Tell me how to high school reunion (30 yr)
February 10, 2017 1:55 PM   Subscribe

So high school wasn't great. Wasn't awful, I realize in retrospect, but seemed kind of awful at the time. No one was horrible to me, but I was only close to a very few people and only one of those was in my year. That one has invited me to our 30 year reunion and in a mid-life burst of social confidence I said I would go. I have been out of touch with these people since graduation day.

I am a person who generally avoids parties. Through great effort I have become great at small talk but it's still an effort. Need ideas for chit chat, ideally that get us past "so what do you do?"

Oh also, when looking at the "going" list on Facebook most of the names and pictures don't ring a bell. Need elegant ways to navigate "so who are you exactly?"

Um, also require scripts for not "living up to my potential". My life is blissfully happy but I was erm...well....valedictorian...... and the job I have now is decidedly working class. I love it, it's fun, it supports me and my family, and I'm home before my kids get home from school, but it's going to be a surprise to any one that remembers me as Hermione Granger.
posted by Jenny'sCricket to Human Relations (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
"blissfully happy" is really where most people wish they were. That said, I just missed my 30th because it was a little too far away and I'm already in touch with the people from then who I really liked and am not that curious. I know the valedictorian (from my class, we were friends then abnd friends now) and she is high achieving and miserable.

My usual thing for this is to think about a few things that have happened recently-ish that are good stories to talk about ("Our house was invaded by raccoons and you'll never believe how we got rid of them"), a few ways to extract yourself from bad conversations you don't want to be in ("Yeah I was never one for politics, can I get you another drink?"), a few anecdotes from the last thirty years ("Well after I got back from climbing macchu picchu I decided I wanted to settle down and just do something I enjoyed and now I'm really happy at the widget factory"

Mostly people are just either curious, gregarious or local and bored. Any of those types of people are fine to chitchat with for a few hours. Focus on small talk, focus on happy (esp happy family, without being too braggy) and bring a few pictures on your phone and wear something you feel looks awesome on you.
posted by jessamyn at 2:03 PM on February 10, 2017 [9 favorites]


My life is blissfully happy but I was erm...well....valedictorian...... and the job I have now is decidedly working class. I love it, it's fun, it supports me and my family, and I'm home before my kids get home from school, but it's going to be a surprise to any one that remembers me as Hermione Granger.

I was kind of in the same boat at my 20th high school reunion (the first one I attended). Not exactly "decidedly working class," but suffice to say my career went off in a very different direction than what I or anyone else would have expected when I graduated high school. People may be a little surprised, but trust me, no one will judge you negatively for this. Honestly, no one cares that much. If you're happy, people will be happy for you.

The other nice thing about a large group like that is that you don't have to talk to any one person for too long. There was only one person out of the group I was close with in high school at my 20th, and she couldn't stay for long, but I still managed to have a decent time because I could talk to one person or small group for five or ten minutes, move on to the next, rinse, repeat.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:26 PM on February 10, 2017 [3 favorites]


My high school experience sounds a whole lot like yours and I avoided reunions for years. I did end up going to my 20th, largely because one of my close friends had a life-threatening illness and basically ordered me to show up, and it was way more fun than I thought it would be.

Be yourself and know that that is amazing. That is what people are most interested in, especially this long out of school. The conversations I had were about our families, the best things that had happened to us, things we were passionate about. I would be super excited to hear about someone working in an unexpected field, especially if they were to tell me about how happy they are doing it. As to what it was like for me, I reconnected to a bunch of people I hadn't spoken to in years. I "met" people I'd apparently graduated with and had a really good time getting to know them. The people I hadn't cared much for back then weren't all that bad, but still weren't really my cup of tea. People I had really liked were still great and many of them had married really great people too. There were a few awkward moments, like an old friend telling me about the fresh break up of their marriage, or the guy who has gone a bit too far down the conspiracy track at this point. Like others have said, it ends up being little conversations it's easy to move away from, and hopefully some longer and more meaningful ones that will bring you some joy.
posted by goggie at 2:46 PM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


Like you I don't have many fond memories of my time in high school. I didn't suffer any awful bullying or anything, I just never felt comfortable. I was so happy to graduate and get the hell out of town. I avoided reunions forever because I just really did not care to reconnect with anyone and felt zero need to relive old times. But then a childhood friend (who also went to high school with me) talked me into going to our 35th reunion. All I can say about the evening is that I was having a fine time making small talk with people I didn't really remember, feeling extremely proud of my introverted self for engaging in conversation that included complete sentences when one of our class "mean girls" walked up to me and said (actually, more like ANNOUNCED) "I thought you became a nun!" How do you even respond to something that weird? I just stared at her for a moment, said "No," returned to the conversation I was in and left soon thereafter. So...... all this to say, HAVE FUN! It will be awkward and maybe at times uncomfortable, but afterwards you can say to yourself, "Well, I did it and now I need never do it again."
posted by pjsky at 5:29 PM on February 10, 2017 [5 favorites]


There was a time in my 20s where I thought I would always remember every single thing about high school, but now at 34 people on Facebook are often like "Remember in high school when we [xx]??" and I'm like "Uhh...no?". I thought my 10-year reunion would be terrible, but it was actually pretty fun to catch up with people. The people I used to hate seemed so innocuous for the most part. It's like you see them as their current-aged selves, but simultaneously you see teenage them too, and it takes away their power or something. If the valedictorian of my class was like "I am having the BEST TIME cutting hair/cleaning houses/delivering mail and my family is so cool and god if I could tell 17-year-old me what I was doing now I'd probably shit, but things are great, you know?!" I would think they were so awesome and down-to-earth and I would also probably go a lot easier on myself, which would be a nice thing your being there would do for people. Like I went to high school with people who are now published authors, living in Europe, so if one of the people I respected in school was like "Hey I'm regular too and it's pretty great", I'd feel so good.

Ok so, past "what do you do" you talk about literally anything! Vacations, hobbies, personal accomplishments, buying property, struggling since high school, people you know in common, etc etc. Feel free to get as nosy as you want--people will be flattered and it's always fun to listen.

For your second question, see if you can find a yearbook between now and then and try to refresh your memory. You don't have to remember everyone, and you can do like I do and let people come to you. Then you can just play along with a lot of laughing and "OH MY GOD I TOTALLY FORGOT"s. "Wait...didn't we have that class together?" will be endlessly useful.

And for the final, as I said above just be totally honest and NOT AT ALL self-deprecating. You have nothing to be ashamed of, or embarrassed about, or whatever. If you're happy then that's all any of us can ask for, and you're doing wonderfully. Anyone from high school who judges you for that is an asshole and their judgment means nothing to you, especially since you're happy.

Have fun!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 7:28 PM on February 10, 2017 [3 favorites]


I did this a few years ago, even posted to Mefi just like you and went because of the encouragement. One of our peer group passed away so my group of buds reached out to everyone they could find for a party and a get-together. It was pretty uncomfortable in a lot of ways, some of them just like your reason. I didn't follow anything like the career path that most of them did. I doubt I would ever go again to a function like that. Still, the same feelings were there, I was amazed at how little people change on a basic level despite not seeing them for almost 40 years. I appreciated them all as people I'm glad to have known, but don't see much reason to maintain the relationships now. I'm the outlier in a lot of ways so time to move on. I'm glad I went. The only advice I could give, dress up, look your best and don't get attached, weird stuff will probably happen. I couldn't remember going on a date with one woman, she abruptly left the conversation. Sigh....
posted by diode at 7:34 PM on February 10, 2017


I don't really "reune" but I went to my 20th with my best friend, similar reasons, and we really had a good time! We went to a casual pre-gathering with a few people we knew from a common extracurricular, and then to the reunion itself, and there were lots of people I didn't remember or hadn't really been friends with, but everyone was really nice and I had a good time! And it was only about four hours out of my life.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:19 PM on February 10, 2017


My wife and I went to our 40th year after graduation from HS I married my HS sweetheart after college.. I enjoyed the 4 close friends I had back then but 2 turned out to be pompous jackasses. I endured it. Never went to the 50th. But the 1,000 mile trip each way was fun.
posted by JayRwv at 8:38 PM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


All I can say about the evening is that I was having a fine time making small talk with people I didn't really remember, feeling extremely proud of my introverted self for engaging in conversation that included complete sentences when one of our class "mean girls" walked up to me and said (actually, more like ANNOUNCED) "I thought you became a nun!" How do you even respond to something that weird?
"Oh, wow, that's so crazy.. and I thought someone told me you had ODed! I guess you can't believe everything you hear.."
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:41 PM on February 10, 2017 [3 favorites]


My 20th was the first reunion I went to, and the only reason I went was that I knew a couple of friends that I hadn't seen in all that time were going. Unsurprisingly I spent pretty much the whole evening hanging out with them on the fringes, and it was delightful. As for everybody else, interactions were pretty shallow and superficial, but that's how it was in high school too, so it was as expected... pleasant and a little weird after all that time, but not uncomfortable.

Peoples' lives take such wildly divergent and unpredictable trajectories after high school that no reasonably well-adjusted person is going to be judging you for "not living up to potential." People will be interested to learn what you've been up to for 30 years, but mostly just happy to see you. Granted, I was not valedictorian... but I to be honest I couldn't even tell you who our valedictorian was or whether they were there. Knowing all of my own life's twists and turns I went into the event with zero preconceived notions about who was going to have achieved what, and I didn't pick up on any judgey/evaluatory vibes between anyone that night. (As for the "high school was the best time in my life" contingent, they were just happy to get falling down drunk and dance to the hits of the late 80's/early 90's together.)

On balance I am definitely glad I went; I reconnected with someone with whom I'd always regretted falling out of touch, and if nothing else it was fascinating to see how people had aged on the cusp of our forties. I'll go to my 25th if I know those particular friends will be there again.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 7:05 AM on February 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


My 30-year reunion was far more pleasant than the 20-year. I didn't go to the 10-year. The 20-year was still full of bullying and mean-girl/boy behavior, but the 30 was blissfully free of those things. One woman who I knew only as that one cute cheerleader in high school came up and profusely apologized for how she'd treated me in high school. I recall no bad treatment at her hands, but OK, apology accepted.

At the 30-year, I saw none of the stratification that was present even at the 20-year.
posted by chazlarson at 10:10 AM on February 12, 2017


Went to my 10th. Skipped the 20. Have no intentions of going to the 30, which I assume will be next summer.

Honestly, I didn't like 99% of those people in 1988.
posted by uberchet at 10:17 AM on February 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


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