Saturday, 3 June 2017

My high school reunion is tomorrow night

How do you invent Post-It notes in 24 hours?

For those who don’t follow my Snapchat and Instagram stories, I've been talking lately that my high school reunion is coming up, (it's now tomorrow night), and yes, I’m freaking out.

This is a difficult post to share, because it’s so deep and personal, and even still, I’m barely scratching the surface of everything that’s in my mind. 

Okay, my entire blog is deep and personal :) but in the sharing stakes, this is still one step further than I’ve been before.

I’ve known about this event for at least 6 months, when I first got that Facebook invitation with the words that make many adults….ummm, feel a wide range of emotions…. or in my case, freak the fuck out and want to run screaming to the hills.  ("High School Reunion.”) 

What hills?  I don’t know.  But nowhere near the reunion, that’s for sure.

I’ve been worrying about this event for the entire 6 months.  One of my school friends that I still catch up with is the organiser, and I asked her over a teary coffee catch up one night, “Why did you make it in June?”

She explained that it was far enough ahead that people could plan in advance, book travel if needed, make arrangements, save up.

I looked at her, perplexed.  “No, I mean why did you make it in June, and not later, in November, because we graduated school in November – that’s the real anniversary?”  I was meaning the opposite to what she thought.  Time wise, I didn’t mean, why was it so far out, I meant why didn’t you give me an extra 5 months to get my life to a point where I feel confident in rocking up??  Dude!  Don’t short change me!

I had to do all of the ‘high school reunion things’:

  1. Get married / engaged / find a long term partner / find a partner
  2. Have babies
  3. Buy a house
  4. Lose 50kg
  5. And invent Post-It notes!
She explained that later in the year gets so busy with end of year functions, Christmas events, kids sporting commitments, graduations, break-up parties etc. etc. etc.  I understood her reasoning, and Kas is an absolute champ for taking on this task for all of us.

But on the inside, I was screaming for myself and freaking out.

Jump forward a few months, and I’m no closer to getting proposed to, am not knocked up, owning my own home is still a long distant future possibility, I’ve put on weight, and don’t get me started on those Post-It notes.

Now, for those few who believe everything they read (like me, haha), I list these things partly in jest, of course.  There’s no rule book stating where you need to be in life, at certain stages, nor what you need to achieve.  So if you don't already, please ‘get’ my writing style and don’t think that that’s my real list.  [Disclaimer over.]

No-one cares where you’re at, and if they do, it’s none of our business.

Success is individually defined, and that right there is the reason that I’ve worked myself up so much about tomorrow night.  And to be honest, ‘success’ is not the right word to describe how I’ve been feeling.  It’s not about ‘success’ at all.

The pointy end of the whole matter is; I’m not where I want to be, at this stage of my life.  It’s my own insecurities that I’m scared of, or sad about.  It’s something that I have to deal with and feel myself, and work on changing every day – and I do.  But to feel that in a room full of people who I haven’t seen since I was 16….

While I think it’s natural to compare yourself and where Hollywood movies make us believe that school reunions are all about sizing each other up, it’s not so much about that for me.  In the digital age, where so many of us are Facebook friends with half of our grade and anyone connected to the internet are unofficial private investigators (aka stalkers), it’s easy to know where everyone’s at, on a surface level, anyway.

For me, it’s about facing up and being starkly reminded of what I’m still working on.  And to add an extra layer, just for fun, I’m someone who is currently uncomfortably obese, who wasn’t obese in Year 12, and as a result, have near crippling social anxiety.

Every time I share in my Coco Girl social media that I’m embarrassed about my weight, I get people commenting that I shouldn’t be, that I should embrace my size, and that they can’t stand the fact that I “hate my body”.  One of my next posts is going to be about this very subject, so I won’t get started now on how much this riles me up… but I just need to mention briefly here, that I do not hate my body.  I feel uncomfortable in it, at this size.  There is a vast difference.

Anyway, moving on…

I’m friends with quite a few people from school, and out of them mainly catch up with a core group – there’s 4 of us (plus (their) add-ons – hubbies, boyfriends, kids, dogs)).  We spoke at length about the impending reunion, and agreed to go if we all go.

And ultimately, we have all decided to go.

Even me.

You’re probably reading so far, thinking, “if it makes you so freaked out, why put yourself out there?  Why go?  You don’t have to!”

You’re right – I don’t.  I’m lucky enough to have the freedom to choose, and as an independent woman, I can make the decision not to go.  Besides, we have to pay $30 for this pleasure!

If I thought it was going to do any damage, then I wouldn't be going.  But as much as I have horrendous social anxiety, and as much as I feel grossly uncomfortable; I somehow have enormous inner strength and foresight, and rarely let it stop me from doing significant things that I might regret later in life.

I don’t want to look back in 20 years’ time, and regret not going because my confidence was at an all-time low, at that point in my life.  I want to experience everything I can, even though sometimes those things might be temporarily painful.  I think the rewards (eventually, at least), will outweigh the anxiety that I’ll be feeling tomorrow night – (and have done for 6 months).  If the only thing holding me back is fear, then that's when I need to step up and be brave.

When the event was 6 months away, and my friends and I were deliberating on whether we were going, I felt some hope that I could at least lose a significant amount of weight, just to a point I felt comfortable and confident.  About a month ago, it hit me that, well, the reunion was a month away.  And I realised that:

  1. It was going to be fairly difficult to get married when I don’t have a boyfriend,
  2. There wasn’t enough time to get and be pregnant for long enough to be able to both know and safely announce it within 4 weeks,
  3. My bank balance was not at a house deposit stage,
  4. It was impossible to lose 50kg without some serious limb chopping,
  5. And I was still no closer to working out that you could raise the viscosity of your resin to develop Post-It glue.
I've definitely been affected by what I call "Bridesmaid Syndrome" this year (I explain what that is in this post).  I updated my monthly weigh in picture today and it visually confirmed that!  Check this out:

Uhh, yeah.

While my other school friends said that they’re not interested, and prefer to look forward rather than back, the group of 4 of us agreed to go, RSVP’d, and paid.

It was around this time that reality set in.  One day I mentioned to my GP that I had my reunion coming up, and for some reason I found myself tearing/welling up, every time I thought about it after that.  We were talking about something else, but my reunion kept popping into my mind, and my eyes would instantly glisten, while I blinked back tears….!

It was in this moment that I realised, that the reason I was so anxious about going, was because I was going to be turning up somewhere, one night soon, and saying "this is me".  And almost instantaneously, I knew that I wasn't so much scared about being vulnerable in front of my school mates, I was scared because I realised that this would be the night that I would be facing... myself.  And being forced into accepting where I am, and facing who I am.  I always wear my heart on my sleeve - I don't know how else to operate.  So it's not like I go around pretending I'm someone that I'm not.  (Except when I'm onstage!)

But as much as I'm great at wearing my heart on my sleeve and baring all; I'm also great at getting overwhelmed, and figuratively covering my ears and eyes, singing "lalalalalalalalala, can't hear you!"

So this was my moment of truth, in the doctors office, realising what it was in particular that I was scared about.  I'm still totally terrified about the whole thing but this will probably be really good for me: facing up to... myself.

I have my support group, my girls, so I'll have them to hold my hands.  And we're meeting at my place to go together - I think they knew that I'm the one having a third-life-crisis about this so they chose my place :)  One of us is pregnant so she's our driver, so I can do my annual night of drinking, to bolster up the courage that I'm going to need.  (I rarely drink - I maybe have a decent drinking night maybe once a year).  Tomorrow will be 2017's night, lol!

One thing that has helped calm me slightly about it this week and give me a different perspective, is speaking to a couple of older friends.  I was chatting to a work colleague last week.  She's about 10-15 years older than me, and it dropped into conversation that I have "The Event" to go to.  She told me about her recent reunion, and how much she loved it.  And she said a few things that stuck in my mind.

She said to "get guzzied up and get your hair done and you'll have a ball".  I didn't say it out loud but I wanted to say "lovely, no amount of 'guzzying up' is going to hide my obesity, or give me the confidence I crave."

Snapchat this week: why are everyone staring?
But the mention of hair... I realised that that was a key thing I could do to help me with my confidence.  I texted my hairdresser because it's been 8 months since my last trim (whoops!  I'm a very low maintenance female when it comes to hair) and asked if she had availability tomorrow, for a trim AND straighten, and she does!  Straightening my hair gives me so much more confidence, and having a professional doing it will make that confidence even higher.  So the extra $10 to straighten will (of course) be worth every cent!

I don't know exactly what I'm going to wear, but it will be whatever I feel the most comfortable in, and yes, it will be black.  Wearing a new grey and black stripey coloured top this week had everyone staring, so it's back to the more slimming black until I lose a bit of weight. :(

When my girls asked what we wear wearing, I sent them these 3 pictures, so keep in mind that my black uniform is a positive decision. ;)


We did joke about wearing fake bellies to match our friend!  For about the same amount of time I thought about hiring an escort haha.

With the pregnant belly, I know what I would look like, too.  Well, not at this weight.  This is me playing a pregnant woman in a play - when I was much smaller.  I've been looking through the photos tonight, and they've been making me smile - I adored that play and loved how confident I felt at that size.

Me on the right, playing a pregnant woman in 2008


In labour onstage
Another thing my older work colleague told me, was about how when she turned up to her reunion, she heard of 7 of her classmates that had passed away since school.  She said it was such a shock for her to hear, and it made her realise she was fortunate to still be around to even attend.  And in turn, it of course made me instantly realise that I too, am lucky to be here and be able to attend.  

I know of a few school mates who have tragically passed away already, so young.  One school mate I met when I was 4, had even RSVP'd to tomorrow's event.  I saw her comments on some earlier posts, discussing the plans, and extremely sadly she's since passed away.  I'll raise a glass to her tomorrow night.

And then my work colleague wisely reminded me that "everyone has their thing".  And I realised she's absolutely right.  Here I am, worrying about my "things".  But I'm not dumb enough to think that everyone has their shit together.  It just feels that way.  Glossy social media highlight reels don't show the anguish, sadness and struggles behind closed doors.  I know it's out there.  I'm not ignorant to that stuff, but man was it good to get a reminder.

Another thing that helped was when my friend announced that there were 43 people going.  I reasoned that 4 of those people were us, 1 was Kas, and another maybe 15 I'm Facebook friends with.  So that left only about 23 people that I have to face, even less if some bring partners!  My face changed when she then said it was 47, and I think the last count was 51 or something.  Noooo!  Lol.  But glass half full, I'm not thinking about the 50 people that I will be seeing, but the 300 that I won't be!  (There were
Another one of my plays, we did the 'Romy and Michele dance' :)
about 350 in our grade).

Hopefully I'm not sounding like I have awful classmates or anything!  Quite the opposite.  It's just my nerves.  And the thing is, our last reunion was SO much fun.  I was nervous, but I had a ball.  So I'm sure tomorrow night can be the same.  We're also that little bit older and wiser at this one.

I am definitely thinking more positively about it than I have for the past 6 months, that's for sure.  That's not to mention I won't need my girlfriends and alcohol and to keep my head held high tomorrow night.  But I'm not in a total freak out mode.  Maybe not so coincedantally, my self esteem has been at an all time low lately.  It's also been a big week and I've been upset, extremely stressed and anxious about other things, so hopefully I can contain my emotions and just have a fun night out.  The last thing I need is to be the drunk crying girl from Year 12 days haha!

As I type this from the comfort of my bed, in my pyjamas, in my safe space, a whole day
before, it's easy to sound all cool about it.  I'm sure there'll be anxiety tomorrow.  But I'll be putting myself out there, and being brave.  This might sound dramatic, but tomorrow will be one of the bravest things I've ever done.

What's more brave than accepting and being yourself?

My personal list is just that, and it will be done in my personal time.  (See my quote I put up on Instagram this week, to the left?)  We all have one.  Or sixty-two.

Also, not that comparisons are at all useful and I've established that it's not about sizing each other up, but if I'm being cheeky, I have to share that I'm a year younger than everyone in our grade.  It sucked when they were all turning 17 (license) and 18 (clubbing), but as we get older it now always works in my favour, and I remind them of that all the time haha.  So my point being, if I am getting technical, really, I have another year to catch up.) ;)

Anyway, I've got my girls, I'll have some drinks, and I've got myself.  Take it or leave it Kate, this is me.

And, while I may not have invented Post-It notes, if all else fails, I definitely own a mobile phone, if anyone needs to make a call. :)

Wish me luck!

P.S. I loved this play and the photos made me smile so much tonight that it was hard to choose, so here's a few more, predominately for my own viewing pleasure ;)


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