What do you think about when you think of your high school reunion?
Is it something you look forward to? Are you a go-getter that shows up every year or are you going to attend your milestone anniversary only? Are you going to attend at all, ever?
As a mama of young children, looking back on your childhood and your memories of school always brings up new feelings. It’s normal to think of your kids and what they would experience in the same situations, at different ages of their adolescence.
What always resonates in my mind is one thought: “Dear Lord, I hope they are not picked on.”
Of course I think of a lot more than that, but generally speaking this is my worry for them in elementary school and high school.
If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you can probably gather that I am an outgoing person, an A-type personality, and I am totally fine making fun of myself and being a pretty good team player. This was not always the case.
Elementary school turned ugly around puberty and I was bullied a lot. There were the whispers and comments from the girls that played with my mind, the guys that made me feel ugly and a total nerd for doing well (to the point where I tried to do worse in school to try and fit in) and then there were the worst moments of being punched, tripped, picked up and carried around and even stapled on my hand (yes that’s right, this is not a misspell).
How did I cope? I ran. I didn’t want any of the same people in my high school of choice so I could start fresh, start new, and hopefully not be treated in this same way for the next five years. I went to a private school for girls in the city and prayed for a change.
It happened. Change was good. In the first weeks of school, I met sweet girls, all struggling to fit in like me. We were all just starting here together and it was ok. Although I still remember sitting in the first school assembly and some girls who had come to the school together from their elementary were starring, and assessing the crowd. One girl said “I mean, do you really think any of these girls shave their legs yet?” I was closest in their view. I did not shave my legs yet. I am part Italian. And suddenly, my pale skin and dark hair on my legs at the young age of 13 made me feel…embarrassed.
But I more or less brushed that off, and I made friends, and I participated in anything I wanted, and it was good. The majority of my high school years was filled with fun times and great memories I still hold dear. Sure there were the moments of mean girls and gossip and serious hate. Of and there was of course the sincere lack of feeling smart, not being able to ‘get’ math and science in a school that encouraged that as the main direction a teen should focus on to get a real job.
But I found my passion, I found writing. I got a real thrill learning Shakespeare, and my best times were in the art studio expressing my artistic side. In the end, I excelled in English which led me to where I am today, 20 years later.
And just yesterday, my son was talking with me about how they are learning how to prepare a written story in class. I looked at him and was able to say “that’s what Mommy does in her work on the computer”. And he got it. And I was proud.
This weekend is my 20th high school reunion, and I’m going. I’ve had mixed feelings about it, and I have had really interesting conversations about it with other friends. This is our milestone year. Whether we went to different schools, we all shared similar feelings about meeting up with old friends after so long.
Here’s the thing, a reunion is a real life Facebook search. You know what I mean, be honest. There are some people that you have connected with, or they have connected with you, simply because you are curious to know what they are doing with their lives. Did they get married? Did they have kids? What do they do? And after that, for the most part, you move on. You may be the type of person who befriends every single possible connection in Facebook, or you may be the type that glances and keeps your friends to a minimum.
I’m not sure who I am on that regard. Facebook is tricky. But one thing I do know, if you can get out of your home, and have a moment to reminisce and enjoy a night out, do it. Do it at all costs. As mamas, we need that. We need to be reminded of the things we did before our kids, and how much we’ve accomplished since those awkward and messy years of finding ourselves.
I am more than certain, it will be strange, and even awkward, but it will be a moment. And mamas, that’s what it’s all about. Grabbing the moments and making them count.
To the teachers who introduced me to English Literature, Drama, Creative Arts, and hell, even Physics and Chemistry, thank you. There were moments in all of those subjects…in every subject, that shaped me.
And to all my friends, you know who you are, see you at the reunion.