Communication

My 10 Year High School Reunion: Life is Not a Series of Check Marks, And Yet…

Pin it

Since a hot, sticky and awkward May morning years ago, I’ve known this moment was coming.

My 10 year high school reunion.

I remember at age 15 or 16, when I was feeling particularly Taylor Swift about my high school experience, I pictured what my reunion would be like. I’d float in wearing a red dress, and charm them all with my successful career as a surgeon or a New York attorney (the fact that I hate the sight of blood and never had a desire to attend law school didn’t seem to factor into this fantasy), with some devastatingly attractive husband on my arm and notes about charming children at home. As an awkward girl who just didn’t fit into her life at a small New Hampshire school, these fantasies were what kept going during those miserable and melodramatic adolescent days.

When I left high school, the concept I had for my 10 year plan changed. I met amazing people in college and had adventures in cities and places around the world. I fell in love. I fell out of love. I made friends that I’ll keep for the rest of my life. I’ve challenged and pushed myself until I thought I’d break. I’ve found kinds of happiness I didn’t know I could expect. My life is nothing like the one that 15-year-old girl pictured, but there isn’t a part of it that I’d change.

Cue the arrival of the reunion initiation. In the age of Facebook, the schadenfraude aspect of the reunion is lost. I know who went bald, who got fat, who brings babies to bars and who turned out relatively okay. There isn’t a need to attend a physical reunion, because every time I log into Facebook, it’s a virtual one.

But when that invitation came in the mail, it gave me pause. Yes, I’ve done my best to stop looking at life as a series of check-marks, but a high school reunion is one of the key points in life where we’re forced to look back at the last 10 years and try and sum it up in a way that is palpable to relative strangers. And explaining that I’m single and childless at 28 probably seems like some sort of failure to those whose entire lives consist of the world they’ve created with their families. The fact the opinion of people I haven’t seen in 10 years still oddly matters to me is also rather horrifying.

As the day draws closer, I still don’t know if I’m willing to make the trek down and attend what will likely be one of the more awkward experiences of my adult life. There’s no Taylor Swift montage that will help me explain my life and my choices to people who honestly aren’t putting as much thought into me as I’m putting into them. I’m left again wishing I wasn’t going alone. Perhaps it’s to prove some stupid middle school point or perhaps it’s just because there’s strength in numbers.

The end of all of this being, I think, “How about we… attend my high school reunion?”


Joy Engel lives and works in Portland, Maine where she tweets far too much and solves the occasional murder-mystery while riding around on a bicycle. Everything she writes is her personal opinion and does not necessarily represent the views of her employer or its clients.