Reunion Anxiety“I’m not Josie Grossie anymore!!!”
That one line says it all for those of us who look back at high school with trepidation rather than fondness. For those of you who don’t recognize the line, it belongs to former misfit Josie Gellar who is sent back to high school as an undercover reporter in the romantic comedy Never Been Kissed.
As my twenty-fifth high school reunion looms ever closer, I wonder how many Wet Noodle Posse readers need to shout something similar. Josie and I can’t be the only ones out there experiencing post-traumatic stress from adolescence. I can’t be the only one bombarded with flashbacks of those less-than-stellar moments as the clock ticks toward that fateful day when I don my most flattering outfit and a name tag that includes a last name I shed years ago when I married my husband.
I should be excited rather than anxious, right? Think of the potential writing fodder! And I did, after all, send in my money and fulfill a promise I made to the friends from high school with whom I have kept in touch. You see, I missed the twentieth reunion and was harangued by those friends for months afterwards. I should look forward to attending. I’ll reconnect with people I liked that I haven’t seen in years, and, sure, I’m curious about how everyone’s aged. It’s a guilty pleasure we all indulge in. Is it wrong of me to hope there’s at least one person in attendance, other than me, who vowed to find her inner thin person before July but sadly never did? If there isn’t, will I win the award for attendee most in need of liposuction?
It’s not that I was tormented. I cleared that lovely hurdle in middle school with enough self-esteem issues that all I hoped for in high school was to be liked. We’re talking nicknames that I’m not willing to share with you and cartoon caricatures of my hairy knees. My mother, you see, was old school when it came to shaving, nothing removed knee or above, and I had to wear a uniform skirt. After the caricature incident, I disobeyed her shaving edicts, and haven’t been the butt of a cartoon joke since. . . as far as I know.
In high school, life got better for the most part. I earned good grades, rooted for the football team, worked on the homecoming floats, and ate lunch in the courtyard befitting my status in the high school hierarchy—upwardly mobile geek. But I still felt like a misfit, always worrying about what people thought of me, including some I called friends. I feared these friends talked about me behind my back, which they did on occasion. Of course, I pretended that I didn’t hear it or see it—because I wanted to be liked.
Senior year, I was no longer complacent. Hoping I’d achieve my goal of being universally liked, I did everything I could to fit in. I wore Army fatigues as was the Friday fad at our school. I joined the yearbook staff and made some new friends, one in particular became a life-long buddy. Love you, Heidi. I drove to the football games by myself and had a good time with the people sitting around me. I even summoned courage I didn’t know I had to ask a college boy of my acquaintance to the Homecoming Dance because I wasn’t graduating without ever attending a high school shindig. He said yes, but I was so shy I could barely talk to him all night. My self-esteem improved by leaps and bounds once I was accepted to the college of my choice. I looked forward to dorm-life and challenging coursework. I somehow knew I’d fit in there, even with my insecurities. I wasn’t sad graduation day, I was ecstatic.
So explain to me, why I am so freaked out about this reunion? I’ve surpassed the goals I set for myself at seventeen, and I’ve made many, many friends along the way, including the Noodlers. I should attend the reunion without any qualms. After all, I’m not Moron Byrnes anymore—not that there was anything wrong with her that a little life experience couldn’t cure.
Labels: high school reunions