High School Reunion: Friend or Foe?
July 1, 2013 by Debra Hennesy
Filed under Anxiety, Body Image, Depression, Empowerment, Expressive Arts, Fat Acceptance, Fat Talk, Featured, Guys, Loving Your Body, Mental Health, Mindfulness, Obesity, Self Esteem, Self-Acceptance, Self-Care, Self-Compassion, Stress Management, Weight Stigma, Wellness, Wellness, Yoga, Yoga and Meditation
About a year ago, I was approached by my high school class president about heading up a committee for our class reunion (okay, I actually brought the subject up to him, so technically I volunteered…WHY do I bring these things on myself?!). Fast-forward 6 months, and things were shaping up well, including my creating a page on Facebook for us all to “check in”, discuss times, places, and the details of the weekend’s events.
The reunion is scheduled for August, so we are now within the 2-month time-frame. RSVP’s have been sparse, and we as a committee are not sure why…this reunion is a big milestone, and it’s being held around the same time that our previous ones have been held. Recently I have noticed some nervous chatter among my peers; people are anxious about their appearance (Not just women, mind you! Plenty of men have joined in!). It struck me that we as a society tend to use events as “goals” for weight loss: weddings, beach vacations, and yes, what appears to strike fear into many hearts, the dreaded high school reunion! I’ve even heard someone say “I’m not going unless I lose 20 pounds”…what?! Were we as a class that judgmental, and/or is that person so insecure that he/she wouldn’t feel comfortable attending without a dramatic change? Why is it that, for certain events, we feel like we need to become someone we’re not?
OK, I hear you saying “But we all want to put our best foot forward!”, and I agree…heck, I have had my hair appointment scheduled for over a month, and I’ll probably spend a few days at the pool with my son the week before to have that “summer glow”. But it bothers me that we’re almost EXPECTED to look to these elusive dates as if some magical transformation should occur…that we’re not comfortable enough in our own skin to simply look forward to an event, rather than focusing so much on our physical appearance.
Which presents several questions: what, then, happens AFTER the event? Do we go back to the way we were before, or stay in that “shiny new state”? And, whatever we choose, how do we feel about it? Have we changed how we feel on the inside? Does the focus shift to ANOTHER aspect of ourselves that isn’t “good enough”? Is this a cycle that is destined to repeat itself throughout life as long as there are events on the horizon?
This gives us an excellent opportunity to practice what yoga teaches us: to be mindful of each moment. Not to dwell on the past (“Oh, if only I could fit into the size I wore in high school now! Those were the days!”) or worry about the future (“Only two more weeks until the reunion? Wow, I’d better cut those carbs now so I can fit into my dress!”), but to be content with what is happening in each moment, and who we are right NOW. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t pay attention to our appearance at all…by all means, do what makes you feel good about yourself, and don’t starve yourself to attain an unrealistic goal…be healthy, but most of all, be happy!
Now, I can’t guarantee that there won’t be “cliques” or judgment at YOUR reunions! However, I have personally found that with each one we have, and each decade that passes, there are fewer cliques and less judgment…I think we’re learning that what seemed so important in our teen years is fleeting. I hope that, as a class, we can come together and enjoy spending time with each other, rather than passing judgment. If I could get my whole class in on this, I could say that we ALL practice yoga…and THAT would be cool indeed!
So, to those of you Valley High School Tigers who have not yet RSVP’ed, or are hesitant to come because of anxiety over what others will think of you, I say: close your eyes for a moment and repeat after me, “Whatever is happening in my life right now, I am perfect just as I am.” If you have an event you are dreading because of your appearance, repeat after me, “I do not need to look elsewhere for approval, because I am perfect just as I am.” The regrets we have tend to be over those things we DIDN’T do, not the things we were brave enough to do. Take a deep breath, and live your life!
Debra Hennesy is the founder and owner of Feel Your Best, LLC, an organization that trains people to become instructors of yoga, Pilates, stress management, as well as yoga therapists. Colorado is the location of her newest adventures, along with her husband and active 6-year-old son.