It’s taken me three days of sitting on my thoughts post reunion to figure out how to follow up my last post. My post on knowing who I AM but not quite sure who I WAS.
What a strange feeling it was walking into that party on Saturday, my best friend and biggest supporter on my arm, knowing full well who I am but feeling pulled back into so many feelings I once felt. How quickly I remembered as I walked into that room who I WAS. It was as if there was an invisible tug of war going on inside my body. A tug toward that insecure girl as I saw so many faces that I once envied, but then whipped back into the reality of who I am today. Then Me that I Like and have become more comfortable living with.
I have to say, the awkward internal pull ended quickly. As I started saying hi to everyone and realized that it now, for the most part, 20 years later is an even playing field. I forced myself to believe that there really can’t be the cool kids and uncool kids anymore. We all grew up. Most of us have families. Change diapers. Clean up vomit. Struggle with staying at home or going to work. Are embarrassed for screaming at our kids when maybe we shouldn’t have. Are hesitant to admit that sometimes we don’t even LIKE our kids and we miss who we used to be.
And once that realization hit. That we’re all in this Place, this Life together, I Was Fine. I realized that no one gives a shit whether I do shots or smoke pot or stay up until 5:30 in the morning. Yeah, maybe they rolled their eyes at me in high school for not joining in on That fun. But now, last weekend, I didn’t care. And that’s not easy to do at 17. Not care. Because our whole lives are about caring what others think. Fearing looked down upon for being too fat, too thin, too slow, too prude, too smart, too dumb, too pretty, too sensitive.
But 20 years later. Now that I’ve found My Place. Where I know Where I fit and Who I am. I really don’t care. (As Much). Yes, I still want people to like me. Think I’m smart. And fun. And sweet. But I’ve taken great strides as I’ve found things to take pride in, to come to grips with “Like Me or Leave Me”. Life’s just too short to care so much.
So what did I walk away from this 20 year reunion with? A mix of emotions.
I left knowing that the qualities that really MATTER when you’re in high school are the ones that can carry you through life. External beauty, alcohol tolerance, and speed at which you get to third base (although may make you the life of the party) can’t quite score you points in your 40’s. But kindness, genuineness, and respect will. There was no one at the reunion I felt regret for having done them wrong. No, I was not friends with everyone. I probably didn’t make much of an effort in many cases but I never wronged a sole.
I hope I remember to tell Hannah and Luke, as they go through difficult times of not fitting in (because we all do right?) to Hold On. Just wait. Be strong. Be that Nice person who may not be the most popular but people LIKE because in the end, they’ll end up on top. Can we tell our kids that? Is there any chance they’ll listen? I know, probably not.
I’m also left with sadness. The night was so bittersweet as I walked away from friends who I had been so close to but lost complete touch with. It made me realize how important these friendships were. And are. And makes me wonder if it’s too late to rekindle them. And it also makes me wonder, What Happened? Why did we lose touch in the first place? And I can’t help thinking I am at fault. For not working harder to keep these friendships strong.
But mostly, I left the night with Relief. That those I loved in high school, I still love (although my major crushes never even showed… which might be a good thing?), that those who I envied I now felt no reason to envy and that the night really, was Just Fun. A ton of fun.
I’m still unclear about who I was 20 years ago. But tonight I’m realizing, it really doesn’t matter. Who I was made me who I am. The times I fell, feeling walked on, neglected or used, I got back up. It must have made me stronger. It must have taught me something to push me toward who I am today.
And to steal an amazing quote from a dear friend of mine, “Somehow I became the girl I wanted to be”. I just didn’t know who that girl was, until now.