I just attended my 20th high school class reunion. From the time the date was announced, I had planned to go. I was excited to revisit my previous life. Thoughts rushed in. Who will go? Will I recognize my classmates? Will they recognize me? And let’s be honest…..what will I wear? Oh boy…I am already nervous!
The months flew by. Before I knew it, I was getting ready in my parent’s bathroom just an hour before the event. As I zipped mu dress, my husband asked me to turn around. As I did, he asked if I would also be wearing this particular dress to an upcoming formal event. OMG. Am I overdressed? I took a deep breath and openly admitted, this is me.
Three words “this is me” echoed and sent my brain on a journey back in time. Who am I really and how did I get here? How did my classmates remember me? How did I remember myself? Have I changed? How do I want to show up today? How will I show up today?
Here is how I remember myself 20 years ago. I was a tom boy. Friends were important to me, and I had a close inner circle. I was athletic and sports consumed much of my time. I was on student council, I was the prom queen, and I did well in school. My family hosted many of the after dance and summer parties. We spent so much time in our pool! In the class yearbook, I was voted most likely to make $1,000,000 by the age of 21. Ha! I wish.
We arrived at the reunion, and I walked in with my husband and close girlfriend. I instantly saw familiar faces. I could not believe how most everyone looked exactly the same. I wanted to say “hello” to everyone who attended. I slowly worked my way through the crowd. I wanted everyone to feel appreciated by me.
It’s an odd thing. Do I hug? Do I shake hands? Do I just smile? I went in for the hug on every single person- spouses included. It’s the game time decision I made. Invading personal space? I’m sure I did. But at the end of the day, I didn’t think anyone would lose sleep over it. Today was a day that I was prepared for people to be wrong about me.
I made some amazing connections at the reunion. Connections that I did not expect to make. A classmate who I had always admired opened up about her success. She allowed me to see her brilliance. I learned that she owns her own childhood development center, she has several masters degrees, three amazing children, a satisfying marriage, she makes time for self care….she is thriving. I felt so happy for her. She empowered me.
The other interaction that I remember fondly was with a young man that I did not recognize. I was standing near him. We looked at each other, exchanged a hello, and simultaneously looked back down. I then looked him in the eyes and said, “ok, who are you?” We both laughed. He reminded me that he was Eric! We then went on to have a delightful, funny, energizing conversation. I put myself out there and bam…huge returns. The 18 year old me would not have done this.
I felt thankful for my roots, and even more thankful for how my branches have grown. In the past 20 years I have married the most amazing man, I was given two beautiful children, and I was able to fulfill my dream of becoming a physician. I have gained self confidence, self awareness, and a more open heart. I have developed my own truths and I live them out everyday. I am in better shape than in high school- my prom dress is too big! I am no longer a total tom boy, but I have embraced all that it means to be ultra feminine.
The event went on better than expected, and I had an amazing time. One of the questions that was repeated throughout the night was, “Do your parents still have their pool?” The question was always followed by a reminder of how much fun we had. We remember these times so fondly. I then realized that while it is difficult to remember the specific attributes about each classmate, we certainly remembered how we made each other feel.
Some things haven’t changed while other things have. Life is a journey with the opportunity to make each day full and meaningful no matter what the circumstance. We can show up as our best self as often as we choose. The more we show up as our best self, the better we become overall. Compounded time allows us to be better. I will always be working on myself. I am not perfect, others will be wrong about me, but 20 years later I am comfortable in my own skin. Fancy dress and all- this is me.