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Some of us can’t wait to get back together now that pandemic protocols are falling away. Others of us, not so much.
Whatever we’re feeling about gathering again, it might be amplified by the notion of gathering with people we haven’t seen in ten years. Or … fifty.
I’m on the planning team for my 50th reunion. Which is happening 51 years after our graduation from Glenbrook South High School. COVID 19 put the kibosh on the celebration we should have had in 2020.
Responses to the whole idea of being together are fascinating.
Some of us are eager. The big weekend is months away and they’re already making airline reservations and plans with their old friends. They can’t wait to reconnect after all these years, hear what everyone’s been up to and share pictures of their grandkids.
Some of us are uneasy. It’ll be a lot of people. I might not remember some of them. Or they might not remember me. Or worse yet, they will remember me and that embarrassing episode in the school cafeteria. (Or the gym, or the history class, or whatever. Who didn’t have an embarrassing episode in high school?)
Plus, there’s the corona-concern—maybe they’re not all vaccinated? Will there be hugging? Would I look silly if I wore a mask?
Some are a flat no. They hated high school. Or maybe they just left and never looked back…and they don’t want to look back now.
This arrived in my inbox, from a Facebook friend whom I’ve known since not just high school, but grade school. And who is not coming to the reunion. “Since I’ve not been a part of anyone’s history, I just thought I’d feel very out of place which would make me sad.”
That made me sad.
It also made me ponder how differently individuals respond to these opportunities to reconnect with people from the past.
I’m in the “eager” category.
It makes no sense when you think about it. I was what we could charitably call “socially awkward” in high school. You remember the type—good grades, bad social life. Not nearly pretty enough.
I had, I don’t know, maybe half a dozen dates in four years? (I later swore that Janis Ian was right: “Love was meant for beauty queens.”) I went to one high school dance. Naturally, it was the turnabout dance—I had to ask him. It was excruciating.
I was exactly the sort, in other words, who might not rush to spend an evening with those people who were disinterested or even derisive all those years ago.
And yet, I’ve attended every Class of ’70 reunion, had a hand in planning most of them, and enjoyed all of them.
Huh. What’s that about?
A few thoughts about reconnecting.
Whether it’s going to a reunion, meeting up with long-ago colleagues, or even seeing people in person for the first time since early 2020, there seems to be a mindset component to gathering again.
I’ve been pondering my own reunion reactions and other people’s points of view. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.
Curiosity is a huge motivator.
I am dying to hear what people are up to. What they’ve accomplished along the way. Where they’ve lived, what they’ve done for fun, what kind of careers they’ve had. It all fascinates me.
Yes, some of those questions are answered in Facebook posts or the occasional Christmas card. It’s not the same as conversation. I really like talking with people, including people who were in my math class sophomore year.
Of course, I find it gratifying when someone is equally interested in me. As you might guess, not everyone is. Some folks will yammer on about themselves without ever asking the first question about me or my experience or where I’m headed from here.
My internal reaction? “Next!”
(I should probably hand them a business card and invite them to sign up for my newsletter so they can become better communicators.)
Staying curious heads off negativity, and not just when it comes to class reunions.
I’m pretty comfortable with who I am.
Of course, there are things left to learn, mistakes I regret, habits I should definitely change. You’d probably say the same – none of us is perfect.
On balance though, there’s a lot in my life to make me feel good. I’ve had my share of professional success. One great career wrapped up, plus speaking and coaching I continue to enjoy even as many of my contemporaries are calling it a day.
I have rich relationships with friends and family. Frank and I will celebrate our 30th anniversary soon; we’re still happy together.
And I’m way more accepting of myself, foibles and all, than I was as an adolescent. Or even a young adult. I long since stopped cringing when I look in a mirror.
I’m grounded in the present.
Not that I’m oblivious to the past—I just provided a peek at it, didn’t I? I do try, however, not to drag it around with me all the time.
And of course, I’m aware of the future out ahead of me, although my financial adviser would tell you a little more awareness would be a fine thing.
My frame of reference, though, is mostly here and now. So, when I think about getting together with people I haven’t seen in years, I’m not caught in the party they didn’t invite me to (although it was painful).
I’m also not focused on whether we’ll become fast friends and stay in touch after the reunion (although that might be welcome).
You know I think our physical body is the key to being present and being in the present. When I stay connected to my own physicality, I’m not caught in thoughts about high school happenings or the feelings they created.
Instead, I’m right here, right now, appreciating this moment for what it is. And, okay, sometimes for what it isn’t.
If you’re feeling reluctant about getting together again, you might experiment with getting curious and getting present.
Maybe you have thoughts of your own about gathering, or re-gathering, or high school reunions. Fill us in with a comment …