I’m a reasonably self assured woman. In my 37 years on earth I have gathered a range of credits to my name; including 3 degrees, a successful career as a teacher and an emerging one as a writer. Friends and family speak about me as being a fantastic juggler. Somehow, I manage to do all this and feed and raise 3 young children, keep a reasonably clean and organised home and create the occasional cake.
Don’t be deceived. I am also mistress in the art of illusion. Despite having a good dose of self confidence I have many moments of self doubt.
I had a long time to get used to the fact that my 20 year school reunion was coming up. I’m not sure exactly when, but more than a year ago I received a teeny message in my inbox announcing the good news. “School reunion . . . eek,” a close friend had commented when I told her about it, “I didn’t even go to mine. I try really hard to forget that school ever happened.” I didn’t need to try to forget it. I had. Until I received that message.
For me high school was a disaster. I was socially awkward the moment I walked through the gate. In fact, on the first day, I developed a slight stutter that lasted for most of the first semester. When the stutter disappeared I replaced it with a loud and obnoxious teenager who talked too much. The picture was complicated further by highly developed feelings of inadequacy that found me constantly waging a losing battle to fit in. It didn’t matter what I did, I was always going to be too fat, not rich enough, not having the right connections, never mind the fact that I always seemed to have the wrong hair and clothes. I wanted to be one of the “cool crowd” at my all girls Catholic college, but never seemed able to pull it all together.
Up until a week ago I was undecided about whether or not I would make an appearance at the reunion. Exclusion; the favorite tool of the alpha female, had left its scars on my psyche. Surely going to this event, no matter how well intended, would serve to open up old wounds? In a weak moment, lured by the promise of a reunion with an old buddy not seen in more than 18 years, I paid my cash and made the commitment.
Crap. That really was a weak moment. A moment potentially only alleviated through the consumption of a whole bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon!
To cut a long story short the reunion was not a disaster requiring alcohol consumption of grandiose proportions. It was a revelation of sorts. Sitting in the car with an old friend just prior to entering, I confided my fears. She was back, the stuttering and insecure teenager; although this time she had less pimples, better dress sense and bigger tits.
As it turned out, many of us held insecurities about the reunion. For one woman it was about her unfounded belief that others had perceived her to be “promiscuous”. For another it was related to the fact that she was heading towards 40 and still had not found Mr Right. Yet another woman confided in me that she was tizzed about being in the same room as a frenemie. I’m fairly certain that some others were weighing up their own achievements alongside others and feeling as though somewhere they may have fallen short of the mark.
In all honesty, I don’t think anyone missed the mark. I shared a few drinks with a room of accomplished women each glowing with a beauty that only arrives with the wisdom of age. Some were great mothers, others had captivating careers or interests, yet all were inspirational. In the end I’m glad I went. I’m glad that I had the chance to finally put to rest some of the painful experiences buried deep in my memory. Besides, the chocolate and jelly bean bonboniere was brilliant.
Published by Tanya Welden