Why you should go

How can I survive my high school reunion?

Union-Tribune Staff Writer
8:00 a.m. July 3, 2009


In life, there are certain things you must deal with once a decade.

Renew your driver's license.

Get a colonoscopy.

Decide if you're going to attend your high school reunion.

Every 10 years, you'll probably receive an invitation to revisit the years that you spent wishing away pimples and dreaming about the hottie in homeroom.

If you were prom queen or starting quarterback, if you still have your figure and/or your hair and you're now CEO of a successful corporation, then your only decision will be whether to take the BMW or the Porsche.

But for most everyone else, the thought of seeing all those old faces stirs a potent mixture of curiosity and apprehension.

Will they remember you as an immature, self-centered teenager or will they see the much-improved adult you've become? Have your looks stood the test of time? Will you have anything to say to people you haven't seen in years?

If you're mulling whether or not to attend your reunion, here are some things to consider – and ways to prepare for your journey back in time.

Why am I so nervous?

It's normal to worry that your old classmates will judge you for who you were then, instead of the mature, accomplished adult you are now.

“One thing you have to remember is that everyone is in the same boat,” said Lynn Thompson, owner of Carlsbad-based Reunion Specialists. “You are 10, 20, 30 or 40 years more mature and more experienced. You're not the same person you were, and neither are they.”

My career has had more downs than ups, and I recently got divorced. I don't want to explain all of that.

So what if you've never become a titan of business or renowned brain surgeon? The older you are, the more likely it is that everyone else in the room has suffered their own disappointments, from failed businesses to failed marriages.

Before you go, think about what makes you happy, whether it's your children or your travels, and talk about that.

Should I bring my spouse or significant other?

About half do, half don't, Thompson said. If your spouse or partner doesn't need a lot of your attention at social functions, then go ahead, Thompson said.

If you're worried about not having anyone to talk to, it's also OK to bring a friend or sibling, perhaps someone who graduated another year from the same school, Thompson said.

I've gained a lot of weight and I'm not sure I want anyone to see me.

You can try dieting, exercising and booking your Botox/teeth-whitening appointments. Or you can try not to worry about it so much.

In a survey of 277 adults before and after they attended reunions, many expressed fears about being judged harshly by their former classmates.

Yet hardly anyone said they were interested in doing that to others, said Glenn Reeder, a professor of psychology at Illinois State University.

“People get nervous when they think the purpose of the reunion is to show other people how successful they are, or compare who's gained weight,” Reeder said. “But that's not why most people go.”

What should I wear?

Choose an outfit that's flattering and comfortable, and cross your fingers that the organizers haven't chosen a tropical theme. Floral dresses and Hawaiian shirts don't do anyone any favors.

Women can't go wrong with a simple dress and heels. For men, a dress shirt, slacks and maybe a jacket will work.

There will always be one guy wearing shorts and flip-flops and one woman in a fire-engine red, sequined number. Let it not be you.

I was part of the “in” crowd in high school. Frankly, I wasn't always so nice.

Whether you were the geek or the snob, well, they don't call it adolescent behavior for nothing. Some people apologize for past behavior in their reunion bios, Thompson said.

I was not part of the “in” crowd. In fact, I remember high school as something to be endured.

If there are wounds that haven't fully healed, use the event as an opportunity to replace those old memories with new ones.

Some of those old classmates have probably grown into people you will like a lot better today than you did then.

I'm still feeling unsure. Give me one good reason why I should go.

Reunions can be great for rekindling old romances and networking. But the main reason to go is that you'll probably have a good time.

In the survey of reunion attendees, nearly everyone reported having fun.

“The older the respondent was, the more they enjoyed the reunion,” Reeder said. “As you age, you're a long way from those high school cliques and are just happy to make connections with people you once knew.”

Jenifer Goodwin

 Take a look at us.  No--take a really GOOD look at us.  Not a single one of us is the same seventeen year old you might remember.    Come on out to the reunion, meet some one you might have missed when you went to school together.
 Marsha, Debbie, Debbie's daughter, Craig, Chuck, Robert, Gary, Debra
Gary, Robert, Steve Downey, Mark Overacker, Carol Martin Moles, Martin, Toni
Robert's chin, Teresa, Debra Lankford, Susan, Dave Perfater, Darryl, Gary, Elaine, Pam Payne Simpkins, Sally McClanahan, Marsha
Timmy Manning, Teresa, Alan Bober, Debra
Martin Louthian, Marsha, Darryl, Debbie Thompson, Laura Thompson (Daughter) Mark, Kirk Divers, Gary, Patrick, Mark Overacker, Biran Lunsford, Craig Williams, Susan E, Martin Ransone, Robert, Elizabeth, Sandra Swiney, Cindy, Deborah, Cathy Slonaker
Sandra Swiney, Laura, Debra Lankford, Robert, Cindy V-K, Marsha, Elizabeth, Debbie, Susan E
Susan E, Craig Williams, Kirk Divers, Steve Downey, Toni Stinnett, Sally McClanahan
Paul Clark, Gary Oyler, Robert Shepherd
Susan E, Maggie E, Cindy V-K, Marsha, Debra, Patty Hartman Frazier