For many people there is angst when it comes to the thought of attending a class reunion. You may want to attend, but you also want to enjoy the evening. We all had those moments in junior high or high school that we hope nobody remembers or brings up. That’s just it, we ALL have those moments. Even the most popular kids. Growing up is not easy, but it is nice to know we share that bond of going through it with a group of people. Some of us, went our entire school career from kindergarten through senior high with the same people. Don’t discount the importance of going to a reunion and maintaining those connections in life, because as you grow older you will realize that those relationships and friendships, you had while you were young, tend to drop off as years go by. Your list of childhood friendships that remain in adulthood grows fewer and fewer as time goes on. Cherish the moments when there are people who do want that connection. Take the time to attend your reunion to reconnect, reminisce about the positive, and to see how far you all have come since high school. Some more than others, but that’s ok. Just being alive is a thing to celebrate, as there will be classmates that perish through the years. By the time my 15 year class reunion came around we had already lost eight fellow classmates from our graduating class. Go to your reunion, as you never know if you or others will be around for the next one.
Here are my top 10 tips for enjoying your class reunion:
1. Don’t assume that people are the same that they were in high school. People change, even more as time marches on. If you are attending your 20th and beyond then you can expect people to be completely different. Most people change, in fact nobody stays exactly the same from one year to the next.
That girl that was mean to you in high school may have been going through a rough time at home and now that she is grown up and on her own she is much more pleasant to be around. That wimpy looking guy may now be handsome and successful! You don’t know unless you show up to your reunion. Facebook can be deceptive. People post what they only want others to see. Don’t rely on social media, instead show up, talk to people, and get to know who they are in the here and now.
2. Talk to people. Don’t just stand in a corner and expect people to come to you. Make an effort to talk to others at the reunion and not just the people you socialized with during high school. You may find that some of your classmates you didn’t know so well are actually leading quite interesting and fun lives. Give them a chance, by making conversations with lots of people over the course of the evening.
3. Don’t put your foot in your mouth. Avoid broaching topics with your classmates that would embarrass them or hurt them. If they were suspended for an incident in high school, it probably would not be polite or nice to bring it up. Focus on the positive memories that happened throughout the course of high school and forget the negative.
4. Limit your intake of alcohol. The best way to make a fool of yourself at a class rueuiopn is to drink too much. You lose control of your behaviors and especially what comes out of your mouth. You should limit yourself to 1-2 drinks over the course of the evening. It should be a night of reminiscing, not a night for people to remember for the next 10 years because you made a fool of yourself. Alcohol has a way of helping us look and act foolishly, even when we are trying to be at our best. Limit the alcohol to remain in control of yourself and enjoy the evening.
5. Don’t try to be something you are not. People really are not impressed with bragging, one-upsmanship, and general displays of grandiosity. Just be yourself, in a down to earth, relatable, and friendly way that leaves people feeling good about their interaction with you. If you are trying to impress people, they are going to pick up on that vibe and typically it just puts people off.
6. Realize that everyone looks different. That jock who was once a hunk may now be paunchy and bald. The head cheerleader may now be overweight with hair that has been over-bleached for years. The same is true for everyone in your class. We all get old. We all lose hair to some extent and we all get wrinkles with time. Don’t worry about how you looked now in comparison to high school, because guess what? EVERYONE has changed.
7. Don’t expect people to remember you. Remember #6: we have all changed in appearance, including yourself. Also, memories fade over the years. Some people have a hard time remembering what happened 20 years ago, let alone your name, especially if you weren’t near and dear friends. Give people a break. Wear your name tag, make it obvious and easily seen. Don’t be offended when someone doesn’t remember you, because chances are, there will also be people there who you don’t remember either.
8. Avoid the topics of politics, religion, or anything controversial. It’s a night to reminisce about the GOOD from high school. It’s also a great opportunity to find out what your classmates have been up to in recent years. Even though you may be connected on Facebook, you would be surprised how much people don’t share via social media. Connect with former classmates on a personal level, asking them about their lives. No need for politics or religion, unless you are looking for an argument. If you are, then you probably shouldn’t go to your reunion. Nobody wants a disruptive jerk to be at the reunion, and you will be just that if you get argumentative with others.
9. Don’t relegate yourself to conversing with only classmates, also feel free to chat with spouses and dates of your classmates. The evening can be a drag for someone who didn’t graduate in the class if nobody is willing to talk with them. Spouses and dates are there to have fun and make conversation too! Refer back to #2: you may make conversation with someone who is quite interesting and fun and you now have a new friend. I experienced that at my own recent 20 year reunion, as I chatted with Carrie and Amanda, both who are wives of two former classmates. It was a pleasure chatting with these ladies I had not met before and we have now even become friends on Facebook. They helped make the night even more enjoyable. You never know what conversations or people will help create a good reunion experience for you, but being open to a variety of people (even those you don’t know), is a good first step to making it enjoyable!
10. Wear what makes you comfortable. Now of course, some reunions have attire suggestions, such as cocktail (so don’t come wearing jean shorts and expect not to feel out of place). However, most reunions are flexible on attire, so look nice and wear something you know you will feel comfortable in for the night. A reunion is not the best place to try out a skin tight mini dress for the first time. Doing so would make you feel self-conscious and awkward all night. Wear an outfit that you feel you look great in and is also a comfortable ensemble.