From the Blog

I’m A Late Bloomer

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My 20th high school reunion was this year. As you might imagine, I didn’t go. Some people have fond memories of high school. I’m not one of those people. I was a nerd. I was sort of smart, but I got shitty grades. I wasn’t ugly or missing any important pieces, but I was skinny and awkward and I didn’t wear makeup. In the hierarchy of high school popularity, there was nothing worse than not fitting in.

Like most people, I would have much rather have been popular as a kid. I would have liked to be funny, to have friends, to be invited to hang out with the cool kids. That’s all anyone really wants. Now all the cool kids say they were nerds all along. Because everyone knows the popular kids in school are always the villains and bullies. No one remembers themselves that way, but someone was enforcing the hierarchy. Everyone wants to be a nerd now.

Having come through an awkward, nerdy adolescence, I eventually got comfortable feeling uncomfortable. I never became familiar with the standard measures of success. I never had the huge pressure to conform or feel like I needed to do what friends told me to do. I made more decisions on my own, instead of following the herd. If you’ve been rejected by the arbiters of convention, you don’t really have to follow their rules anymore. You get to do your own thing.

If I had “fit in,” back in my formative years, I think I probably would have wanted to continue fitting in. I would have been more concerned about following convention. I would have wasted a lot of time, trying to keep up. And as much as I desperately wanted to belong back then, it turned out so much better in the long run that I didn’t. I never would have guessed.

As adults, there are still many, many arbiters of convention telling us what we should be doing. The herd will still snap at you if you aren’t following them. But I’m still sort of a nerd, and now I’m an adult nerd. I’ve made most of my major life decisions with lots of thought and slow deliberation, instead of just following convention. I still do my own thing. It took me a while to realize it, but that’s the new “cool.”


  1. I went to my 10th reunion. I had been in contact with exactly ONE high school friend in the preceding 10 years. Since then, Facebook has sprung up. I have “friended” many of my former classmates. Then de-friended them. I *HAVE* re-made friends with one more old neighborhood friend thanks to Facebook. That’s it.

    I will not be attending my 20th.

  2. High School was not a fun time for me. I went to my 20th reunion and it was a lot like High School, no fun. Friends from HS didn’t seem to remember me. I didn’t remember some of them. I wavered on attending my 40th last year but decided “why bother” since I had not seen one classmate outside the 20th reunion in 40 years.

  3. Jim Sifferle says

    Awesome post! Love it!!! I didn’t go to my 10th, and probably won’t be going to my 20th. I’ve friended several classmates on Facebook, but had little contact outside the “Hey how have you been doing?” messages. Not that that’s bad… I’m happy living the life I live and don’t feel I’m missing out on anything.

  4. My 20th is next year, back in Ohio. (Doubt I’ll go due to distance.) Already I am shocked, simply SHOCKED, that 20 years have gone by. TWENTY YEARS!?!

  5. Yep, I can agree with you, I was a nerd too and had a few moments of “being cool” but ultimately, as following my own path. Not sure if I’ll go to my 20th, I might because it will be super entertaining in more ways than one.

  6. It’s been interesting seeing people from high school on facebook. It was one of the many reasons I avoided joining for a long time. Since I’ve moved around so much, seeing some of those names almost feels like someone else’s history, not mine.

    But there are some friends I miss, and it’s interesting to see where their lives have lead them. I’d much rather get cocktails with them separately and catch up, than go to a goddamned reunion.

  7. maybe i’m crazy but i liked high school. i mean, it sucked, yeah, but really, i had a good time. it was all angsty and stupid, but i cut school all the time, i had a car, i had friends, it was fun. i wasn’t part of the popular crowd, ie: cheerleader/jock crowd, but the stoner/field rat crowd is much more welcoming and forgiving. if you knew your metal music and let people bum cigarettes, you were pretty much in like flynn.
    i went to my 5, which was terrible, and then my 20th. mostly out of curiosity. it was interesting, kinda fun. and like i said on FB, i’ll go to my 30th because i am in touch with more of them now via FB. I recently spent the night with an HS friend. we talked for hours drank wine and had food, it was great. i think the thing to remember about the reunions is that as much as you have changed, so has everyone else. oh, and don’t bring your spouse… they are bored bored bored.

  8. Great post. I completely agree with you. A major consolation prize for being banished is that there’s no point in measuring up. Although I have to say, I have spent way too much time ruminating on whether I would have gone further if I’d known the codes and hadn’t been so individualistic. But then, once my inner critic is done with its spiel, I try to take a deep breath and remind myself that the cost of doing it the other way would have been my soul.

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