I said, “It’s weird how so many people just look EXACTLY the same. The only people who really look different were [person A] and maybe [person B].” My friend paused and added “Well, and you.”
Oh, right. I forgot about me.
If television has taught me anything, it’s that the whole point of high school reunions is to (a) feel bad about being single and (b) gloat about who got fat. This was me in high school.
While I now realize that real life is not the same as television, and that the vast majority of people there are nice, good people who are too busy catching up on the last 10 years to really give a shit who may have put on a few pounds, I have to admit that I wanted to look good for the reunion. I would’ve loved to be able to walk in there at last fall’s weight, but going in there like this was still pretty damn good.
And here’s one from far away when I didn’t know I was in a picture.
I wasn’t one of the cool kids in high school. But I also can’t say I identify with being bullied, for two reasons. One was that for the most part, kids at my school were pretty nice. The biggest “popular crowd” were popular because they were so nice and well liked, and were a part of a ton of extracurricular activities. They played sports, but also did some of the music or theater related stuff I did. Sure, there were some snobby jerks, but they were the minority and not terribly vocal.
But also, I was extremely lucky to have an amazing group of super weird friends. Did you ever watch a movie about high school like Never Been Kissed where the nerds were all completely ridiculous, and say “Okay, no one was really THAT WEIRD”? Well, we were.
On the way to the reunion, we were talking about how we were sort of immune to bullying because we just OWNED IT. “Of course I have tinsel duct-taped to my skirt. It’s December, duh, how else do I show my holiday spirit?” “Why yes, we would love to dress up in period clothing and sing old Christmas carols a capella at the museum.” “I made up a story about our group of friends to help us remember the chemical processes of photosynthesis for AP bio.” You can’t make fun of someone for doing something weird when they’re so proud of it.
One of my favorite post-high school moments came only about 2 months after graduation. I was at Starbucks with a few friends while we were home from college on break, and one of the nice-popular girls came up to us. She said, “It’s so awesome that you guys are all here together. I was so jealous of you guys in high school because you were always having the best time and not pretending, and I can’t say how happy I am to never have to pretend to like [redacted, asshole-snobby-girl] ever again.” It was like a moment out of a movie that every parent tells every awkward 15 year old will happen one day, but almost never does.
Avoiding being bullied didn’t mean avoiding feeling like a bit of an outcast. Even though I wouldn’t trade my weirdness for the world (I mean, even 10 years later my halloween costume was a frog pun…) it felt pretty good to show up to the reunion looking good and finally have confidence in my looks to match the confidence in my awesome friends and quirks.