High School Reunions: Lessons I’ve Learned

Lessons Learned Production

On Saturday, I received a Facebook message from one of my high school friends entitled: “No! Not 30!”

I thought this was a bit odd. Like me, her 30th birthday came and went a few years back… It wasn’t until I opened the message that I realised it was something much more surprising:

Our 30th High School Reunion

While this might bring up some pretty strong emotions for some of you, I wanted to share a few lessons I’ve learned 30 years after leaving high school.  These lessons are the reason why I’ve attended every single reunion, and won’t be missing out on this one either!

Lesson #1: There are different sides to the coin

It was 1987 when I graduated from St Mary’s College in Ipswich. While I definitely have a few more wrinkles and some extra KGs since then, I also have wonderful stories, a beautiful marriage, career achievements and plenty of travel memories to share.

In business, as in life, it’s easy to become fearful of what you don’t know. If you’ve seen the movie Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, you will understand that the concept of seeing former classmates 10 years on can be debilitating.  There’s so much:

  • Fear of not having lived up to expectations and achievements.
  • Fear from unhappy memories of school and perhaps bullying
  • Fear of looking and being different
  • Fear of not having seen these people in years.

It’s important to remember that there is another side of that coin. Yes, the concept of seeing former classmates can be scary, but it can also be a time to embrace who you are. Our alumni class was filled with some of the finest women I know, and a reunion is a chance to celebrate the strong beautiful women we have become.

Lesson #2: Curiosity motivates the cat

When my 10-year High School Reunion came around, I definitely had some reservations about attending.  Even though I generally had happy memories of high school, they were, after all, our teenage years and things weren’t always harmonious. Would I go?

I went back and forth in my mind for weeks, but, in the end, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided I would go (with the knowledge that if I decided it wasn’t for me, I’d leave early).

It turned out to be one of the best nights of my life, spent catching up with so many people, looking at photos of weddings, kids, travels, hearing about careers and swapping contact details to stay in touch. Everyone had a genuine desire to be inclusive and to share experiences – it was a beautiful thing (if not a bit noisy!).

If I hadn’t let curiosity motivate me to go, I never would have had the experience of seeing all of those amazing women who have now become such an important part of my life.

Lesson #3: You never know what’s around the corner

Every time a reunion is around the corner, the excitement of catching up is almost palpable.  Every time, even though some alumni are overseas, as soon as the date is announced, they’ve already started organising flights home for the event.

At the 10-year reunion, not everyone was there, but at least 80% of our alumni came.  I am forever grateful that I attended, because a month later one of our class tragically died in an accident. We all miss her terribly, even today, and we’re so thankful we all got to see her one last time at that reunion.

You never know what’s around the corner, and by letting your fears get in the way, you miss out on opportunities that may never come around again.

Lesson #4: Embrace Technology

For our 20-year reunion, Facebook had just come into its own and quickly became the best method of staying in touch and swapping contact details. Some embraced it straight away, whereas some are still hesitant to get onto ‘Stalkbook‘ – particularly with a cyber-privacy article in the news every other day.

Within seconds of receiving the message on Saturday, my phone started pinging. TheOl’ Girls’ network came alive.  A private FB group was started, high school photos were uploaded (yep even with cringe-worthy 80s hair styles and fashion) and we all started adding everyone we were in contact with to the group. There is now a comprehensive list, with tagging, of alumni including maiden and married names.

We have found 70 alumni members and a list of about 30 who are MIA. The ‘Ol’ Girls’ network is busy reaching out through social media trying to locate these women to bring them back in contact. We have already moved 5 from the MIA list to the group.  Pretty amazing when you think all this was achieved within 48 hours!

All of this would have taken months without Facebook.  While Facebook has its faults, it does a lot of good and I could not imagine my life without it.  While I would always advise to use technology with caution, I also know that I would have missed out on many priceless moments, experiences and friendships if I avoided it because I was afraid.

Lesson #5: Take the Risk

This month’s Dossier is dedicated to friends who are no longer with us and to celebrating that we made it to 30 years. What I learned is that whether it’s changes to your body, your business or the method in which you stay in touch, feel the fear, embrace the changes and take a risk.

I can’t pretend that every decision I’ve made has been the right one, but I know that my life and my business are a lot richer for having taken a chance once in a while. Am I ready for the 30-Year Reunion? Or future reunions?


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