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How to prepare for your high school reunion

Updated on June 30, 2011
My infamous red dress
My infamous red dress

It's not just about losing weight

It's natural when learning about an upcoming high school - or college - reunion to worry about getting in shape. And the truth is, I wish I had hit the gym a few months before mine. I will admit that seeing the photos of myself in my glossy, red Issac Mizrachi party dress pasted on Facebook has gotten me working out after the fact. But no, that's not what I'm going to talk about here, except to say, black is your best friend.

This is about developing the emotional intelligence to prepare for your high school reunion so that you enjoy yourself, have no regrets afterward and actually want to attend the next one.

I had a marvelous time in high school and I would imagine that most people who plan on attending a reunion had at least a fairly good experience as a student, or why would they want to travel that particular memory lane? On the other hand, some might want to go back in time to try to right some wrongs. My sister, for example, has some painful memories of those years and took advantage of the opportunity to tell her "mean girl" off and remind her of the emotional havoc she wreaked on her adolescent victims. I was there and saw the former victimizer panting, "I'm so sorry. I'm not like that anymore." Fast forward, my sister lost interest in any further high school reunions (though a number of classmates have stepped forward to express their solidarity).

You may not have an ax to grind. You may genuninely want to reconnect and share some heart to hearts or just have a hootie ole time. Here are some tips so that you can make the most of your reunion experience.

Romy and Michele "Time After Time"

Prepare Mentally

1. It may sound corny, but it helps to take the time to review your old yearbooks, photo albums and journals so that you can reconnect with your past and brush up on details about your friends and acquaintances that you may have forgotten.

2. Think about the reasons you want to attend the reunion. Are there a few special friends with whom you'd like to reconnect? Do you miss your old crowd? Do you want to show off the new you? Did you have a great time at your previous reunion? Do you want to fill in some blanks about your past?

3. Think about the things you would like to share about yourself: Your career accomplishments, stories about your family, places you have traveled, hurdles you've cleared, breakthroughs in your life. Time is too precious at a reunion to waste on small talk. Be real!

4. If you will be attending with a spouse or fiance, think about the ways that you will integrate that person into the event. Your reunion may only last 1-3 days. You want your relationship to go on longer than that. So prepare yourself to find (non-embarrasing) ways of drawing your significant other into the conversation.

5. Think about what you'd like to take away from the experience: To learn things you never knew about your friends (or yourself). To feel better about yourself than you did back then. To reestablish old friendships. To expand your circle of friends. To rekindle an old love connection. To make new memories to share with family and friends.

Painless Poll

Did you enjoy your last high school reunion?

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Will you attend your next high school reunion?

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Prepare Physically

Despite what I said earlier, a school reunion is a great motivator for getting in shape. It's always a good idea to stay physically fit. But let's say the date has crept up on you and there's nothing more to be done about a few extra pounds. Suffice to say, this is a time when a little extra grooming is not considered frivolous. A month or so before the big weekend, take inventory of what you will wear and also create a backup plan. If shopping is not in your budget, then perhaps you can exchange favors with a friend or relative with an ample wardrobe and ask to borrow something nice for the big event. I found that you're better off wearing nice, tailored separates with a fesitive shawl and a dressy pair of (costume jewelry) earrings, than a cocktail dress if it doesn't fit flawlessly.

It's a good idea to get your best friend, son or daughter (someone who will be brutally honest) to take a few photos of you in your outfit with their phone. Those are the kind of pix that will show up on Facebook and all over the internet and you want to make sure what you're wearing will be flattering when flattened out. You may be protecting yourself from a devastating aftermath.

If you're a man, the same holds true. It's better to wear a pair of slacks and a linen shirt (or if you can pull it off, a "guayabera") than an ill fitting suit. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Get a manicure. Get your hair deep conditioned. You deserve it.

Pack photos of your loved ones or scan them onto your i-Pod. Believe me, the older you get, the more people appreciate them.

Now enjoy yourself!

I'd rather you forget everything I've said and have a great time, than dwell on all my self-conscious ramblings. Go. Take pictures. Collect email addresses. Thank the organizers. Dance your --- off. You won't be the first to mess up the Macarena.

Vicarious High School Reunion Fun


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