We've all seen the movies.
The former nerd grows up and builds a life that's flashy and impressive, and is primed to show it off at the high school reunion.
In movies, high school reunions are places where revenge and justice are possible. They represent the ability to remake yourself and flip the script on power dynamics in a ridiculous context. But in reality, they can be much different.
My 10 year reunion was held at a bar. It was all the same people at the bar as it was every weekend, but this time they were wearing nicer clothes.
The biggest surprise anytime I catch up with people I grew up with is finding out their career. Most of us have pretty unremarkable jobs but some that stood out:
-The guy who got arrested for underaged drinking 3 times is now a cop.
-The girl who couldn’t form a coherent sentence is now a teacher.
-The super genius is living in poverty because he decided to move to Costa Rica to save the rainforest.
-The bad kid joined the Army and now runs a small business and is doing very well for himself.
-The golden child is now in prison for assault.
-The weirdo became a DJ and does shows at night clubs
-The nerdy D&D kid now owns and operates an outdoor shooting range and is one of the largest ammunition suppliers in the area.
A guy had cancer and attended. He looked to be 80 years old but was in his late 20s. Cancer really took a toll on him. Sad.
Back in high school, there was one girl who was extremely popular, extremely pretty, and seemed totally unapproachable from my vantage point. She was also really catty, embodying a lot of the “Mean Girl” stereotypes.
Talking with her at the reunion, it turned out that she was very insecure, and had a very tenuous home life for which she was compensating and now she is extremely kind, full of gratitude, and just really down to earth. I love seeing that sort of change in people!
The last I ever heard of my high school reunion was in an alumni newsletter. I was listed as “missing” with a request for anyone who knew how to contact me to contact the alumni organization. The newsletter was sent to my house. I’m trying not to take it personally.
It was disturbing that 17 classmates had died by our 10th reunion.
Real estate agents, so many real estate agents.
The only high school reunion I attended was my 50th. I was surprised that people remembered things I'd done with amazing detail specificity.
That my friend was still alive and he was equally surprised that I was. We got into drugs together right after HS, we ended up being so f**ked up that one night we robbed each other (he sold me a bag of actual grass and I gave him a dollar instead of a 20 and we both ran in opposite directions and never spoke again. Friendship ended, no one even confronted the other.
10 years later at my HS reunion I see him sitting in the corner, we were both sober and looking great. I walk over to him and first thing he says to me was 'OMG I THOUGHT YOU'D BE DEAD' and I said the same thing back to him...we talked the rest of the night.
He didn't even remember why we stopped talking in the first place, just that we were both in a very dark place when we parted ways lol. Anyway we both felt it best we leave the friendship there and did not exchange numbers or anything but I'm glad he's alive.
The massive stoner from the year below me who used to get suspended on a monthly basis was the head of the English department.
That I couldn't remember anyone. Everyone remembered me because I was the freak in high school, and people kept coming up to me and being like 'Scienceforbid, it's so great to see you.' And I kept having to run to the wall where they'd plastered blown-up yearbook photos to figure out who the f**k anybody was.
How incredibly differently have people aged.
The only real 'surprise' was just how wrong we were about how people would turn out. The ivy-league bound people you were sure would be CEOs one day, ended up dropping out of college, having normal middle-class lives, jobs, and marriages, and just being happy as 'average'.
The people you were sure would end up like Wooderson from School Daze, turned out to get Masters degrees and even PhDs in one case, and now work in either government or aerospace.
The guy who fought to get into West Point, ended up doing his required four years and then leaving the armed services. One guy ended up becoming a semi-successful author, and nobody saw that coming. Two committed suicide, and many asked 'Why? He seemed to have everything going for him!?'
The girl who got pregnant at 16, who you were sure was destined for a life of struggle, ended up landing a great career and retiring early. And her kids turned out to be great people who any parent would be proud of. The people you were sure would never lose contact with their friend group, vanished as if they never existed.
The people who had to ask yourself, 'I don't recall that name at all, did they graduate in my class?' are now friends with 75% of the class on Facebook, and active!
The athletes (boys and girls) are now anything but athletes, overweight and frumpy.
The frumpy dumpy ones now are rock climbers and hike the entirety of the Appalachian Trail.
IT JUST GOES TO SHOW: Who you are on graduation day, is absolutely not who you will become in three, five, ten, or thirty years. The future is yet unwritten, and the only thing stopping you from change, is yourself.
My 7th grade crush, the smartest girl in class, was still single and when I asked her what she likes to do for fun in Chicago, she said, 'party!' We were 48 years old.
Being in a room of people who you grew up with, Were close to, did all kinds of things with are now all strangers. It was like meeting them all again for the first time.