This weekend is one of my significant high school reunions and today was the first luncheon. I think about 15 classmates showed up to this event- there will be more later as the whole weekend is full.
The last one I went to was the tenth and it was quite an unpleasant experience for me. I was quite angst ridden and felt a bit ashamed of my lack of accomplishment, lack of college degree and the fact that I was an unmarried mother of three who would rather not go into the details of that- not that I was ever ashamed of my children or how they were conceived but I didn't feel like letting myself in for the inevitable judgment to follow. I don't think it was the unmarried part- more the single mother part- and not in a way I was ashamed of that- but that I had to bother to explain it to anyone.
If I wanted to, I could elicit sympathy for my situation and make you understand why I was where I was but I cared not for sympathy and had enough pride to feel as if I was not going to tolerate condescension. Back then it was- don't you dare put me in a box.
But since then, I have discovered there were at least three other girls pregnant senior year- I was the only one who actually gave birth... ah, secrets... I don't have many of those, never cared for them.
I find this reunion is different for many reasons. First, I love who I am, I love what I do and even if I wasn't married, that wouldn't matter. Even if I didn't have my college degree, I don't think that would matter either. I am seeing friends I didn't see at the last reunion and I am seeing women for the first time be who they became.
I want to talk to everyone- even if we are profoundly different. I have little anger or resentment left towards the bullies- though they might have seen through who they are and my words will be truthful with them- part of me is grateful for the shape they have given my spunky nature. If I hadn't had anyone to stand up to, I doubt I would have known how to stand up when the time came.
The adversity they put me through has grown me into a person who is stronger and bolder than I could ever have imagined. My voice doesn't shake any more.
I continue to tell the truth of who I am and to do it with love for who I am. I am blessed to have found some amazing people there- and this time I have some real friends there and a sense of humor. These things that would have mortified me, I find myself smiling through. Gosh, it is so funny that I was ever the least bit intimidated by any of it. I look forward to peeling back the onion of who is there now.
I'm joyful about this weekend. I think for a while I was living in that void between worlds- tied to the past of who I was and still trying to prove that I deserved to be there. Be where? I wonder. It's all so silly now. That little girl has grown up and I love the story of how I got there. I can't wait to see who these girls have become.
I no longer see the mean girls. I see girls who were insecure about who they were and terrified of not fitting in. Making a lot of noise so someone would hear them. I look forward to hearing these voices of these women.
My voice was silent then, I kept it inside- writing quietly, working through those fears and anxieties.
Already I see some who are profoundly the same. And I see some that are incredibly different.
I was really intimidated last time around with these eyes around me- I wasn't sure what it was. I think I had already decided they were something they weren't before I walked in the room. Maybe I was right but I don't feel like I have to protect myself any more.
I don't know what it is that has changed. It's strange not to be afraid. It's wonderful to have a voice that belongs to me. Maybe that it is that I don't care, though I am not sure that I ever did. It was always my own definition of self worth that I lived by.
I never compared myself to my classmates- it was always my own temperature I was taking. I think this decade has liberated me in a way that only time can accomplish. I feel so much that I am on the right track for what I want to do. So I embrace this new experience- this fusion of past with present- this new feeling of confidence. I look forward to the rest of the events.