When I received an invitation to join the “Lawrence Central Class of 2002 Reunion” group on Facebook, I had mixed emotions. My first instinct was to decline the invitation.
It has only been 10 years since I graduated from high school – anyone I want to stay in contact with, I already do, and I know (probably too many) intimate details about everyone else thanks to Facebook. (Btw, my husband maintains Facebook has virtually eliminated the need for reunions.)
When a few of my girlfriends persisted in their demands we all attend, I caved. I must admit, I’m glad I did, though it was quite awkward at times. Based on my experience, here are 5 things I recommend doing…
1) Make sure you are comfortable with your outfit, make up, hair, etc.
This is not the time to try a new outfit. You want to be sure it fits and that you’ll be comfortable all night. These things are awkward enough without wardrobe malfunctions. I borrowed a rockin’ dress from my younger sister, Cassie, who has much better fashion sense than I do. It was from a hip little boutique, the kind of shop I feel too old to walk into, let alone make a purchase.
Also, my awesome friend Michelle who happens to be a make up artist, did my make up. I noticed I felt more comfortable knowing that someone else ok’d my look. I usually end up thinking I’ve over done my make up and wipe half of it off when I do it myself. It was neutral and natural, and I was very happy with it.
I also had the best accessory of all, my husband! He makes me feel comfortable and happy wherever we go. And what a trooper, to sit through an evening of chatter about things that happened years before we ever met.
2) Don’t make eye contact unless you are prepared to chat.
I made this mistake many times. I made eye contact and smiled at many of my former classmates, but being the introvert that I am, I couldn’t muster up the courage to go speak with most of them. Honestly, I can think of few things more excruciating than reintroducing myself to a bunch of people I half recognize. (Thank God for name tags!) It reminds me of networking events, which make me so nervous I get queasy.
Many of them did approach me, but I hope those who didn’t weren’t offended by my standoffish behavior. Had any of them approached me, I would have been happy to catch up. I seriously have initiating small talk phobia, if there is such a thing. I spent most of the evening talking with my husband and girlfriends I spend time with on a regular basis.
3) Get a ride or take a cab so you can enjoy a few cocktails.
These beverages were key in making this event both bearable and enjoyable for me. Just enough to help me relax. Be careful not to overdo it though; keep it classy. My girlfriend, Michelle (also the make up artist, what would I do without her that night?), drove us to the event, and my sister and her boyfriend generously picked us up.
4) Set realistic expectations.
There were a few friends I hadn’t seen in years, and I expected the reunion with those individuals to be glorious. Truth be told, it was hard for me to reconcile the older versions of these people with who they are today. 10 years is a long time and we’ve all grown and changed a lot. In many cases, the changes are good, but they can also be confusing. As an INFJ, I seek authenticity, and I had a tough time reading people because they had all changed so much. I think if I had gone into the situation with lower expectations, I wouldn’t have felt so ho-hum about these interactions after. Luckily, there were also some long lost friends I totally clicked with and it felt as if we didn’t miss a beat!
5) Leave your judgey eyes and mouth at home.
Some of my former classmates packed on 20 pounds, lost all of their hair, decided to get sloppy drunk, or just in general looked like they might be struggling through life. Many people were criticizing them with their words and stares, and I couldn’t help but wonder how much we had really evolved since high school.
Admittedly, it was shocking to see some of them look or behave this way, but I had to remind myself to respect everyone’s journey. We all take different paths. Some of them will definitely be added to my prayer box though.
Aside from the awkward conversations and music that was a bit too loud for me to hear people speak, I had a good time. That being said, I can see why reunions only happen once every ten years.