Why I’m Going to My 20th High School Reunion

My 20th high school reunion is coming up soon. Tony and I are planning to attend, along with, I think, about a third of our class. It’s going to be a laid back meet up at a local club with drinks, appetizers and music. The after party will probably be whatever bar my friends and I decide to walk to afterwards.

Without hesitation, I’m looking forward to it. If you recall, Tony and I are high school sweethearts, so it’s his reunion too. He’s less enthusiastic, but that’s just because he’s less than enthusiastic about any event that involves mingling with lots of people and making small talk.

When talk of high school reunions come up, people tend to have very strong feelings, Either “Hey, it would be fun to see people again and learn what everyone is up to these days!” or “Those were the worst four years of my life. Why would I want to spend more time with those people?” I’m in the former category; maybe because I try to be optimistic, am extroverted, or because I’m inclined to be nostalgic. I have generally fond memories of high school despite all the usual teen angst and plethora of “mortifying” experiences that are the hallmark of adolescence.

Through out high school,  I experienced bullying, never dated until the end of my junior year and I believed that most of my classmates considered me ugly, socially awkward and weird.  By my senior year, I was a bit more comfortable in my own skin, I had a close-knit group of friends (the types of kids I would let my own children hang around today) and generally was able to care a little bit less about what everyone thought of me. One yearbook photo shows me in the mascot costume (Comet Man with what appeared to be a giant Cheeto on my head) and in another, rocking a pair of loud vintage bell bottoms and a tie dyed baby doll t-shirt. But I was hardly confident or close to being a homecoming or prom queen. I did well in my chosen clubs and classes but I was not athletic and my grades weren’t so good I merited academic notice. There were no titles (Best Looking, Funniest, Friendliest, etc)  under my name. I was just Kelly; an average girl from the class of ’96.

Maybe I’m just curious, or maybe I want to show off how handsome my husband looks after all these years, or maybe, more than anything, I’m curious to see how much life has changed these people who, like me, probably had very different ideas about their future. Will those people who picked on me still be rude? Will anyone remember me? Do I now have things in common with people who seemed my polar opposite back in the day? Life has not always been kind to me; who else has been a fighter, a survivor?

Looking at my life today, it’s pretty much the exact opposite of what I thought I wanted 20 years ago. But, of course, despite all the trials I’ve faced personally and in my married life, I’m a much happier, and wiser, person than then. There’s very little I would change, and I have to admit that it’s the rough patches in my life that have strengthened me the most.

But I’m not famous, I haven’t travelled the world extensively, I’m not “stinkingly rich and a God to home shoppers everywhere” as I set out to do in my senior description. I’m a homeschooling mom. And maybe that doesn’t sound very impressive. Maybe some people or some past teachers and professors would see a life wasted on diapers and school work and house keeping but I honestly do. not. even. care. I’m prepared to go and prattle on about my children and blog as much as my classmates who now run companies, work in prestigious fields with fancy titles, are stinkingly rich, and who vacation every year in a different exotic location. (This is your warning classmates.) My ordinary life has made me exceptionally happy. Everyone’s accomplishments will look different, but they’re all important enough to share and celebrate. (In other words: a 20th reunion is not a pissing contest.)

I have no hesitation of attending due to old high school trauma, and I feel genuinely sorry for anyone who is still licking wounds 20 years later. Let me tell you, that grudge you’re carrying is only hurting you. I have better things to do than wonder why someone who couldn’t give me the time of day ages ago, now wants to talk. Great! Let’s talk! We all occasionally acted like jerks in high school; let’s start with a clean slate shall we?

Really, are there any 37-38 year olds out there who act as stupid as 17 and 18 year olds? I can’t imagine. And if there are, they deserve my prayers and pity more than any pent-up anger.  You come at me with insults about my clothes, hair or something I did 20+ years ago and I won’t be running to the lady’s room in tears, my cheap Wet N’ Wild make up running and smearing on my cheeks. I think I will laugh in your face and tell you to grow up. Is there anyone else who wouldn’t do the same thing? Life is too short and has too many actual problems to allow insults from people you never see get you down.

I must admit though to picking on people myself in high school, usually because I felt insecure or wanted to be the center of attention at someone else’s expense. I hope no one stays away because of me. I hope no one has held anger towards me all these years and will deny themselves a night of fun because I might be there and say something hurtful. I’m much quicker with a joke at my expense these days (I have five kids, seriously, where do I start?) and even quicker to admit my failings, wrong doings and apologize.

It’s actually much more likely I’ll do or say something incredibly weird/ awkward and distance classmates  that way. …because some things never change. I’ve just accepted/ embraced it. (For reference see every humor post on this blog, particularly those with pictures.)

So, that’s why I’m going, and I guess it’s my argument in favor of why you should consider going to your high school reunion when the time comes too. Have you attended any of your high school reunions? Why or why not?




  1. I left high school with pretty severe PTSD and spent most of college in therapy recovering from it so it’s unlikely that I’ll attend my 20th high school reunion in a couple years.

  2. So glad you wrote this! My 20 year reunion is this summer, too, and I’m trying to decide whether or not to go. I’m leaning against it.

  3. My hubby and I (high school sweethearts too!) went to our 10-year reunion last summer, and as an introvert I have to admit I probably wouldn’t have gone if my hubby had gone to a different school. I didn’t particularly care for high school, but I did get along with everyone and had a few people I wanted to see again. It was so funny talking to everyone else there – EVERYONE almost didn’t go. I think feeling weird about it is normal, even if you were a cool kid!

    But my reunion was fun, I’m glad I went, so did everyone else, and now I wouldn’t hesitate going to my 20-year one!

  4. I grew up in Boise, Idaho and graduated in the mid 80’s in a class of 600. I was one of those people who was one level below the popular kids. Wanted to be popular desperately, but that involved having money, that my family just didn’t have. So I went to my 10th at the country club, to my 20th at a hotel and had an “ok” time, but nothing spectacular. Something “weird” happened after that – the internet came into its own. For our 30th, we had a Facebook group. One day, one of the reunion staff posted that they were looking for a location and wanted to know our opinions. And while I had been firmly convinced since 8th grade that nobody in that upper echelon really cared about my opinion, I went ahead and gave it anyway. It involved NOT the country club, NOT the hotel, just somewhere I could see my few friends. Pretty soon, more and more people started chiming in and they felt the same way.
    It’s like that opened up the floodgates and pretty soon, people posted about why they didn’t want to go (mostly being persecuted in high school) and other people started encouraging them. Our posts turned into talking about the high school experience and we found out that even the popular kids had a hard time emotionally. By the time the reunion rolled around, we had somehow all bonded over FB and that reunion, in its simplicity, was the best thing for us all. We even threw around the idea of having a 35th reunion because we didn’t want to wait another 10 years to all get together. It was the most amazing thing ever. I can’t believe it took us 30 years to move beyond HS but it was so worth it!


  5. Our class of 500 people would have had our 20th high school reunion 4 years ago. It was cancelled for lack of interest. That might make us the Slacker McSlackersons of the Gen-Xers.

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