There seem to be a few acceptable answers to the question: how was your high school reunion? They are: “Great!” “Fun!” or “Amazing!”
I went to my 30threunion this summer and is was Great! Fun! And amazing! But it was also nostalgic and even painful. Reunions seem to take you right back to what might have been the most confusing, challenging time of your life. You’re over it; you’ve moved on; you’re mature now. And then you’re not. You’re a teenager again with concerns you haven’t had for years.
Perhaps many of my classmates don’t feel this way. But I have a hunch that at least some do – that may be why attendance at reunions is often sparse. We had a large class of around 500 students and hundreds of classmates didn’t make it back for our get-together . Maybe life got in the way, but perhaps there’s an understandable reluctance to go through this potentially emotional experience. I get it.
Reunions are like instant time-travel. And for some reason, my trip took me to a rainy, soggy camp site in Minnesota rather than a Four Seasons resort in Bali.
However, since I’m time-traveling this summer, I started to think about what guidance I’d have for myself, if I could go back to high school.
Advice for my 1988 self.
- Go to therapy now. My dad died in a private plane crash when I was five years old. When my mom remarried, it wasn’t the best situation. No matter how good my grades were or how many things I accomplished, there’s no figuring that all out on your own. You need help. And the process of getting help will hurt. But the sooner you go, the sooner a massive burden will be lifted from your shoulders, one layer at a time. Get help. Now.
- It’s going to be alright.Your life will be more interesting and rewarding than you can imagine. If it was up to you, your life would be a newspaper article written in black and white – straightforward and logical. Instead, it’s a vivid, 3-D movie with surround sound and unexpected connections and developments. There will be more beauty and pain than you can imagine. But it will be alright.
- Take up yoga. Yoga wasn’t big in the late ‘80’s, but I’m sure it was around. Yoga will help you manage your stress and anxiety.
- Eat way more vegetables. They are better for us than we know and if you’re full of veggies, you’ll eat less junk.
- Forget about trying to be tan. You are too white to get a tan. Just forget about it. As my dermatologist said to me recently, “Us fair-skinned people don’t age that well.” Don’t make it worse by getting too much sun. Use lots of sunscreen and make sure to put it on your neck too.
Of course, it’s easy to advise my past self with the benefit of hindsight, but I started to wonder what kind of advice I’d give myself today, if I was at a future reunion. For example, in 30 years, at my 60th, what sort of guidance would I have for myself today? Can I pretend that I have the benefit of hindsight and guide myself now?
Advice from my future 60th reunion.
- There will ALWAYS be more to do. Accept that you will never be “caught up.” Your to-do list will never be gone. Do what needs to be done and understand that no matter how efficient you are, there will always be more to do. It is never-ending. It’s called being alive.
- Learn Spanish. You’ve wanted to do it for a long time; keep looking for a way to make it happen.
- Make meditation a regular part of your routine. You know that it helps you appreciate the day more fully and feel more resilient. Make it a priority.
- Appreciate your husband. You are married to an interesting, smart and hilarious guy. Notice this every day.
- Enjoy your dog. Your dog will only be here for a short time – savor the walks you take with him. He is one of the biggest gifts in your life.
Thankfully, the advice to my 1988 self is different than the advice to my 2018 self. I would be worried if it wasn’t. I guess we do grow, learn and mature.
I’m glad I went to my reunion, but I am also glad it’s over. And I’m happy there won’t be another one for another five or ten years. Whew!
To all of you embarking on a reunion this summer: best of luck! May your time travel take you to a Four Seasons resort in Bali. And if you have any advice that you have for your high-school self (or yourself today), please do share.