My twenty-year high school reunion was just a few days ago. Just typing that feels ridiculous. Twenty years since I walked out of school with that all important piece of paper that permitted me to never return again with a number that was meant to determine my future. It feels like a moment ago, certainly not 20 years!
A year ago, I had a gut feeling that I should get the wheel turning ever so slightly on arranging a potential reunion. After a quick phone call to my girlfriend to check I wasn’t crazy, she told me that if it was going to happen I could get it done. I took that little boost in confidence given to me by my oldest (she’s not old just the friendship) friend and created a Facebook reunion group. I added the girls (I went to an all-girls school) I was still in contact with and asked them to spread the word. I noted that the interest in the Facebook reunion page would be my guide if we should go ahead with a full-blown reunion. In 15 minutes we had 150 girls in the group, we only had 180 in our year level.
The reunion was not only on, but I was destined to pull it all together.
Mentioning to people that you are organising your twenty-year reunion they tend to give you a very odd look and it’s usually followed by some or all of the following “you’re brave, wow that’s incredible, I would never do that”. They implied that it was probably the hardest event to arrange and I was batshit crazy to attempt it. My experience was the complete opposite, so was my mindset.
One incredible thing I have learnt over the years is people are who they are. You must believe people when they show you who they really are. Having watched my children go through their early years at school and now heading quickly for their high school years. Who you are at a young age is fundamentally who you are as an adult. Yes, I understand that’s not an accurate assumption of everyone, but as a blanket rule, it rings true to many. That kid who was a snot at primary school is still a snot in high school, odds are they are still a piece of work as an adult.
Having been to school with some of these girls for a decade gave me an advantage, I had seen them day in and day out, I had seen them at their best and their worst. Of course, they had had the same experience with me. I had no concerns that we couldn’t get together and make it the best reunion imaginable. I was not going to go into it with the pre-conceived notion that anyone had changed. I created the entire build up/marketing of the reunion on the notion that I was dealing with all the same personalities I would have been 20 years ago.
Guess what it worked!
We had the highest number of girls attend a 20-year reunion on record for our school. The entire weekend went off without a hitch, it was hands down everything you would want out of a reunion. Everyone I expected to help, helped. Everyone who could go above and beyond did.
It was just fascinating to see everyone. The first 15 minutes everyone seemed to be a touch hesitant about seeing everyone. I know I heard a least a dozen times that nerves were getting the better of some girls. But by the end of the night, you would have thought we were back at school. The banter, jokes and nicknames were exactly the same as you would have heard up the corridors between Math and English class. There were some touchy moments when a few jabs were given, just enough to aid as a reminder that some memories were still raw, justified or not. This I think was expected.
Alcohol, good food, great lighting and beautiful Canberra weather made the reunion a once in a lifetime opportunity to laugh, reflect and appreciate all those years that we were thrust together.
The greatest takeaway for me, all the days, weeks, months and years that we had lived without each other had not diminished how much we all actually meant to each other. For me, I hadn’t missed school. Not for a moment. I kept in contact with the girls I was closest to. I had connected with many more only on social media, but only on social media. I was happy with this. Only until we were all together I then realised how important we all were to each other, even if it was just for a weekend.
School can be difficult, adolescence, relationships, finding yourself, studying, it’s a lot to handle. Getting out of that intense pressure cooker feels as if you have been set free. It’s understandable that we distance ourselves from the many. But time really does make some situations and relationships better, you forget the bad and remember the good. You are confident in who you are and what you bring to the table.
Since the reunion, I have felt happier in myself. After my kids were born I felt I had lost myself in motherhood, like so many women do. Over the years this has steadily gotten better. The reunion was just that last push I needed to remind myself that some things are never lost, who I was back then is fundamentally who I am now. I haven’t changed, and I wouldn’t want to. It also opened my eyes to the friendships of the past and the importance they hold to my future.
Time passes in a blink of an eye, a school reunion is a stark reminder of how time passes so quickly. Never will I look back on my school years with any regret or negative thoughts. Those years are fundamental to who I am today and who I will be moving forward.
Thanks, ladies for everything, I couldn’t imagine being in that pressure cooker all those years ago with anyone else. Thanks for the most amazing reunion and thank you for being you.