This summer marked my twenty-fifth high school reunion. When the invitation arrived, my mind immediately drifted back to the days I strolled the halls of good ol’ Sacred Heart Academy, an all-girls high school. I was rather quiet in high school. I spent my nights and weekends babysitting and studying. I was voted “most studious” my senior year. One of the happiest days of my high school career was when I wore the traditional white gown and carried red roses down the aisle on graduation night. I moved onto college without a backward glance.
Flash forward twenty-five years and I decided to go to the reunion. The last time I went to a reunion, only ten years had passed and I don’t think I had enough distance yet from my teen years. At my twenty-five year reunion, I got reacquainted with women who were moms, pharmacists, professors, college department chairs, elementary principals, saleswomen, and physician assistants. I chatted with women who were funny, caring, interesting and a lot like me. Many of us laughed and wondered why we didn’t hang out in high school.
In high school, I was barely aware of who I was, yet I thought I knew who everyone else was. I imagine I wasn’t alone in my thinking considering all the teen-angst movies from Breakfast Club to Mean Girls. We pigeon-holed “the brains” and “the jocks” and “the popular girls” thinking the groups didn’t have anything in common. I know that’s what I thought. I rarely went outside my comfort zone to make friends with girls who had interests different than my own.
As we said our good-byes at the reunion, we promised not to wait five years to meet again. Maybe the passage of time or the maturity of being forty-something finally made us realize the labels we imposed on ourselves or others were completely one dimensional. Maturity allowed us to look beyond the differences to really get to know the person underneath.
I am so happy I attended my high school reunion this summer. Now, looking back, I can reframe my high school experience. My only regret is that I didn’t get to know more of these fantastic women twenty-five years ago.
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