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Friday, March 23, 2012

Hall Pass? (March 23, 2012)

It’s coming. I’ve known it was coming for a while and I had mixed feelings, to be honest. I speak of my 20th high school reunion.

(Side note: I’m not even sure if I truly want to blog about this. I’m not as Bare It All in my blogging as my friend Ed is, and I’m not sure if this is a topic meant more for my own internal archeologist: sifting through the contents, discarding what is moot, and examining what may have meaning. But who knows? Maybe musing about this in public is even better. All humans have certain things in common and for many of us, reunions present a tricky juggle. Perhaps an honest chat about it is just what is needed…)

I’m always curious about why people (me included) feel what they feel. I’m also interested in what ties people together, uniting us despite all our many potential differences. Hesitation about reunions seems to be one of these nearly-universal issues. The numbers alone seem to suggest this. A small percentage of graduates go to reunions. Is this because the majority of the class doesn’t care to step back into those days, in any way? Obviously, some people live too far away to attend. (But Hubby’s classmate traveled overseas to attend their 20th, so distance isn’t always a
deal-breaker.) Others may not have the means to travel, can’t get the time off work, or are
recovering from surgery. But among those who live close enough to attend, and who have the time and ability, why do so few graduates go to reunions? Is it that high school can be a bittersweet memory? It was hard enough to get through those gawky years. Perhaps people don’t want to return to the scene of the crime. Is it fear of judgment? No one wants to be judged. I can relate to that. One reason I felt nervous about going to our reunion is because my career has hit a slow patch (and by slow patch I mean pot-holed, unpaved road covered with vines, filled with hidden quicksand patches. That kind of slow patch. Hey, I understand that people aren’t calling me to paint murals for them while everyone is feeling their way our of this recession. But it’s still hard on my ego!). Reunions will include a lot of conversations starting with this phrase: “What do you do?” It’s hard enough to be in a career slump without having to answer questions about it all night long.

About six months ago I hoped I could breath enough life into my career so that I’d have something good to say about it at the reunion. Well, at some point I decided not to waste too much energy on that. I decided instead to go anyway, and realized that being honest about my career slump could be a way to bond with others. Take the pressure of competition away and it’s easier to connect with people.

Somehow I found myself volunteering to email our class about the reunion. I’ve sent a few emails and several people are interested. I feel more excited. The connection with people from those days is playing louder than any doubts I had. Stay tuned.

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