My High School Class Reunion: How Do I Look?
Have you ever wondered what to wear to high school class reunion?
In a few weeks, I’m going to my 35th high school class reunion. Just typing that sentence gives me a sense of dread. Don’t get me wrong, I want to go. Because if I didn’t want to go, I wouldn’t. While I’ve been to most of them, the last time it came around I wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t go.
So why do I feel anxious about it?
Likely, it has everything to do with my ego, reminding me how much I care about how I look, how “successful” I’ve become, and how I will be perceived. What’s crazy is that I’m really only in regular contact with one person from High School - my BFF Melody. Why do I care at all about what these people think of me?
Let me be totally transparent here. I want to look fabulous. I want people to ask me what I do for a living. I want them to google me and see how popular I am. I want to tell them about my 32 year long, happy marriage. I want them to see how far I’ve come since high school. I’m oddly craving approval from people with whom I have no real and meaningful relationship.
Really? I'm almost 53 years old and I still want to be one of the cool kids. It’s difficult to admit this to you.
High school was not as painful for me as it was for others. I was fairly “popular” as we called it. I had a small group of friends; a good mix of athletes and intellectuals. As I look back into those years, I was well adjusted in terms relative to high school. I was mostly happy and was blessed with a positive attitude.
My high school years weren’t perfect, however. I felt fat, and worried about how my body looked every single day. I hid the truth of the dysfunction in my family from my friends. I didn’t feel safe to be myself. In fact, I had no real idea how to be authentic. My outer life was superficial.
I disregarded others that were different from me. I may not have seen the beauty of those people who were less popular than me. I don’t remember actively bullying anyone, but I do know that some of my friends behaved poorly to others. And I remember going along with them, choosing not to take a stand for those who didn’t fit in. Lacking courage, I laughed along with them.
Fast forward 35 years, and I can see the Charrise of those years with more insight. I was doing what others did. I was seeking a sense of belonging. I wanted to be loved. Like everyone else. I wanted to be worthy.
And I want to feel worthy in a few weeks, when I get acquainted with some of the people with whom I have shared history. It seems all my stuff comes back up at this prospect. Worthiness, body issues, my need to belong.
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this desire to prove that I am worthy, that I belong somewhere, and that no matter what size I am I worry about it. As a life coach, I see behavior in others that supports these fears every day. And I’ll bet this is the case for most of my classmates, to some extent.
Knowing all this, I have a new strategy for showing up powerfully at this reunion. Rather than allowing my ego to run the show, I will engage my Higher Self. I’ll wear something that makes me feel good. I will focus on others rather than myself, engaging my curiosity about them. I’ll ask them about their lives. I’ll seek out the people who were unpopular, and offer an apology to anyone I may have hurt by being insensitive to their high school experience. I will be kind.
I’ll shift from fear to love. This choice is always available to me. I can choose spirit over ego in any given situation where I perceive it would serve the situation more.
I will show up as the authentic me, with 35 more years of living under my belt. My ego will be there with me...and I’ll ask her to be quiet.