12 Most Nostalgic Reasons to Attend Your High School Reunion

12 Most Nostalgic Reasons to Attend Your High School Reunion

“High school reunion.”

When those three words pop up on your computer or arrive via postcard, your reaction will be one of two things: Sign me up! or No way in Hell!

Having just returned from my own reunion, I want to nudge you toward the former. I had a fabulous time and would have regretted this once-every-ten-year gathering of my big public high school had I not bought my ticket.  

Here are the 12 Most Nostalgic Reasons to Attend Your High School Reunion:

1. Prom redux

Perhaps you remember your prom as a night of Cinderella-like splendor. No? Me neither. Looking back at yellowed photos, mine seemed more about blue eye shadow matching powder blue tuxedos. A reunion is a perfect time for a do-over. Splurge on an outfit you feel great in. Schedule a blow out and drop by the makeup bar. We’ve paid for our daughters to go all out for their proms, why not indulge ourselves?

 2. Music and dance

While fashion and make-up from another decade look dated, by definition, the music we loved in high school is locked in our brains as the best party tunes, ever. Grab your girlfriends and abandon self-consciousness. So what if your kids tell you your dancing is atrocious? They were not invited.

3. Release your inner 18-year-old

We are required to behave like responsible adults every single day. At work and as parents, we suck it up and play the role of adult. But, for one night, when neither boss nor kid will be there to demand your attention, channel a youthful vibe.  

 4. No strangers

Over the past decade, adults have flocked to Facebook. You can walk into a room of people you have not seen in person since you walked across the stage with your diploma and immediately jump into a conversation about their golf game or their child’s graduation. You may already know a tiny bit more than you want to about the guy who wore the pocket protector in his shirt but, feel free to ask him about the traffic in Austin or his company’s IPO.

 5. Network

You will find yourself in conversation with a classmate who has just returned from a Napa wine tour, which you have always wanted to do, and he will immediately text you the name of a charming hotel and his favorite vineyard. I discovered a classmate whose daughter is a sophomore at the college where mine will be a freshman. The six degrees of separation shrinks down to about three when you are in a room where everyone is the same age.

 6. Mysteries revealed

We may have all sat through classes at the same high school but how we lived our teenage years were infinitely diverse. I loved hearing stories from my classmates about shared experiences. They filled in some gaps and solved a few long-forgotten mysteries. Now I know who wrote that letter, who had a crush on whom…

 7. People don’t change

The yearbook photos served as our name tags. Sure, glasses now sit on noses, hair has turned grey (funny, mainly the guys), we have picked up a few pounds — but the smiles endure.  The eyes are the same. The sense of humor of the wise guy who drove your 10th grade US History teacher crazy, yes, that is still there, too.

 8. People do change

A big reason why people don’t return for their reunions is that they hated being in high school and why return to the scene of four years of misery? By now we know that teenagers all feel like losers and outsiders at some point in their young lives. Also, by now, you have long since shed your teenage self-doubt.   

9. See how the narrative played out

When we graduated from high school, some of us had definite career goals, others were madly in love. Years later, here is a chance to see if those high school romances blossomed into marriage (some did and, remarkably, the couples are still married). Did the more mature kids who already knew they wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer stick with it?

 10. Prepare to be surprised

While waiting in line for a glass of so-so red wine, you will find yourself in conversation with someone you knew, somewhat, during high school. That conversation will last for the entire drink because her story is fascinating and you would have never predicted she would live where she does and create the business she has.

11. The one who broke your heart

There was that one girl, who dumped you, or ignored you, despite the fervent crush you had on her all junior year! Maybe she will show up, too. Go ahead and give into your curiosity, peruse the list of attendees and seek her out.

12. Friends

This is, of course, the real reason you NEED to attend your reunion. If you are in touch with high school buddies, great, this will be a fun night with them. But friendships were more than your best friends. They were the kids you were on yearbook staff with, ones you were in elementary school with but drifted away from in middle school. Maybe you have no connection whatsoever with your high school and you have moved far away. There will be people who will remind you why you liked them so much when you were 16. You will still like them. There may be no better way to rediscover a friendship than at a high school reunion. This is the true party favor.

Photo credit: Big Stock Photos

Mary Dell Harrington


Mary Dell Harrington is one of the voices behind Grown and Flown: Parenting from the Empty Nest. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, she has her MBA from Harvard Business School and made her career in the media working for NBC and Lifetime. You can find Mary Dell on the Grown and Flown blog or on twitter and Facebook.

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