79 of my former classmates met last Sunday night on Zoom for our 45 year reunion. I signed up and paid to go and then had what can best be described as an emotional relapse to the way I felt about myself and how I believed others perceived me dating back to 1975. Instead of holding it in and possibly talking myself out of attending, I decided to post my insecurity on our group Facebook page. The reactions were surprising and a touching reminder of the wonderful people that I spent my high school years with.
Several folks thanked me for admitting something they were feeling as well; some shared their memory of who I was (friendly and outgoing…something I had to be reminded of). One person came out about who he was and had been way back then. I’m as sick as my secrets. I went from feeling nervous and awkward to being genuinely excited to hear how others have been doing the last 45 years.
I showered, put on a little make-up, and got dressed as if I was going out for a casual evening with old friends, which I was. Nervously, I logged in 20 minutes early, impatiently sitting in the “waiting room”. As the time drew near, I was allowed in, and it is hard to describe my excitement. We have all aged (some remarkably better than others). I looked at the names because it was hard to recognize some by their face. I felt the enthusiasm and energy in everyone’s voices as they joined.
I noticed that all those I considered the “cool kids” didn’t intimidate me anymore. Truthfully I thought it would. The organizers did an amazing job. They put together quite a program. Several people, including myself, were asked throughout the evening to share for 90 seconds on what was going on with them. Several were highlighted that had become quite accomplished in their field.
After 45 years, we lost too many too soon. After all, we are all around 63. A beautiful memoriam was shown of them. It was a stark reminder that we only have today.
The musical talent of our class was quite remarkable. They recorded the most incredible rendition of a song that we all listened to. I can’t put into words how amazing it was.
We ended with two opportunities to go to private rooms. One was with the people we went to junior high with. There was a choice of four different rooms. The other was based on what extracurriculars we were involved with in high school. By this time a couple emotions had begun coming up. The first realization I had was that there was nothing I was involved with in school. All my activities were religious based and outside school.
As I watched in awe my classmates that had accomplished so much, I began to think: what had I done in 45 years? Lived in Israel, three failed marriages, ruined my life with drugs but came out of it and have been in recovery for 25 years, 10 years with the same company, and that was it. It took a couple days to talk myself down from all that, but I did. I remembered that I’m not in competition with anyone. My job is to be the best me possible and a little better today than yesterday.
I realized that I have been concerned that there isn’t much more I can accomplish now that I recently turned 63. Rather than being intimidated by those that were highlighted, I have chosen to use it as encouragement to accomplish two things that I have always wanted to do. The goal is to have momentum on both of them to share at our face-to-face reunion next year.
All the emotional waves turned out to be opportunities to get uncomfortable, vulnerable, and be reminded it is never too late to make my dreams come true. Our reunion turned out to be so much more than the wonderful three hours we spent together and for that I am beyond grateful!