High school reunion. Are you quaking in fear yet?
Let me back-peddle a bit.
I didn’t actually graduate from the high school. I went to high school for 4 years and from memory I hated every bit of it. So much so, that I looked back on it for years with embarrassment, hatred and…a big black hole in my memory…
I left high school at the end of year 11 because I was in a whole lot of trouble, I mixed with the ‘wrong’ crowd, I hated it, I was depressed, and, well, I wanted to drop out and do…something – which for the life of me I cannot remember what I wanted to do. Possible something ‘female’ such as ‘secretary’ – WOOH YEAH! (no offence to secretary’s).
Instead, my Mum took me to see some career councillors, and on being told I wouldn’t be able to get a job OR get into TAFE (the equivalent to Technical college), I was moved to a Senior Campus, where I studied with other almost-drop outs and mature age students. That’s where I also met my new self-destrucitve bestie – but that’s another story.
Well, the school transfer did the trick. I graduated top of the class in some units, and surprisingly got into university. SHIT! Not that I knew what to do…again, another story…
Anyway, I was ‘invited’ via Facebook to the 20 year high school reunion almost a year ago (because those who WOULD have graduated in 1994 were invited – and thank god for FACEBOOK!). To be honest, although I was probably all like ‘cool!’, deep down I was freaked out, nervous, and was thinking ‘like hell’…with a dash of curiosity…
Almost 12 months later, and a lot of trepidation, anxiety, self-doubt, belated teenage angst, and so forth, I found myself dressed, and rocking in the foetal position on the couch at 7pm – the minute the whole thing was about to start. I had responded a week previous as ‘yes’ on the proviso that D would drive me…and also due to some encouragement from my other Facebook friends, the consensus of which was ‘If you don’t go Janine, you will regret it!’.
So, foetal position, 1950’ish outfit – below the knee black pencil skirt, red top, curled locks, black tights, mary-janes, and bright red lippie…with the accompanying hyperventilation…
And that’s when D walked up to me, and simply said ‘Janine, it’s totally up to you. If you don’t feel comfortable, and you’ve obviously been stressed all week (oh by this stage he had piked on me…which I totally understand because why would you want to go to a high school reunion that WASNT yours! AWKWARD!) then don’t go!’
That was like waving a red flag in front of a bull…or in his case, a redhead…
And so 5 minutes later I was out the door, driving to the venue, prepping myself to make an entrance to a PUB by MYSELF. Thankfully I had been messaging my Mum for some pep talk and she was like ‘ So just go and even if you turn around in the carpark…’.
To be honest, I was prepared to have an anxiety attack in the carpark and come straight home…
But I didn’t.
I got out of the car.
I walked up to the bouncer in the springing rain.
I wasn’t asked for ID 🙁
And I walked right into that pub and the high school reunion.
I do believe I wanted to pee myself, my standard anxiety response.
But after saying hi to Jason, a very friendly soul, I walked straight to the bar for a drink – bubbles were a must (got the last drink on the tab!) and, as I gazed across the bar in fear, locked eyes with one of the old crew. One of my old besties. Kindred spirit. P. As she gazed back at me, our eyes sparkled, and…
Well, a few conversations later we were together, reminiscing, and playing ‘Guess Who’ (remember that game?! I loved that game!), as she so wittily described it. It was awesome. And I was reminded how much this person made me giggle chuckle, and belly laugh, as I apologised for my loud cackle I had developed since high school (because I HAD been quiet as a mouse you see!).’
God, I was so completely terrified to go to that goddamn reunion, and you know what – I am so glad I went. I enjoyed myself, went, conquered, chatted to people, and looked HOT (if I do say so myself).
Why you SHOULD go to your high school reunion
You know what, it turns out that I didn’t hate high school as much as I thought I did. It reminded me of some good stuff. It reminded me of the cliques. It made me realise that I wasn’t unforgettable – because I really thought I was. And it showed to me how far I have come, but also, that deep down, I’m still the same Nean – and that there’s nothing wrong with that as I was a frickin’ teenager back then – and man, aren’t we all fucked up then!
Seriously – and really, I’m being serious – that 20 year high school reunion was so cathartic! The fact that I didn’t blush in front of my teenage crush – whom I adored for many years and would always go a deep shade of beetroot red – oh, and I even talked to him, chatted to people, smiled, cackled, was the opposite of shy, and apparently ‘so much more stunning than in high school’…yes, I was an ugly duckling…with 90’s hair.
Well, reunion conquered, healing achieved, memories reinvigorated, new-old friendships reignited…and another chapter in life commenced.
Seriously – bullied, fat, shy, ugly duckling…whatever (and I was all of them…or thought so, at least) – go to your frickin’ reunion. Wear something outlandish like the colour red. Get your hair done. Rock in to it, be yourself, laugh, and just have fun! You aren’t 16 anymore – thank fucking god!
P.S. Be prepared to dig out your school photos/negatives after for a memory frenzy…I WILL finish scanning all of my negatives. And yes, that makes me feel old, but it also makes me feel AWESOME!