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!