I attended my 20-year high school reunion last weekend; as a good friend said, it really was more like a family reunion than anything else—a tribute to the special kind of group we were, a group we still are.
I never doubted the fact that I wanted to attend this reunion; high school was an amazing time for me and it was because of those people and that experience that I found my ability to develop relationships, navigate the unfamiliar, lead a team, revel in the real love that exists between the lines of groups and affiliations—the place where we came together in community if for no other reason than we shared a school, a school that for many of us was more of a home than our own.
In my post-reunion euphoria I find myself in a place that asks, am I old enough to just have attended my 20-year class reunion? And if I am—and the lingering hangover two days later clearly says, yes indeed I am–doesn’t that mean I’m also old enough to let go of teenage insecurities?
I am a strong woman with a career and a home and a family so why is it that in a moment’s notice I can be reduced to fourteen years old again, even—maybe especially—at the prospect of spending an evening amongst a group of people I literally love like family? I’m not a teenager anymore, why do I still expect to look line one? Why do I still hesitate to go into a room alone, like maybe no one will talk to me? Did I ever really fit in? More to the point, do I now?
Twenty years ago or 48 hours ago, the questions seem ridiculous. In a family, we all fit; we all have a place; we all have a seat at the table that is our lives and I wasn’t in that room ten minutes before I remembered that. The memories of miniature golf, slumber parties, late-night work nights, graduation parties…they bind us in a way that the passing of time cannot touch.
In high school we’re all a little nuts; I could embarrass myself in a heartbeat thinking about some of the things I said or ways I acted in the name of pretending to be fearless. What’s great about reunions, though, is that all of that nonsense is gone; what’s left is just the us we spent so much time trying to protect—the us that our real friends knew was there the whole time.
In some cases we fell into laughter like no time at all had passed; in the majority of cases, however, a simple greeting and hug was all that passed between us, and that really was all we needed. I’m still here, you’re still here, we spent hours together in classrooms and absolutely none since then but we’re still deeply connected by the place that was our home.
I don’t have answers as to why teenage insecurity still has its way with me sometimes—that’s something on which I’ll have to reflect in the days to come. For now, I write this piece for two reasons: one, to thank my high school family for reminding me that insecurity is only a state of mind, not a state of being; and two, to give a virtual high-five to every one else there that night who showed up, even if their fourteen-year-old-selves made them doubt whether or not they should.
Judging by the dance floor alone, clearly we made one fantastic choice.
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