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Attending Your High School Reunion with Class
High School: It Was The Best And Worst of Times
Nothing strikes more fear in grown adults as much as attending one’s own high school reunion. Whether it be the 10th, 20th or 50th reunion most people feel a tidal wave of excitement, fear and anxiety when the little white (they are almost always white) invitation arrives. No matter how John Hughes-like your high school experience was most people want to put their best foot forward when seeing their old school chums. So to make the evening a success and not a reenactment of the four years of torture you may have suffered then you need an action plan to make the evening a success.
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Step One: Decide if Your Attendance Is Mandatory to YOU !
The first step is to ask yourself, “Is it really necessary for me to attend this thing?" After all, you may be in a great place in life and reconnecting with people you knew years ago may not really rank up there with staying in, ordering Thai food and watching a DVD. I, for one, gave myself a million excuses why I didn't need to attend my reunion. Although I loved high school I couldn't bring myself to check off the Yes box. The truth was I literally delivered my second baby in 11 months the week before the party and I didn't want to subject myself to scrutiny. After much soul searching I finally realized I wouldn't miss this event for the world and neither would my old friends who confirmed they were also attending. Who cares if there was more jiggle to my walk and my feet were still a little swollen. I threw on a tasteful leopard print dress over my trusty Spanx and stuffed my cankles into an impossible pair of stilettos and laughed the night away.
Step Two: Okay so you've decided you’re going. Yea! Now Let’s get started.
The second step is to make sure you RSVP on time. Some people suffer such angst about attending that they forget to RSVP at all. This will also stop the waffling in your mind. Experts say once you commit to an event the chances of you following through are greater. Also, if you forget to RSVP you may have to pay a higher ticket price at the door. So now is the time to pick up the pen, check off the box and put a stamp on it.
If you live close to your hometown you most likely will not have to worry about travel arrangements, but if you must fly, book your trip early and create a highly detailed itinerary. Or better yet, if you are bringing a spouse, friend or partner, ask them to take care of the travel plans so you can focus on the actual reunion. If your event is out of town it will be much more relaxing to know that all the travel and hotel arrangements are finalized for the evening and you can relax that day and focus on more important things.... like clothes .
Step Three: Dress Up...as Yourself!
Speaking of clothes, make sure the outfit you plan on wearing is appropriate for the venue. Some reunion functions are formal, some are super casual outdoor events. When I attended my 20th reunion I was bewildered at how casual some people dressed. This was not a picnic or barbecue venue. For these specific men and women I realize it wasn't because of lack of income or because they came at a moments notice. It was clear to all who did the same double take as I did that they are trying to pull off the "I don’t care look" But what it really said to all of us is "I do care enough to try to look like I don't care because I desperately need attention so look at me. Please look at me." Regardless of how far we've come in life when reunions are involved it is important to follow the Golden Rule of Dress: It is better to be over dressed than under dressed. You can always remove your tie or extra jewelry to try and look more relaxed. Its really up to your comfort level.
Step 4: Your arrival
One of the hardest things for even the most confident person to do is enter a room of former classmates. These were, after all, the people you judged yourself against. I was having a hard time with nerves the day of my reunion. I was in the middle of the social structure at my high school and I still felt a little like running to the bar for a glass of courage. Since I was nursing my newborn that wasn't possible. So I leaned on my husband's arm and let him lead me into the room of terror. Looking back I am amazed at how insecure I became that day, but that's what reunions can do, so it is important to take and inventory of who you are before you attend.
- Make a script in your head of what you want to share with people who ask what you have been up to. Include personal aspects of your life as well as professional accomplishments. Be Honest! You know it just takes a curious old friend to Google your company or search your married name to find out if your story is solid. And with smart phones it can be done as quickly as it takes to say "Gotcha!"
- A reunion isn't all about you. Find out what your old friends have been up to. You may rekindle an old friendship that would make your life richer. Or you may make a business contact out of an old football teammate.
- Reunions are a great place to network. Even if you are not in the process of job hunting, make sure people know you are a successful architectural designer from Austin, TX because they may just know someone who needs a good architectural designer in Austin, TX.
- Most important thing to remember about reunions is that they are a brief slice of our former life that we are fortunate to experience and they only come around once every ten years or so. No amount of anxiety or insecurity about your past should keep you from experiencing a part of your life. Relax and Enjoy!