Wednesday, March 25, 2015

MY TEN YEAR REUNION AND A LOT OF FEELINGS I DIDN'T KNOW I HAD.

{my alma matter}
Earlier this week I got the notification in the mail that my 10 year high school reunion is coming up this fall.

High school, according to many, is supposed to be the best time of your life. I have mostly fond memories of high school, in that it wasn't overly difficult for me, but I certainly wouldn't categorize it as the pinnacle of my youth either. I was awkward, shy, lacked self-confidence, and never really felt at home with any particular group of people.

I had friends (a lot from other area schools), I was busy and social during those four years. I was friends with a few girls who floated between groups, and who seemed effortlessly cool- which left me feeling like the nerdy side-kick. I remember driving around after football games with them as they got texts from guys who I fawned over, asking what their ("our") plans were for the evening and having borderline fan-girl moments thinking it was possible I'd get to hang out with ((insert hot-guy-of-the-month's name here)) and his friends, or even better upperclassmen.

I cringe writing these things out now because it just sounds so sad.  I'm fairly certain I project my current feelings, as a significantly more confident version of myself,  onto the 2005 version of myself.  That version of myself didn't know who she was or where she fit in. She always dressed a little "off" from what was actually cool at the time, and didn't learn how to effectively use a hair straightener until sometime in 2007. Here's the thing: nobody ever made me feel left out as I was experiencing these things. If I was secretly being made fun of behind my back all those years I had no idea. Like I said, high school was fine for me, but when I spend any amount of time looking back and analyzing who I really was back then, I recognize myself as someone who was not totally happy, or secure in herself.. and it brings up all sorts of retroactive feelings I didn't know I had.

I spent some time tonight scrolling through the people who have been accepted into the reunion group on Facebook..often times clicking on images of new married names to try to figure out who from the class of 2005 I was looking at. I thought about who those people were back then, my very ambiguous self-imposed definitions of who they were and what groups they ran with. While I'm sure everyone is 'different' in the vaguest sense of the word, I spent more time wondering about those individuals who seem so very different: the quiet 'nerdier' girls, the ones who have lost a ton of weight, the ones who have mastered a makeup brush.  It's not even so much those superficial attributes I notice, but the confidence- the change in attitude. This is perhaps the case because I identify with them the most.

I find myself wondering what people think of me- am I looked at and pigeonholed as the 2005 version of myself? What did they identify that version as, even? Do people even remember me? It's probably time to mention that I currently am friends (as in, see on a semi-regular social basis) with absolutely no one I graduated high school with. I do have some friends today that I picked up in that time period, or knew in childhood, but didn't graduate with. This has been a source of anxiety, self-doubt, and remorse for me for years. Like I said, I had friends in high school- that was never the problem. The problem was that I didn't know who I was. I floated between groups, more concerned with having weekend plans than gaining the confidence to form and carry through deep meaningful relationships to where I am today. In some respects, the same can be said for college- a place I also escaped with fair enough memories and absolutely nobody who I see on a consistent basis (or any basis) today. The reasons looked different, but I'm just now realizing the root was the same. I tended to follow guys around, and formed my social groups based on who I was pursuing that year. I can see it plainly when I look back, year-to-year. My junior and senior year were predominantly the same group of friends. My junior year I was dating one of that group, senior year I wasn't. So my time was spent between that old group and my new boyfriend. I realize now that my actions again stemmed from a fundamental lack of confidence in who I was and feelings of inadequacy in terms of my intimate relationships. I poured myself into those relationships, at the expense of my plutonic ones, because of this insecurity.

I often found (and still find) myself wondering what I did wrong to go through 4 years of high school, and 4 years of college, the "best" years, with very little to show for it in terms of relationships. It wasn't until recently, maybe even getting that reunion letter, that I think I understand why. While both of those times were happy enough for me, it's got everything to do with the me now not loving or wanting to be identified with the me then. I'm embarrassed at the way, or the lack of the way, I fought for relationships back then. For my lack of confidence. I think subconsciously, being around those people and those memories brings me back to that version of me.

I honestly wouldn't self-identify as confident, or comfortable in who I am, until early 2010. I don't feel like the same person that I was in high school. OK that's a lie, I think my personality is largely the same, but it's blossomed. I pursued a career choice that gave me extremely higher levels of confidence and found a partner that never knew the "dorkier" (I'm absolutely still a dork) or less confident version of myself. He's helped me by letting me be the version of myself I always wanted to be.

Jury's out on whether I'll attend the reunion. If I do go, it won't be to prove anything to anyone. It may be to redeem, in some small way, the way I feel about those 4 fleeting years and the 2005 version of myself.


7 comments:

  1. Yes!! I have a post in my head that I can't quite write yet about how middle school sucks, high school isn't much better, college was messy fun, but life is best after all those cliques. I'm from a small school so if there's a 10 year reunion and I don't have a really good friend's wedding that same day, I will be there. Also, while I may have been considered one of the popular kids (which was silly as there were under 100 of us and most of us went to preschool together) I had many moments of feeling left out. Recently I've reconnected with a friend from middle school/high school but it was through following each other on Facebook and instagram that helped us connect, and its taken over a year to get to where we now hang out regularly, but it is so good, we are in different places now than we were then, and who knows? Maybe a new friendship will come out of going, but if it doesn't feel right, that's okay too!

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  2. Some of this I don't identify with but this part struck a chord with me - a big one: "I often found (and still find) myself wondering what I did wrong to go through 4 years of high school, and 4 years of college, the "best" years, with very little to show for it in terms of relationships."

    Like you, college was fine/fun, I got to do some cool things, really grow, travel, learn a lot about myself etc. Same for high school, I made some good memories, navigated the waters, had some neat experience. But I walked about with very few relationships that are strong today. I have a core group of 4-6 friends from high school that I see a few times a year and chat/email/text with regularly. We make an effort to keep up with each other. From college... I have 1. 1 person! Sometimes, I look back and wonder wth I was doing then and why didn't I come away from those 8 years with more relationships, more friends, etc.

    But, right now, I think it's because I sought out (probably subconsciously...) quality. People who really "got" me, who made it through the ups and downs, and people who (although this is rare in my small group) you don't speak with for 6 months but can immediately pick up where you left off, close as ever. I think I didn't "collect" any more because they didn't fit into my life and couldn't transcend time - from high school to now. And like you -- "I think subconsciously, being around those people and those memories brings me back to that version of me." Seeing people outside my small group - be it a reunion, on facebook, at bars when we're home visit, I feel myself slip back into who I was in high school, which isn't bad necessary, but just someone I don't identify with much anymore. I've taken the good parts of me from back then and moved on and it can just be uncomfortable to feel yourself get dragged back to that place.

    I think that's the key to all this, really. To acknowledge that's who you were back then, you did what you did and it's past, you've moved on, you've grown. You can't do anything but love you 15 year old self - flaws and all. Sure, maybe back then she wasn't who you wished you were... but you have an entire life time ahead of you to still become that person. :)

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  3. You are not alone in your feelings. I had almost the same experience as you did and sometimes I have a hard time accepting it and other times I realize it was meant to be. I too rarely talk to anyone from high school yet when I was actually IN high school had plenty of fun and friends and things to do. Then college came and I also only have ONE friend to show from it all. I blame most of it on the fact that I spent my first year in a long distance relationship (aka on the phone or Skype) and then moved in with said boyfriend the following year. But the thing that I've learned from it all is that the people who are currently my friends, from whatever stage of life they started, are meant to be. And everyone else was meant to cross into my life and then go another way. But sometimes even knowing that doesn't help with the "I want more friends" feelings.

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  4. As the other commenters above noted, you are certainly not alone in your feels. I always had friends, but I was never quite "cool" enough. My parents couldn't afford to get me Vans or clothes from Aeropostale, so I frequently had to wear the fakes. Social suicide. I wish I couldn't say I didn't take great pride to see how some of the more popular people turned out in the end (ie- losers), but the older I get, the less I care. College was most definitely a more memorable, intergral part of my life. I know a lot of people who say they would love to go back to high school, and I can't think of anything worse. I didn't attend my 10 year reunion, and I can't say I was all that upset about missing it.

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  5. Can I second this: "I often found (and still find) myself wondering what I did wrong to go through 4 years of high school, and 4 years of college, the "best" years, with very little to show for it in terms of relationships."?!

    My gosh. I am only good friends with a handful of people from high school, and almost even less from college. I have no girl friends (except a handful in Texas) with whom I can go out for happy hour and have a long talk over something hilarious we did in college, because it just doesn't happen. There's no Sex and the City group of ladies who have followed my dating antics in college, or even anybody from high school that I want to talk to on a regular basis (except for one woman who lives in southern WA and I haven't seen in years but we still talk). How do people make friends as adults?

    Regardless, my HS reunion was last summer but I was still in Texas, and I heard about it. The people that went to the bar night said that it was just like "reliving their college years" together, because everybody stayed here and went to college. Those that opted for the next day family picnic said it was lame because nobody had anything in common. Can't say I was sad I missed it, and can't say I even want to.

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    1. Also, I still don't feel cool. At all.

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  6. This post has been in my reader for weeks because I felt too lazy to respond... but I felt myself really feeling like I needed to, because I am (ugh) going to my 10 year reunion this summer, and it's just... weird.

    Honestly, I think this will likely be the only reunion I go to - or at least for a long while. I have exactly 3 great friends from high school, and I see them as much as I can.... and that's about as far as I need it to go. I don't need to, like, avenge my former loser high school self, and I just really truly don't care. Yes, there are times I can stalk the shit out of some random person on facebook... but it's just filler.

    Blah. I just can't believe I'm 10 years out of high school. There are days when I still feel 21 and totally clueless.

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