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How To Best Approach High School Reunions
Thoughts on having fun with old friends
Recently I did something that for a long time I imagined was about a million years in the future: I attended my 25-year high school class reunion.
Unlike what was depicted in movies like "Peggy Sue Got Married" with Kathleen Turner, Jim Carrey and Nicolas Cage and Billy Joel's video "The Longest Time", where the guys all wore bad polyester leisure suits and looked like they were seven months pregnant while the ladies all looked like bingo players in the rest home, the people in my high school's class of 1985 looked terrific, many of them looking like they could be college undergraduates if not in high school.
I'm sure that a lot of people approach their class reunions with a little trepidation; I know I did for my 10-year one back in 1995. Oftentimes it's been at least a decade since those old friends and classmates were seen, some of them dating all the way back to elementary school; it was certainly a bit freaky for me to see folks who were in my fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classes.
I also imagine that some individuals at reunions tend to compare themselves to their schoolmates as far as how successful their lives have been. I've found myself feeling a tiny bit down or that I am lagging way behind when I see people my age with loving spouses, kids, financially lucrative and personally satisfying careers and four bedroom houses in the suburbs.
These classmates who I once sat next to in history class and hung out with as teens and pre-teens would be wearing Brooks Brothers suits and Chanel dresses, while I was digging in my closet to find something presentable and appropriate to wear, feeling a bit inferior as a result.
By the 25-year gig, I had understood and remembered two important rules as far as how to best approach social situations like class reunions; essentially speaking, they're the only rules that one should keep in mind:
RELAX AND BE YOURSELF.
I was reminded of this when I saw a classmate, who was a decent friend that I played in the marching band and jazz ensemble with in school, come to the big shindig in an old polo shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes. He obviously didn't give a care what people thought, and I considered that attitude to be the ultimate in cool.
While I had always known that I should always be myself in the back of my mind, I couldn't help feeling a tiny bit under dressed compared to the Brooks Brothers and Chanel folks. I realized once and for all, however, that it's ridiculous to compare yourself to others.
That's why the Shakespeare quote, "To thy own self be true" holds so true here; it doesn't matter one iota where one's station is in life; so what if you don't arrive to the reunion party in a stretch hummer limosuine or a helicopter?
The most important things to remember at events like class reunions is to relax and be who you are, whether it's a longtime fanatic of Red Sox Nation or a cowboy who has spent two decades roping broncos and steering Holstein cows on the range in Wyoming.
Being that I'm pursuing a freelance writing career while working on a book and not working for an employer and a salary, I knew I was the poorest person in the room at the night of the big 25th reunion shindig; I came to the soiree via the local bus line and bummed a ride home from a very nice classmate who, incredibly enough was in my fourth grade class way back in the mid-1970s, but you know what?
That was perfectly OK - I went to that recent celebration intending only to be myself and have a good time, which is exactly what I ended up doing. I think my old schoolmates and friends respected me more because of that.
The bottom line to all of this is that you don't have to have a bank account comparable to Bill Gates or own two Rolls Royces, a Bentley, and have Hugh Hefner or Paris Hilton as a neighbor to be impressive at your class reunion.
Don't worry about what your classmates have; just be yourself and relax.
If you do those things, a fun time will be had - I guarantee it.