I am about to attend my 20 year high school reunion, and I have to have my sh*t together.
Botox injections: check.
Haircut and highlight: check.
Weigh less than I did when graduated high school: check (I even have the flat stomach).
Get cool life stories in order (flying a plane, getting scuba license, becoming a writer): check.
This is the first reunion I am choosing to attend. I wasn’t even invited to my 10 year reunion (a long story I don’t feel like going into. How’s that for high school all over again!?). But the more I thought about attending, the more tension and anxiety I felt building in my chest.
I began to get curious about my reaction to going to see all these people I’ve been seeing on Facebook for years now. True, I haven’t seen them in person for 20 years, but it’s not like I don’t know who they are now. Many of them have been nothing but nice to me since reconnecting and becoming “friends” again on Facebook. So why was my body so stressed? Why the anxiety?
I was extremely present to dreading the following questions: Are you married? Do you have children? What do you do for a living?
It was not so much the questions I was anxious about, but the answers I would be giving. No, I’m not married. Unfortunately, I’ve met quite a few Almost Maybes, but not The One. No, I don’t have children and I’m not even sure I want any.
None of the questions even represent who I am as a person. Can we talk about that instead? Will I be judged for where I am in my life, where I live, that I am single and what I do for a living? Will I be judged for wanting instead to discuss who I am as a person and what I’m passionate about? For example, I do love being an aunt. I like what I do and I’m good at it.
My heart pounds as my mind floods with memories.
I was not Homecoming or Prom Queen, nor was I popular. I also was not Class President, fashionista, teacher’s pet, the brainiac, or one half of the “it” couple (although I wanted to be). Who was I?
Does anyone know who they are when they’re 18? Who I remember being is this: a girl, who since the age of 10, had three best friends, who she still has to this day. I partied, I was on the track team, I got detention (a few times). I was wild, I was funny, I cut class, and I had no idea who I was or who I was going to become. I may have even earned myself a reputation. I lost my virginity when I was 15 on a school trip to Germany. To be honest, I didn’t even care. I wasn’t thinking about consequences in my high school years.
There are two other things I notice.
1. I’m afraid I will be judged for who I was 20 years ago. I’m fearful people will see me solely for who I was and what I did back then. I’m afraid they’ll think I haven’t changed (or, maybe I’m afraid I think I haven’t).
2. I know many of us watch each other on Facebook. Will people think they know who I am just by looking at my page and by what I post? I hope not. While Facebook is a great way to reconnect and see who is aging well and who isn’t, it’s not everything. Who has a gorgeous family filled with love and who is living the single life? Is that really the entirety of who any of us are?
I know I only put up what I want people to see, and I assume that’s what everyone else does as well. So, while I see some great photos and status updates, I can tell you that is not fully who I am as a human being. It’s an image of who I want people to see. I don’t want to be judged for that. I want everyone to know who I really am and celebrate that.
It took me a while to figure out what was underneath the fear and nervousness. Now that I know, I have the opportunity to make a choice. I can make the choice a 38-year-old woman would make rather than an 18-year-young girl. I can choose who I’m going to be when I walk though those door on the evening of my reunion.
So on November 23, I will choose to walk in being exactly who I am. I will walk with some of my oldest friends, as well as newer ones who are also very dear to me. I will walk without pretending to be someone I am not: I’m a woman who does get botox, who does care about her weight, who yes, just had her hair done, and who honestly has some pretty great life stories. I will walk in content with everything I am and everything I’m not.
If people want to judge me for that, so be it. At least it won’t be an image they’re judging. Because I will walk through those doors being exactly who I am: me.
Sandy Rosenblatt graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a degree in health and human development (family studies) and a minor in women studies. She also serves as Executive Director of an assisted living home, overseeing care and treatment for people suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. Sandy is an adventure junkie with a soft-but no-nonsense coaching style, who drives her students to improve themselves even when their own insecurities are holding them back. When coaching, she applies “a strong hand in a velvet glove.”
Editor: Elysha Anderson