About a month ago I went to my twenty year high school reunion. I had hemmed and hawed about going right up until that week. I had chickened out on the ten-year reunion. Like many people, I was not exactly a cool kid in high school. Amongst the towns surrounding my own home town, we are known for being cruelly snobbish. So, not being a part of the “in crowd” seemed particularly harsh for some of us.
Looking back, it wasn’t so harsh. I wasn’t made fun of. No one told me they didn’t like me. There were a few people who I could sit with at lunch or during a free period. None the less, I had this feeling of not fitting in and that people didn’t like me. So why would I want to go to my reunion?
I seem to be at one of those points in life where I have to choose a direction. I can not be as aimless as I have been for the past few years. My recollections of high school and my current difficulty in making friends has been holding me back. I had to go to the reunion to let go of the past.
My childhood best friend went with me. (Neither of our husbands were interested in going.) We said hello to the people we had been friendly with. We waved to people we recognized. I shared bend over minimum contact hugs with some of the women. We had many quick conversations that went pretty much the same way. “What are you doing now? Do you have kids? Where do you live?”
After about an hour, my friend and I left to go have coffee and a real conversation to discuss the nitty-gritty of our lives. She asked me point-blank questions about my life with my husband (he has a mental illness) and listened sympathetically to the crap that goes along with being married to him. She smiled about the wonderful things that go along with being married to him. I did the same for her. Her life, like everyone’s, has not been all peaches and cream either.
Was the reunion a waste of time? No. It was just what I needed. Any fantasies I harbored about those people have vanished. They are all just like me – trying to work and support their families wherever they are and whatever career they have chosen. The nice guys are all married or gay. The women are mostly mothers who were glad to have an evening with adults and away from their kids.
This has freed me to realize why I didn’t have more friends back then and why I have so few now. I am a very closed person. Not just shy, but closed. I don’t tell very many people anything meaningful about myself. Anyone is welcome to the surface of me. But few people are welcome to the emotions and true thoughts within me. How can I expect anyone to want to spend a lot of time and bare their soul to me if I can’t reciprocate?
So, now what? Now, I grow up. I see what it takes to have a relationship and I see that I am a likeable person. It wasn’t my classmates not liking me. It was me not giving them a chance to find out if they liked me. Does this mean that I am going to overshare with everyone I meet now? Probably not. Opening a tightly locked gate is not easy. But I am utterly relieved to know that it was a locked gate within me and not people rejecting me for mean reasons. I wonder what I will learn about myself in another twently years?