High school reunions are unlike most other events. You may still have close friendships with people you went to school with, but it’s more likely that most of the people you haven’t seen in decades.
Whether you were friends in school or not, you share background and experiences with these people. Your classmates are your age, and you share the same cultural references. Chances are you know the same music, movies and books, and likely root for the same sports teams.
You experienced the same teachers and extracurricular activities, and are bonded by being together in the same time and place for many years.
Here are five things that will make it worthwhile:
#1 You Get to Reconnect with Old Friends
This is probably the most obvious reason to attend the 40th reunion. Most of us have kept some friends from high school, and others disappeared from our lives shortly after graduation. Wouldn’t it be great to walk into the room to be greeted by people you haven’t seen for 40 years.
You could have wonderful conversations while catching up on work and families, travel and pastimes. You spent many years in the company of these people and it would be fun to see where fellow classmates landed in life.
We can celebrate retirement for some, children and grandchildren and share in the sorrow over the loss of parents, spouses and children. Though many years have passed you may be surprised to learn that you still care about these people.
#2 The Old Cliques Are Gone
I suspect many may avoid class reunions thinking people will split into old time cliques and will still feel like an outsider.
As noted at the 30th reunion that was not the case. Former football royalty chatted with the geeky nerd. The popular extroverts wandered around and happily engaged in conversation with those who in high school were quieter. People who never shared a table in the high school cafeterias were happily intermingling.
Teenage angst and insecurity are legendary. Adolescents can be cruel. More often than not, in high school you know your place and stick to it. All of that will melt away.
If someone had said in high school ‘some day you will see each other differently and you will all be friendly!” you wouldn’t have believed it. BELIEVE IT!
#3 Everybody Has Aged
I suspect that most of us, worry about how well we have or haven’t aged. Nothing brings that insecurity to the forefront faster than a reunion with people who knew you in our glory days. Back then we were probably as close to physical perfection as we would ever be – no gray hair, no saggy neck, no wrinkles and no artificial joints.
When it comes to aging, we’re all in the same boat. Yes, some people will look great and others will look a little worse for the wear. As a group some will be grayer, balder and heavier. NO ONE WILL CARE!
Perhaps we have all realized that our looks do not define us. What we remember is that people were kind. They were welcoming. No one will be shunned for carrying a cane or wearing thick glasses. As we have aged we seem to become happier in our own skin.
#4 We Can Quietly Honour Those Who Have Died
At the reunion there will be a table displaying photos of classmates who we are aware of who have passed. If you choose, take a moment to quietly pay your respects. They may have been your lab partner, fellow band member, team mate, in a club you were a part of or just a girl or boy with a shy smile that we hadn’t known well.
We may not have attended their funerals but we can honour them in a small way that night. Their passing may remind you that we travel on this path with others, and that we don’t know where or when our trip will end.
#5 It Will Make You Challenge Your Assumptions
Long ago, we formed assumptions about ourselves and others that might not be as true as we thought.
Conformity is the expectation in high school and it is not easy to live up to the deal.
The perceptions we form of ourselves and others in high school deserve to be challenged and the 40th reunion is the perfect opportunity. Rather than walking away feeling more insecure you’ll walk away feeling a little better about yourself. That alone should be reason enough to attend.
A class reunion offers us an opportunity to take a look at who we once were in light of who we are now. We can let go of our past insecurities, guilt or fears. We can present our older, wiser and more experienced selves.
We will see our classmates not necessarily as the people we remember, but as the people they are today. We can have fun and be grateful for the journey that has brought us together.