I attended my 10 year high school reunion last weekend. SO. WEIRD.
Listen, I know 28 isn’t “old” or anything, but I’m allowed to freak out a little bit over how quickly the last 10 years flew by. I can also freak out a little bit after hearing my classmates say that I still look the exact same as I did in high school, because that’s downright terrifying. I am pretty sure I looked like a disaster high school. This doesn’t help my recent fear that I’m completely delusional about the way I look and the things I’m “good at.” All of my confidence has really been put to the test lately, both from crazy strangers with bad intentions, and also through random moments of rejection. WHAT IS HAPPENING. Is my life one big bad American Idol audition?? Do I need a Simon Cowell in my life??
I’ll recover soon, I promise. But if I seriously look the same as I did in high school, there is a serious problem.
The 10 year reunion was actually way more fun than I predicted. My best friend flew in from NYC (black and green dress in the prom pic), which helped, because heaven knows I wasn’t about to roll up to this event alone.** For whatever reason, we were irrationally nervous as we drove up to the venue, which also happened to be the same place I had my rehearsal dinner. Despite discussing the very real option of turning my car around, the valet guy showed up just in time for us to have no choice but commit.
**Not only did my husband miss my reunion, but we’ve been invited to 8 (EIGHT) weddings this year, and he will make it to exactly 1 (ONE). He’s only gone half the year! These stats do not add up when following the normal rules of probability. RUDE, Coast Guard. Rude.
Here are a few things I learned about what happens after high school:
1. Everyone’s about 10 pounds heavier, but in a good way
I totally don’t mean this to be critical. But everyone has filled out. The naturally skinny girls are still small, but they have curves. The curvy girls are curvier. The average girls (hi!) are still normal-sized. The guys all look like they ate their high school selves. Not fat or anything, but they’re, like, men. It’s SO STRANGE.
2. Guys look completely different, while girls look generally the same
This is similar to number 1, but goes beyond body mass. The girls all are way better at doing their makeup now, and for the most part, dress way more conservatively than they did in high school, but they were all very easily recognizable. I recognized like, three guys. The rest were vague caricatures of their former selves. First of all: Holy facial hair. Second: Why are you so tall. Third: How did you get so attractive. Third.2: How did you digress so much. I mean, seriously, the name tags saved my life.
Obviously, I’ve known that guys in their late twenties look way different than they did in high school since half of them barely hit puberty before graduation, but the shock factor was so real. I saw pictures of my husband in high school– even college– and he looks like a different [way hotter] person. So, like I said, this isn’t new news. But being surrounded by so many guys at one time who’ve morphed into completely different human beings was mildly unsettling. Like, they’re dads. I even saw a Hawaiian shirt. WHAT.
3. You feel weirdly proud of the people who are doctors now
About 25% of people– if that– have figured out what they’re doing with their lives by now. More on that later in this list. But for those few success stories, you feel really proud. I know a guy who performs surgery. Okay, I already know plenty of doctors in life, but seeing someone who used to be a mousy ball of nerves now sport a solid haircut and talk about the O.R. is a different level of “good job.” You did it. You won at life. I know how far you’ve come, and I’m honestly so happy for you.
4. Everyone is way way nicer
General personalities are the same. Intense people are still intense. Quiet people are still quiet. Awkward people are still awkward (again, hello!). But generally, everyone has lost that air of judgment. It’s so nice. Everyone smiled, said hi, and seemed genuinely pleased to see you.
This actually leads perfectly into #5…
5. More people remember you than you think
I thought people only knew me as the girl who sang the National Anthem at pep rallies. And that’s kind of true. A lot of people brought that up. I guess there are worse ways to be remembered. But I was very surprised at the number of people who genuinely remembered me. I didn’t party or socialize much, so I figured all those kids I saw interacting in the hallways would quickly forget my name after a year or two. Instead, so many of them started conversations with me that made me think we were on cooler terms than I’d remembered. That, or they’ve done a lot of Facebook stalking.
6. Facebook makes conversations really funny
Speaking of, yeah, most people already know what’s going on in your life via Facebook. I was floored by the number of people who said they read my blog (shout out to Abby and Chelsea) and/or asked about my husband. I tried not to reveal to too many people that I know a strange amount about their lives based on Facebook, as well, but you can’t help but use that as a conversation starter. So…saw that you’re in law school! Saw that you really enjoy brunch! How’s that girl you just started dating? Samantha, is it?
However, I will say that I knew suprisingly little about a lot of people I’m friends with on Facebook (even though I feel like I know a fair amount), which means that– SHOCKER– Facebook isn’t actually a great way to keep up with people. You have to actually, like, talk to them. You’ll find out some interesting stuff.
7. No matter how old you get, nobody ever knows what to do with their hands
Naturally, the reunion was at a brewery so that everyone could hold a beer. Even still, the look of panic on someone’s face when they weren’t holding a glass was classic. That goes for me, as well. I was DDing, so all I had was a single beer, but I still held a second one for fear of talking too much with my hands, or going in for a friendly bicep squeeze out of nervousness and then being labeled that military wife who picks up guys at her high school reunion. Despite the fact that my hands were occupied to downplay my awkwardness, I did at one point resort to saying that I invented Post-It notes. Unclear if the person got the reference.
8. People’s lives have changed just as much as yours has
You know how you’ve gone through terrible breakups, changed jobs 64 times, fallen asleep on the Subway, experienced a tragedy, and learned how to french braid your hair? So has everyone else. Especially the people who had to get a babysitter just to come to the reunion. They’ve birthed children. Three times. So much has happened in the last 10 years, but not just to you. Wait, so you’re saying I’m not the center of the universe??
9. There’s no such thing as “popular” once you’re out of school
I won’t say that the “popular” kids are now all drunks who work part time at Best Buy (no hate on Best Buy), because plenty of them are doing just fine. But rank just doesn’t exist anymore. If you smile and are able to hold a conversation, that’s pretty much the extent of people being willing to talk to you. I looked around the room and noticed that tons of friend groups merged in conversation, which also reveals that certain people were probably friends with people you didn’t know they were even friends with back then. Basically, our entire view of the world and our classmates in high school was fabricated in our minds.
10. Most people are still figuring out their lives at age 28, so you’re good.
Like I mentioned earlier, only about a quarter of the people I talked to had any idea what they were doing with their lives, career-wise. Lots had just changed direction completely, either going back to school to pursue something completely different, or recently deciding to start their own business, or unhappy with what they’re doing right now but trying to figure out their next move. Some are on a pretty steady path, but not many. Woo hoo! I’m not alone! What. A. Great. Feeling.
There ya go. I hope those of you who’ve not yet reunited with all those randos you kind of remember from high school are feeling pretty good about life after reading this. High school is not a reflection of real life. You’re doing just fine, I promise. Also this: Most people are really nice, which is such a pleasant reminder that maturity is a beautiful thing.