Dothan High School Alumni -  Dothan, Alabama Help@DothanHighSchool.net


The High School Reunion
With every passing year comes yet another enduring adult ritual- the High School reunion. No doubt many of us have already been to at least one reunion, or are at least anticipating an official invitation to the next one. It is one of the few constants in an everchanging world- touching base with the one group of people you know have shared the same childhood experiences with you. For many, the experience of a High School reunion is a very positive and reaffirming one. Connections with long-lost friends are re-established, and notes on careers and families are exchanged. Others, however, may find the reunion experience unsettling and emotionally difficult- old rivalries may be revived or old romantic dreams shattered. Some may feel insecure about their present career paths or achievements, while others may feel strangely disconnected from people they once knew intimately. There can be no doubt that High School reunions can be emotionally-charged events, and one should be prepared to deal with the flood of memories that will undoubtedly occur.


So how should you prepare emotionally for your upcoming High School reunion? Consider the following advice as a rough guideline for dealing with the highs and lows you may experience.




1.We were all 18 once, and we all lived to tell the tale. Many of us look back on our High School days with a mixture of pride and embarassment. We can’t believe we wore those clothes, got those haircuts, hung out with that crowd, said that to our dates or spent so much money on that junk. These experiences are universal, and you’ll discover how universal once you start swapping notes at the reunion. If you have lingering feelings of inadequacy or embarassment from your High School days, listen to what the others are saying. More importantly, listen to what the others are NOT saying. They are not recalling all of your earlier mistakes in painful detail. They are not holding you up to the same ridicule you may have experienced ’back in the day’. If anything, reunion stories about High School tend to be much more reaffirming and light-hearted- a feeling of ’hey, we were all in this together’. Take adult comfort in the fact that very few people even remember all the ’dumb’ things you did as a teenager. Sometimes we forget to leave a lot of emotional baggage at the door when attending reunions. By approaching the reunion in an mature frame of mind, you can enjoy hearing these anecdotes without fear or dread.

2.Be prepared for ’career envy’. High School reunions can be very strange events to attend, because quite often the only element the participants have in common is the fact that they went to the same High School twenty years ago. Some have gone on to professional careers and academic endeavors, while others sought out work in blue-collar fields, or failed to seek work at all. Whatever your present career path in life, you may feel a deep sense of failure after reuniting with ’Dr. Smith’ or ’Professor Jones’. You may even be in the position of BEING Dr. Smith, in which case you may feel some resentment mixed in with the congratulations on your successful career. Either way, be prepared for a wide range of reactions from your former classmates. The reality of most High School reunions is that some of the participants won’t want to wish you well or become more acquainted. You may feel as though your career goals pale in comparison to others, but you should not use a reunion as a personal growth measurement crutch. You are not in competition with these people, so try your best to put a positive spin on your own accomplishments. Life is notoriously unfair at times, but reunions are a time of reaffirmation and growth, not more fodder for resentment.


3.There’s an old flame burning in your eyes. One of the biggest emotional challenges for any guest at a High School reunion is dealing with former romantic interests, both real and imagined. At any given moment, you may find yourself between the cheerleader who broke your heart and the girl whose heart you broke. Add to that your present circumstances with a spouse or steady relationship, and you have all the ingredients for a sticky situation indeed. What you need here is perspective and emotional strength. If you are attending this event with your sigificant other, remember that they are very much a part of your present life and will be part of your future as well. The cheerleader and the girl you left behind are part of your past, and should probably remain there. The same holds for the captain of the football team and that geeky band guy you rejected in ninth grade. When it comes to affairs of the heart, you cannot always trust your sense of logic. What you may feel like doing or saying at the reunion may not be the PROPER thing to do or say, especially when there are people in your life who may be hurt. Put your feelings in perspective from the very beginning. Going to a High School reunion with a hidden emotional agenda can backfire painfully. If you are still single and have fantasies of rekindling a romance with your High School sweetheart, proceed with caution. Respect their boundaries and accept whatever reality check you are given. It is much easier emotionally to arrive at the reunion without an agenda and just allow exchanges to happen naturally.


4."Hey! It’s that: a) Nerd b) Jock c) Burnout d) Band Geek." Stereotypes die hard, and stereotypical behavior may still run rampant at your reunion. Don’t be surprised if some of the former athletes still resent the studious classmates, or the former cheerleaders look down on the ’nobodies’. This is behavior that was ingrained for many formative years, and adulthood will not automatically change it. You may like to believe that you have no such prejudices in your own life, but don’t be surprised if a few pop out at the reunion. You may have experienced a tremendous amount of psychological pain from your treatment at the hands of some of those now sampling the hors d’ouvres and dancing the night away. These issues may still affect how you view the world as an adult. You do indeed have a right to feel this way about how you were treated as a teenager by your peers. Sometimes these repressed feelings surface at reunions, so be prepared to take a long walk or spend time with friends. If you find yourself on the other end of the spectrum, don’t give in to peer pressure and renew former prejudices and stereotypical views. Distance yourself from the 18 year old version that didn’t know any better. A reunion may be your last best chance to make amends with some people you may have hurt in the past, or receive a heartfelt apology from a former tormentor. Enjoy the banquets and the picnics and all the other great events at a High School reunion, but don’t neglect your emotional health at the same time.

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