Should I go to my 10 year high school reunion?
June 26, 2012 4:19 PM   Subscribe

10 year high school reunion this weekend. Wasn't going to go, now have second thoughts. My life isn't great and have underachieved. Is it worth going to for curiosity?

The reunion is set up on facebook, so I have an idea who's attending. It takes place at a restaurant/cafe with a reasonable cover charge. Not too far away. There's a handful of people I'd like to see that don't live in my area (and some who do). There is also a high proportion (not majority) I don't know.

I don't have much going for me right now. I'm very much "in between things". There are ways I could skirt the "what are you up to" questions, but it could be mentally draining. I think going to a reunion may possibly derail/depress me more. However, I would like to see some faraway friends.
posted by lankford to Human Relations (30 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
As an anecdote, I stopped by mine earlier this year for about an hour, then made dinner plans with a few friends I'm regularly in contact with. It was a good time, and not everyone has life figured out already, at least from my high school.

I say go and have some flexible plans for after!
posted by namesarehard at 4:23 PM on June 26, 2012

I am a total underachiever and I love reunions. I don't think anyone cares what you are up to really, and it is fun to see people. Being in high school and seeing people 10 or 20 years after graduation are two very different experiences. I think you should go and be genuinely interested in what other people are doing, and just leave if you get bored.
posted by katinka-katinka at 4:27 PM on June 26, 2012

Oh, and if it's a concern, at least a dozen people openly mentioned they're living at home. Probably many more than that didn't. It's a crappy economic climate we were ejected into.
posted by namesarehard at 4:28 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd say you're probably more likely to regret not going, as long as it's not too expensive. I've been to several reunions and they never went according to expectations; I've spent time with people I didn't think I liked that much or didn't even remember, and really enjoyed it. One person who seemed nice at school had apparently turned into a total jerk, which was a little depressing but what are you going to do? Don't sweat being asked what you're doing; just make up a plausible and somewhat true one-liner.
posted by BibiRose at 4:32 PM on June 26, 2012

People who ask, "what are you doing now" are really just trying to make conversation. If you dread the question you could smile and say, "Professionally, I'm underachieving" and then mention something else.
posted by wryly at 4:37 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

In my experience, the best thing about the ten-year reunion is that people had, well, grown up.

Some folks got fat. Some went bald. Some still looked eighteen.

Some were still living at home. Some had kids. Some had come home from combat. We drank a few toasts to the ones that didn't.

But most importantly it struck me that we were, by and large, treating each other as men and women instead of as boys and girls. And that was worth a lot of trepidation and uneasiness that I went through ahead of time.

Almost everybody loves to talk about themselves; you won't have any trouble steering the conversation.
posted by Kakkerlak at 5:02 PM on June 26, 2012 [9 favorites]

My 10-year reunion (seven months ago) wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, considering that high school was pretty hit-or-miss for me. I hung out mostly with the people I wanted to see, and ignored (and was ignored by) the ones I didn't. None of our conversations, even with the friends I did want to see, were very in-depth and when faced with a question I didn't want to answer (marriage/babies) I sort of shrugged and smiled and said "Eh, you know how it is. Complicated." And then promptly asked them a question about themselves. And after ten years, there's a lot for them to talk about.

One thing that I was surprised by, though, was how nice some people were. I was recognized and hugged by one of the 'popular' guys, one who I would have bet my life didn't even know my name when we were in school; some of the 'mean girls' were really quite friendly and normal now that we were out of that toxic hormone-driven environment. It was a relief after some mild-to-severe anxiety a few hours before the reunion during which I considered just bailing on the whole ordeal. In the end, I spent the majority of my time there with the same people I kept company with ten years ago, and I'm glad I went.
posted by alynnk at 5:12 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Went to and enjoyed by 10 year (and 20 yr) reunions. Unless you have some sort of running feud with someone who is planning to be there, I say go. Mine was so much more focused on the "remember when's..." than on the "What are you doing todays.." Some will want to talk about what you are doing now, but I would bet 99% of them recognize the twists and turns life takes and would simply offer help if told you were "between things".

At mine, it turned out the "hot girl" was actually the "lonely girl" as she said no one would ask her out in HS. She had gotten married right out of college and had had a disabled child that took all her focus. He was close to death several times and never would lead a normal life. My point is that high school kids grow up to be adults and for the most part will treat each other as long lost peers.

Fwiw, my brother met his wife (actually they had gone on one date that did not work out) at his 10 year college reunion.
posted by AugustWest at 5:27 PM on June 26, 2012

Go. God yes. I went to my five-year, and it kinda blew. Missed the ten-year, and missed a food fight and what was generally held as "a great time". Went to fifteen, and wound up discussing obscure beer with a former bully who I'd threatened to send home to his mommy in seven different satchels (thanks Elfquest).

Like Kakkerlak says, people grow up.
posted by notsnot at 5:34 PM on June 26, 2012

Go - and go positively.
View this as a business networking exercise. An opportunity to find your way.
posted by Flood at 5:39 PM on June 26, 2012

I had a great time that I really attribute to making a whole weekend out of visiting with friends. We got together the afternoon before, then met a a parent's house to show off our dresses and get the cameras out. It was Prom night all over again, in a good way.

Although the thing I remember most was an vague acquaintance crying in the bathroom about a guy. So, also like Prom night.
posted by saffry at 5:49 PM on June 26, 2012

This is not to say that you shouldn't go, but just as a data point, I felt a bit bummed about my life/myself at that point in my life, I skipped it, and I don't at all regret that.

My favorite aunt and uncle went to all of theirs, and their opinion is that you shouldn't bother before your 30th.
posted by emumimic at 5:50 PM on June 26, 2012

My ten-year reunion happened during the dotcom bubble (and I grew up in Silicon Valley), so there were lots of people there who were flat-out RICH, and at the time I was working at a video store. Didn't matter much. There were a few moments of drama and awkwardness, but still an okay time. Gravitate toward the folks you want to re-connect with and it will be fine. Fun, even.

One thing I should say as well - the ten-year was pretty good, but I LOVED my 20-year reunion. The pretense seemed to be stripped away even more, and at this point people were just happy to see their classmates alive and well. I wound up having a mini-reunion there with some people I had gone to kindergarten with and totally drifted away from in the subsequent years.
posted by queensissy at 5:50 PM on June 26, 2012

Yes, go. Seeing old friends and catching up will be worth it
posted by Fig at 6:17 PM on June 26, 2012

My ten-year reunion occurred in 1981. I didn't go. Despite the missed connections, I have a pretty great life. I don't really care to know about what's happening in the lives of people I no longer know.

The main reason people go to HS reunions is to make comparisons, and, as my grandmother said, "Never complain, never explain, and comparisons are odious."
posted by Short Attention Sp at 6:27 PM on June 26, 2012

For my class, 10 years wasn't enough time for people to truly grow into adults. Most people were fresh out of grad/professional school, weren't married, still looked more or less like they did at graduation, hadn't been ground down by life events, and were terribly interested in impressing each other. The 20 year reunion was totally different -- everyone had settled into their grownup personas, saw the event as a chance to reminisce and reconnect, and didn't really care at all about making comparisons. It was more about enjoying the company of people who knew you when you were young. Much less stressy.

tl;dr -- 10th might be unpleasant if you're concerned about how you stack up, 20th not so much.
posted by apparently at 6:34 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

One thing that I was surprised by, though, was how nice some people were. I was recognized and hugged by one of the 'popular' guys, one who I would have bet my life didn't even know my name when we were in school; some of the 'mean girls' were really quite friendly and normal now that we were out of that toxic hormone-driven environment.

Right, this. A high school reunion is like getting to meet the cast backstage after the play is over. "Oh, that's what the actual person is like who played that role....!" Extremely satisfying and psychically enriching. I couldn't make it to my 20th and I really regret it.
posted by escabeche at 7:04 PM on June 26, 2012 [6 favorites]

I just happened to be in town for my tenth reunion about six years ago and decided to go on a whim. I was freshly divorced, and had a good job, but nothing spectacular. I was curious and when my old best friend gave me a call, I agreed to go. The first night was at a hotel bar, the next day there was a picnic. I had no idea who'd be attending. I went under my own power, swore to myself I wouldn't have more than two drinks, and that I'd leave the party while I was still having fun. You know what? I'm glad I went.

I learned that nobody ever really knew me, and I didn't know them. Not that I didn't know that, but approaching it from a position where I could ask questions in a polite, adult and respectful manner was pretty great. I'd grown enough to ask good questions, and to read people.

Pre-Facebook, it really was a mystery how these people would turn out. The friends I was close with I stayed in touch with, the rest fell by the wayside. But that night I learned that the most popular, gorgeous girl always admired my creativity and independent spirit, when I'd spent years feeling like such a "dog". The sports hero crashed the fancy car he got from his parents and lost his scholarship along with the DWI. The 1987 Valedictorian married 1986's Valedictorian right out of high school and they joined the Marines and became doctors and have a big family (still over-achievers!). One friend had been hit by a car and suffered a brain injury. My favourite theatre guy became a muscle-y paramedic with a great motorcycle, and took the girl he always had a crush on for a ride. The least likely person from high school to ever dress provocatively did just that. And the guy I wanted to apologize to for being mean to him when he expressed his crush on me back then was to busy being successful and enjoying his lovely wife and great kids to attend.

Since then, Facebook has assuaged my curiosity. I didn't attend the fifteenth, but I understand that some unhappy people were still unhappy and behaved badly. The people who were satisfied with attending the tenth didn't attend.

I look forward to the twentieth - I'll pop in, and just be glad to see people still around. I'd say go, because it's not about you - it's about them. Go and be curious and fun -- and don't let however they are be any measure of the person you are.
posted by peagood at 7:54 PM on June 26, 2012

My father says that no reunion before your 20th is worth a damn.

John Cusack went to his 10-year reunion at the time he was doing Grosse Point Blank and told a reporter that the experience "was like The Great Gatsby on acid".

The truth is somewhere in between, I think - some people may still be clinging to the same personae they did when they were in high school, but ten years' extra time is going to make the whole thing really weird in ways you can't anticipate. If you're the kind of person who digs that, go for it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:13 PM on June 26, 2012

Meh. My 10-year reunion is in the coming year, and I'm probably not going to make it. I've basically been in school the entire time since I graduated and just am just now starting my first real job. Really, I've kept in touch with just about everyone from high school that I cared about, and Facebook with a few acquaintances. I'll make my 20-year more of a priority, but I don't think life has changed enough to make it worth spending my limited vacation time with people I didn't really care about.

If you don't want to go, don't go and don't feel bad about it.
posted by honeybee413 at 8:31 PM on June 26, 2012

I went to my 10th and skipped my 20th. Like anything else in life, if you're not having fun you can always leave - so if its pretty convenient to go, and it seems like it is - they why not? Luckily, reports from my 20th indicate that there will be no further reunions - everyone who wants to see each other does anyway.
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:03 PM on June 26, 2012

I don't know if you should go or not, but:

Most of my friends who have stables lives -- houses, permanent jobs, long-term partners -- always seem very interested in my underemployed/casual dating/trying to make ends meet lifestyle. They sometimes even seem just a little bit jealous. When we meet up, all they have to talk about is how they cleaned the shed last weekend, but I can talk about this crazy temp job I worked or this crazy woman I dated or this crazy interview I went on.

The people who have their lives "together" at their 10 year anniversary are often the most boring. You have a fighting chance at being the most interesting.

(Also, see The Tao of Steve for some motivation)
posted by no regrets, coyote at 11:25 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

My 10th was last year. I didn't go because, for one thing, I'm 2500 miles away and I'm a broke college student. But I also didn't care that much, and don't regret it. Most of them are on Facebook, after all.
posted by asciident at 11:36 PM on June 26, 2012

Going slightly against the tide but: you shouldn't treat this as an obligation. Don't go if you feel you have to go. And going because you might later regret no going? Is an equally weak reason.

But you've got these faraway friends that you'd like to see. That's a good reason. If you go, go for that reason. Don't go because you feel you should.
posted by outlier at 12:32 AM on June 27, 2012

I'd say it depends on how social of a person you were back then, and what kind of/how many friends you had in HS --- if you had some good, solid friends who might be at the reunion, go; if you were a loner, maybe not. On the other hand, the ten-year reunion is also the one where you'll have the most connection to your former classmates. The tenth is also the one that'll have the highest attendance: it'll drop off with each reunion to follow. (My HS class had 813 graduates; of that, over three hundred attended the tenth reunion, but only 18 went to the thirtieth.)

As a data point, I haven't gone to any of my HS reunions; I was badly bullied plus a something of a loner, and ten years later really had NO desire to party with the people who took such joy in making sure my life was as miserable as possible. At twenty and thirty years, I'd managed to leave that all in the distant past, but also had noted that even though I was always EXTREMELY easy to find (I haven't moved in many years, my somewhat-unusual name has never changed, and even my parents never moved until their deaths) not one single classmate was interested enough to even call.... My class's fortieth reunion will be coming up soon-ish, and no, I'm not going.
posted by easily confused at 3:08 AM on June 27, 2012

Everyone's an underachiever. If anyone's a douche or it's boring, you don't have to stay. But, if you really want to see your old friends, maybe give it a go.
posted by mleigh at 5:06 AM on June 27, 2012

I went to my 10 and I went to my 30. Had a great time at both. Of course I went to Riverdale High, and had a graduating class of 85.

You aren't your job. So just get over that. Is the reason to go to a reunion to lord a great job or date or whatever over other people? No. It's to see people you remember fondly and reconnect.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:16 AM on June 27, 2012

I went to my 10 year a month ago. It was fun, and here's the thing -- if yours isn't, you don't have to stay. You may do a lap around the room and think "this sucks, I'm outta here." And you can leave, because you're an adult. Hurray!
posted by craven_morhead at 8:10 AM on June 27, 2012

I went to my 10th because a friend begged me - I weighed 250 pounds (as a 5' 7" woman) and was temp-ing and generally Low. I expected to endure it, but instead found out that there were a lot of folks, especially those I'd known since elementary school but not talked to in high school, that were fun and that I was Thrilled to see doing well. I had a Surprisingly good time.

I also went to my 20th and was a little disappointed because I felt like I didn't recognize half the people there. It was still worth going for the few people I did have a nice chat with, including the guy who I'd been friends with in elementary school who died unexpectedly a few months later. I say go!
posted by ldthomps at 8:28 AM on June 27, 2012

I went to my ten year reunion this year, and at the time I was unemployed! People didn't really want to talk that much about what jobs everyone was doing (it definitely wasn't like in the movies haha!) beyond the initial polite questions. When people asked what I was doing I said I had been working in x field and am now looking to move into y field. I joked with some people that the guy who was working for Google and the guy with the successful business had already "won" the reunion so the pressure was off the rest of us. It was fun seeing people I hadn't seen for years and finding out what they enjoy doing now etc. It's pretty easy to just do the whole "so, Lisa, are you still into soccer?" type questions or ask where people live now etc and go from there.
posted by lifethatihavenotlivedyet at 8:23 PM on June 27, 2012

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