Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Three Reunions, Three Lessons.

I had the last of my three 10-year high school reunions yesterday. It was a fantastic night and I really enjoyed it. I guess I'm now used to the whole reunion thing as I wasn't nervous at all for this one! That also comes from sorting through a lot of my "stuff". My self-esteem did not depend on the night going well, and since it did I just feel better about myself!

On the way home, I reflected on the three different reunions and the emotions and self-beliefs that surrounded each one. Like most teenagers my high school years were fraught with dramas and traumas, and being an Aspie with difficult and divorced parents I had perhaps a harder time than many dealing with the trials of teenagehood. In some ways, the reunions have let me 'go back' and fix some of the things that were going wrong. I've learned an important lesson out of each of the reunions - a different lesson each time.

Before the first reunion, for EHSHS, I was incredibly nervous. I was only at EHSHS for Years 8 and 9 (1993-94) and didn't really feel like I had any right to be going. I also had to get there very late, because my uncle's wedding reception was the same night. I was convinced that only a couple of people would remember me, and that they would probably wonder what I was doing there since I hadn't graduated with them. I even asked the people running it whether I was allowed to go!

When I got there, I was immediately greeted with great excitement by dozens of old friends and acquaintances. Most didn't even remember that I hadn't been there the whole time, or alternatively had wondered where the hell I'd gone since my friends hadn't managed to pass on the fact that I'd been custody-shuffled up to the northern suburbs. I was hugged by people I barely remembered, and "glomped" by a few who had really missed me. It was wonderful and I went home feeling like I'd regained a whole portion of my life that went missing after I left EHSHS.

Lesson One: You Are Memorable. I am not background noise. My appearance and manner and personality leaves a pleasant memory that people can retrieve immediately. I am missed when I leave and welcomed when I return. I don't need to fear being forgotten or unnoticed.

The next reunion was for GSHS where I did Years 10-12 (1995-97) after going to live with Mum. Before the GSHS reunion I felt even worse than I did prior to the first one. I was very much unpopular at GSHS (my friends were all in the year below me because my own year didn't 'get' me). I felt again like I had no right to be there and would be teased / laughed at / shunned for turning up to the reunion when I was so unwelcome at the school in the first place. I was terribly nervous.

What I found, when I got there, was that everyone remembered me, and no one remembered that I'd been unpopular. People kept asking things like "oh, were you at that party where . . .", and I kept having to say "no, I wasn't", thinking all the while ". . . because you guys never once invited me to a party!". They didn't have any recollection of my status as class pariah, and welcomed me with open arms and great enthusiasm. I hadn't been one of the crowd, but all they remembered was that I had been there through the most important years of high school. That was all that mattered to them.

Lesson Two: You Are Acceptable. Kids in high school are stupidly obsessed with conformity. My oddness was unbearable to them back then, but they're adults and they're over it. The person I am today is acceptable to the people they are today. I am not a pariah and no one sees me as one. I am accepted as one of "them".

This weekend's reunion was for FSHS, where I repeated Year 12 in 1998, having gone back to live with Dad at his new house in a different suburb after stuffing up my tertiary entrance exams in 1997. I wasn't nervous for this one - I knew that T, a good friend of mine, would be there, and I had better memories of the people at FSHS in general. I was pretty sure I was going to be welcomed, and hoped I would also be remembered.

The evening was delightful. Most people remembered me (some after a bit of prompting lol), and if they remembered me as half of "Christine and Brett", well, that's fair enough! Most were quite fascinated by the path my life had taken, and I found I had a lot in common with many of the girls I spent the evening with. It was a really great night.

Lesson Three: You Are Respected. People think very highly of someone who has three degrees, who followed her dream to do archaeology, who made a sensible decision to get out when it wasn't working out, and who does such an undeniably difficult and underpaid job as primary school teaching. In fact, the stuff I can do seriously amazes people, even if I consider them far brighter than me! So far as mannerisms can tell the story, everyone remembered liking me at school, and many remembered my dream to do archaeology. I am seen as someone who has achieved, who has strived, who has Gone Somewhere and Done Something with her life. No one cares about what I don't have or thinks less of me for it. What I do have is sufficient.

At last night's reunion I also had a long chat to my high school sweetheart (the aforementioned Brett), who was there with his wife and child. I found that, for the first time since we broke up in 2000, chatting to Brett triggered none of my "stuff". I think I'm starting to get my head around my past and put it away.

The three reunions have helped to set right a number of misconceptions I had about myself, and have replaced them with the positives listed above. And that feels good!


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