7 Reasons to Attend your 40th High School Reunion

Apr 10, 2021
Reunions, whether high school or college, are unlike most other events. You may still have close friendships with people you went to school with, but it’s likely there are people that you haven’t seen in decades.

Whether you were friends in school or not, you share background and experiences with these people. Your classmates are your age, and you share the same cultural references. Chances are you know the same music, movies and books, and likely root for the same sports teams.

You experienced the same teachers and extracurricular activities, and are bonded by being together in the same time and place for many years.

You Get to Reconnect with Old Friends
This is probably the most obvious reason to attend a reunion. I have kept some friends from high school, but others disappeared from my life shortly after graduation. It was wonderful to walk into the room and be greeted by people I haven’t seen in 30 or 40 years.

The Old Cliques Are Gone
I suspect many of us avoid class reunions thinking people will split into old time cliques, and they will feel like an outsider. As I observed the seating arrangements during dinner, I was amazed.

You Can Cast Aside Political Differences
In the United States, politics has become extremely divisive. People avoid family gatherings, and social occasions can be fraught with uncomfortable political exchanges.

Everybody Has Aged
I suspect that women, especially, worry about how well they have or haven’t aged. Nothing brings that insecurity to the forefront faster than a reunion with people who knew you in your glory days. Back then you were probably as close to physical perfection as you would ever be – no gray hair, no saggy neck, no wrinkles and no artificial joints.

When it comes to aging, we’re all in the same boat. Yes, some people looked great and others were a little worse for the wear. As a group, we were grayer, balder and heavier. No one seemed to care.

The Old Cliques Are Gone
I suspect many of us avoid class reunions thinking people will split into old time cliques, and they will feel like an outsider. As I observed the seating arrangements during dinner, I was amazed.

You Can Quietly Honor Those Who Have Died
At our reunion, a display table held photos of classmates who have passed. I had been unaware of some of these deaths.

I may not have attended their funerals, but I could and did honor them in a small way that night. Their passing reminded me that we travel on this path with others, and that we don’t know where or when our trip will end.

It Will Make You Challenge Your Assumptions
Long ago, you formed assumptions about yourself and others that might not be as true as you thought. I learned that a boy I had considered a strange loner and a bit of a loser was an abused foster child.

Another classmate shared that he had spent years idolizing “the most beautiful girl in our class, a girl so clearly out of my league I couldn’t even talk to her.” I was shocked when he named her, a girl that I thought of as so average and ordinary I couldn’t image him holding her in such high esteem.
Later, a girl I had been in awe of, one of the “popular crowd” and clearly not in my league, came up to me and shared that she wasn’t surprised I had become a professor. “I was always so envious that you were so smart,” she said. I was speechless. I wouldn’t have guessed she even knew my name.

Conformity is the expectation in high school, and it is not easy to live up to the ideal. I never felt worthy, and listening to classmates talk, I realized that I was far from alone in my insecurities.

The perceptions we form of ourselves and others in school deserve to be challenged, and a reunion is the perfect opportunity. Rather than walking away feeling even more insecure, I walked away feeling a little better about myself. That alone would have been reason enough to attend.

A class reunion offers us an opportunity to take a look at who we once were in light of who we are now. We can let go of our past insecurities, guilt or fears. We can present our older, wiser and more experienced selves.