Twenty Years After Graduation

My senior picture. Can you believe that perm?

Ten years ago, I was invited to attend my 10th high school reunion. But I declined.

Only four months had passed since I had gotten married and moved to Michigan. I was extremely homesick for my family and close friends, but I still declined. DW made it quite clear that he had no problem with me taking a few days and enjoying some Texas weather. My mom even said she would watch The Tortoise, who was three at the time, while I was attending. Financially, it would not have been a challenge. And yet, I declined.

“Oh, no, ” I insisted, “I don’t want to leave you here all alone. I have morning sickness. I don’t like flying. I have plans that weekend. Blah, blah, blah.”

The truth was, I was embarrassed. Ten years after graduation I believed I had made no real achievements. I dropped out of the music program and gave up my scholarship. Then it took me nine years to graduate college with an English degree. I had no career or even a job. I had spent a couple of years living with my parents while I finished college and raised my oldest daughter. For those first ten years after graduation I isolated myself from all of my childhood friends. I was 28, divorced, re-married with a three-year old from a failed marriage and newly pregnant, so none of my clothes fit. The last thing I wanted to do was open myself up to a roomful of individuals and justify the last ten years of my life. Especially the very people who remembered me being a much thinner, articulate, perky, high-energy band geek that had big plans for her future. None of which came to fruition.

College graduation with my best friend, who will also be my date for my reunion weekend.

This October will be my 20th high school reunion. There will be a pep-rally, a family dinner, a homecoming game, a tour of our newly rebuilt school and a main event complete with dinner and dancing. This time, however, there was no hesitation. I accepted and immediately purchased my tickets. The funny thing is, nothing has changed. I am still a divorced, re-married mother of two, who does not have a steady job and can’t fit in to most of her clothes. My perspective is different. Now I am proud of being a college graduate, regardless of how long it took me to graduate. I am thankful that I get to stay home with my kids because no paycheck could be big enough to replace having lunch with my children or going on a field-trip. I am grateful that I don’t have a punch-card schedule to keep me from doing the things I am most passionate about and every pound on this body is a reward for celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, having dinner and drinks with my friends, eating raw cookie dough with my girls or pizza on Friday nights with their friends and downing buckets of popcorn and hot pretzels while I cheer for soccer, swimming or gymnastics.

High school reunions are not about boasting or showcasing our achievements. They aren’t opportunities to “show-up” those girls who snubbed us years ago, or prove to some boy he missed out on an amazing woman. Reunions aren’t about sliding back into our teen-selves and recreating the same childish clicks we adhered to in our youth. They are about coming together as more compassionate, more honest, more tolerant and wiser adults to share in fellowship. After all, didn’t we spend four years together trying to figure out friendships, relationships, heartaches, failures and successes. We spent four years shedding our youth and trying on our futures. We spent four years trying to figure out how to be enough. It would be awesome to come back and say to one another, “yes, you are enough.”

We were then.

We are now.

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About My Pajama Days

I am Emily Okaty Wilson, freelance writer, blogger and public speaker. It sounds better than saying I stay in my pajamas all day eating salt and vinegar chips. I claim to be a wife, a mother, a homeschool teacher and a musician. Sometimes I'm funny.
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16 Responses to Twenty Years After Graduation

  1. Wow! Love that. >>> “We spent four years shedding our youth and trying on our futures. We spent four years trying to figure out how to be enough.” How true is that? It’s all about our attitudes and our own self worth. Isn’t it great to realize that you’ve been “enough” this whole time? Wonderful post!

  2. The Purposeful Practices Project says:

    Good for you! I didn’t attend my 10 year reunion for similar reasons. Last month I also didn’t attend my 20 year reunion for similar reasons. I regretted it from the moment I RSVP’d no, yet I still didn’t go. My perspective has changed a lot since I left Alabama, but apparently not enough. Good for you!!

  3. I went to my 10 year reunion. It was good and it was weird. It ended up putting to rest some old hang-ups that I had with a few people. Seeing that they had grown out of the high school stereotypes that they had filled really helped me to get over some stuff. Now that I’m a little closer to 20 yrs., I’m excited for it. In part because many of us are now friends on facebook.

  4. juliemoore says:

    Girl you are ENOUGH and I’m glad you know it! I’m so proud of the new perspective you have on life and it gives me inspiration to think about going to my reunion this year, also in Oct. I hadn’t decided if I would go or not. Loved this post.

  5. This post hits home to me. I just got a message on Facebook yesterday about my high school reunion and I hesitate. I went two years ago while I was still married so to come as a divorcee feels harder this time around and knowing that I would be the only one out of my class of 94 that had gone through divorce and living a single mom life now feels hard. Not sure if I’m mentally ready but your post speaks volume to me. Maybe I shouldn’t be embarrassed about my new status and just embrace it knowing I am doing enough. Thank you so much!

  6. I went to a small alternative highschool so we never had the traditional homecoming games and such. I hope you have a great time at your reunion.

  7. I have yet to attend any reunion. Honestly, the people I liked in my grade I still keep in touch with and the rest, I really don’t care to know.

    The biggest issues is I can’t go to the reunion for the year ahead of me. That was the class that contained 90% of my friends and the one I would love to hang out with again.

    Plus, they keep having them in mid August in Iowa, which is pretty darn miserable….

    Can we hang out on a Friday night? It sounds ideal.

    • comingeast says:

      My high school finally held a reunion for a decade. Anyone who graduated in the 1960′s was invited, which meant I would have gone with my brother, had we gone. I think the organizers thought that a lot of us are getting so old, they don’t know how much longer we would be able to travel to a reunion!

  8. mommakiss says:

    I’m so glad you’re going. I’ve heard good things about these “reunions” {heard because I’ve never gone – and my 20 is next summer}

    Have fun and be proud of who you are.

  9. angela says:

    I love this post :) I haven’t gone to any of my reunions, either, but this makes me want to go to my next one!

  10. comingeast says:

    You’ve always been more than enough for your dad and me!

  11. Sendie-Lou says:

    I love this, what an inspirational writting! It is easier to look at things that we don’t have and forget the blessing that we have around us. Just like you said no paycheck big enough to compare with the precious time spend with the kids. Kuddos for you. I’m sure you will have tons of fun at your reunion. :)

  12. Charity says:

    I also skipped my first two reunions as I was not where I wanted to be in life. And honestly, I don’t regret not going, though my reason was silly. High School was not that great and there was just nothing back there. I might go to my next one because I am so crazy proud of my husband and three kids, They are an amazing joy in my life! Thank you for your amazing comment on my blog about my daughter’s homework project. As I struggled with how much to help her, I told myself, I bet the teacher will be okay with it, knowing that daughter did most of the work herself…

  13. I LOVE this post. I’m constantly focusing on what I DON’T have instead of what I DO. I’m forever berating myself for not making use of my (very expensive) college degree. I complain about my job CONSTANTLY (even though, without it, I wouldn’t have the time to do what I love most–writing.) This post was a reminder that I absolutely needed. Thank you so much for that!!

  14. Melissa says:

    I didn’t go to my 10 year reunion for similar reasons. My 6 year marriage had crumbled around me only months before and I had no interest in “faking” a good life at that moment. Also, my graduating class had 450 people. Of those 450, I still hang out with the handful of friends I now call my family. I had no reason to pay $75 for light hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar to see people I wasn’t friends with 10 years before. Not to mention i had a 1 year old’s birthday party to attend. She is my best friend’s (from 4th grade) little one. WAY more important!
    Glad to hear you are going to your 20. I might go to mine… but I will just have to wait and see.

  15. Miriam says:

    This post be proper inspirin’, like! And I be a pirate, for it be Talk Like a Pirate Day, so I be sorry fer me speech and I hope you don’t be offended, for I means no harm. I be sendin’ this in a bottle to many of me mateys!

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