hungry scarfing down food. I only ate a few meatballs and one bite of a finger sandwich. Eat before!
2. Wear Comfortable Shoes
Depending on the environment of your reunion, you will probably not sit down a lot. I didn’t sit down the whole night, so comfortable shoes are important. Ladies, you can’t go wrong with wedges.
3. When you look good, you feel good
When deciding on what to wear, I would say to wear something that you tend to get complimented in that isn’t super trendy. Wear something that makes you feel comfortable and confident. Also, you need to get over it if you didn’t achieve perfect abs, your ideal weight, perfect hair, perfect life, etc. before the reunion. No one really cares that much and don’t let your insecurities keep you from the opportunity to enjoy the night. I didn’t remember people’s clothing size that night, but I did remember how they made me feel. We’ve all met beautiful people whose words or actions have made them less attractive and average people whose words or actions that have made them more beautiful. Beauty starts on the inside.
4. Have a wingman
I showed up with my oldest high school friend. My husband went to high school in Michigan so we decided that it would be more fun to go with a friend and less awkward for him to not know many people there. You have to decide if you want to bring that special someone with you and whether that person might feel ignored all night or not. I think that everyone is a little nervous or anxious about how the night will go. It’s a lot easier if you have someone by your side. I will note that I didn’t see my “wingman” until the end of the evening after we got there because we were both talking to different people throughout the night.
5. The experience is a bit like speed dating
You will talk A LOT. It’s also like a bunch of interrupted mini conversations. I felt like I was starting to lose my voice toward the end of the night. It’s also a lot easier to transition to talking to someone else if you are standing up vs. sitting down.
6. Facebook is a bit of a spoiler alert
My reunion wasn’t super dramatic with transformations because I’m friends with a good portion of people from high school on facebook. Facebook knowledge made it easier for conversations as a point of reference because I had a general idea of what they had been up to or if they had kids. I will also note that I feel like I’ve interacted with a lot of people on Facebook more than I ever did in high school in a good way.
7. Take the tour of your old high school if you can
Our reunion had a tour set up which gave the opportunity to reconnect with a few people ahead of time and also realize that all memories of high school really were not that bad.
8. A lot of beautiful people are still beautiful
It is what it is. They aged really well, but overall I feel like everyone aged really well. I also discovered and confirmed that I definitely peaked after high school based on the reactions that I received about how I looked. I’m ok with that. I felt WAY cuter in college than high school anyway.
9. When they ask you to submit pictures from high school for the reunion, DO IT!
Otherwise, you might discover that your only picture on the photo board at the reunion is from when you portrayed a prostitute in the play “Guys and Dolls” your senior year. Nice scrunchie and dress right?
10. Make your decision about drinking before you go
Do you plan on having more than a few drinks? Make sure that you have a designated driver set up ahead of time. When in doubt, Uber home if you need to. There will also likely be an after-party at a local bar so again, try to have your ride situation handled ahead of time. It’s not worth an accident or a DUI. Also, keep in mind that you haven’t seen a lot of these people in 20 years and that evening will also be their last impression of you for a while too. The effects of a few drinks can happen quicker than you realize and you don’t want any regrets…especially decisions or actions that could hurt or question your current relationships.
11. Talk to everyone
Who cares what their social status was in high school! Are they a nice person? Do they treat people with respect? Are they friendly, kind? Awesome, then great to see you! We’re not in high school anymore, so cross clique lines and you might discover that you missed out on getting to know some really amazing people in high school. We also tend to give grace to ourselves that we’ve changed but forever remember people for how they were in high school ..good or bad. Extend and give grace. You’ve changed and so has everyone else. We’re all on a journey and no one has gone through life without some bumps in the road. We’ve all made mistakes and authenticity is actually really refreshing.
12. Thank your reunion organizers
They put A LOT of hours into contacting everyone, setting up the venue, taking payments, and all of the little touches during the event from music to photo boards to party favors to make the evening special.
13. Ask for people to tag you if they take pics that night…unless they are unflattering
I didn’t take pictures at my reunion which is really weird because I take pictures of EVERYTHING – ALL. THE. TIME. Honestly, it would have felt odd in many of the moments of conversation with someone I hadn’t seen in years, to ask to pause to take a pic. I’m also not adding group pictures from the reunion in this post because I want to be respectful of everyone’s privacy.
14. Reconnect with those friendships that have lost touch
I realized that there were a lot of people that I missed, that I didn’t know that I missed. Our class has already lost 7 people. Too many, too soon. Life goes by so fast. Don’t miss your opportunity to see people that you might not see again. Also, intentionally follow up on those friendships that you really want to reconnect with. Don’t let another 20 years pass by.
My takeaway from the reunion was that it REALLY was good to see everyone. That’s something that I kept on saying throughout the night.
Your high school years don’t define you, but they do help shape you into the person you are today by how you responded to them.
If you are on the fence about going to your reunion, I would encourage you to go….or at least consider it.
You’ll be glad that you did.