Saturday, August 29, 2009

Class of 1979

My 30th high school reunion is this weekend (am I really that old?)  A few classmates have contacted me on facebook, the event is being held at one of my favorite restaurants, and it sounds like fun - but there is no way I will go to this or any high school reunion! High school was not a happy time for me - in fact, it was horrible!  This is not a reflection on my school or classmates - it was a small town school (my graduating class was about 75), the kids were nice enough, and a few of them really tried to be friendly and include me. The problem was definitely and exclusively me. 

I know I am not the only person who has bad memories of high school - it's so common it's cliche, and we all have different reasons for this.  My problem was culture shock. Up until 10th grade I had lived most of my life in Liberia, West Africa, as a missionaries' kid. My schooling consisted of a mixture of homeschooling, Liberian school, boarding school with other missionaries' kids, and an American school with embassy kids, "army brats", wealthy Liberians, and a variety of kids from other cultures. None of this in any way prepared me for high school in a small New England community - I was a fish out of  water! I often wonder if it would have been easier if I had been a different color or had an accent. On the outside I looked and sounded like everyone else, but really I was clueless - I had no idea how to relate to the people around me. I didn't know how to dress and I could barely have a conversation with the other kids - not only was I painfully shy, but I had no frame of reference to draw from for conversation. I just didn't know what to say or how to say it. Everything I said sounded awkward, inappropriate, irrelevant, or just plain stupid to me, and I often felt like people were looking at me like I had two heads (in actuality they probably weren't paying much attention - we're all pretty self-involved in high school). 

I've come a long way since high school; I had a great college experience where I made good friends and met my future husband. I have spent the last 30 years raising a wonderful family and gaining confidence in my career as a reference librarian. I love my family, I love my career, I love my church, and I'm very happy with the person that I have become. So why would I have a problem with going to my high school reunion? Because for some reason whenever I encounter anyone from my high school days I immediately revert to the tongue-tied colorless person that I saw myself as back then. I haven't actually seen very many of my former classmates over the years, but the few times that I have I invariably say something idiotic - in other words, everything comes out in "moron"! What's up with that? What on earth makes me instantly regress to 30 years ago? I don't know and I can't seem to stop it from happening. It would be interesting to see everyone and hear about how their lives turned out - I would love to be a "fly on the wall" and watch and listen. But there is no way that I will be there - I'm just not strong enough to get beyond my high school hang-ups. I hope they have a great time catching up and celebrating together, and I hope they take lots of pictures and post them on their facebook pages, but as for me I will keep a safe distance!

1 comment:

  1. I think a LOT of people can relate to how you feel about reunions, even though your circumstances are different - Liberia sounds mysterious and exotic though - I wonder how many kids secretly envied you? I guess it's all in how you look at things....

    High school was not fun for me either, it was largely my own darned fault, and I, too, will be sitting out my reunions. Maybe we could start a Facebook group for everyone who can relate? :)