The friends you didn't choose
A strange and vivid memory from my pre-teen world view was thinking after high school life was pretty much over. It makes me laugh and shake my head a little to think about how naive and small my world was because I couldn’t imagine anything worthwhile in life beyond high school.
Even as a senior in high school if you had asked what life would look like in 20 years, I don’t think I would have guessed correctly about anything personal or professional.
I am happy to report that life has been bigger, better and crazier than I would have imagined; I attended and earned degrees from two universities, have lived at 16 addresses in six states, traveled to 17 countries around the world, worked for 11 companies, made my wildest dreams come true and learned what it takes to achieve greatness at something. There have also been hard times, failures and plenty of stress, but I learned from it all.
The best part of my life in the past two decades is the friends I have made along the way. I won’t extol the many virtues of my friends because we all think our friends are the best, but I know I have been blessed with a tribe of people who share my interests, values and ambitions. It took leaving my home town to find most of these people.
My graduating class had 52 kids in it. It was a given that you were friends with everyone more out of proximity than commonality. I knew some of my classmates much better than others, but I knew them all and considered them friends. Together, for better or worse, we spent 13 years learning, growing and playing.
This fall we have plans for a 20 year class reunion, and I am honestly excited. It may be a case of distance and time making my heart grow fonder but I can’t wait to hear about where their paths have taken them and who they have become. Even if I didn’t get much choice in my classmates, they still hold a special place in my heart; we lived too much life together not to care.
I know my perspective on class reunions is not shared by all people. It makes me a little sad to hear someone say they will never attend a reunion. I have never understood people who want nothing to do with their past or the others who feel pressure to look fabulously successful for a reunion.
The mean girls and rivalries of TV and movie high school reunions seem to be inflated. I believe in my heart that most people at a reunion are genuinely excited to see each other to catch up and share memories from their time together.
Maybe that’s all it really takes for a great reunion: people choosing to believe the best in their former classmates. We can all celebrate success, give an encouraging word of support, or reminisce about the memories of our youth.
For one day, we can rekindle relationships that helped us become who we are today, be grateful for our time together and enjoy the grace of time passed. I am choosing to believe in the goodwill and love of all friends, even if they aren’t the ones we chose.