It’s been 10 years since you have seen your high school classmates. It seems like another lifetime ago. You may find yourself curious every now and again about ex-boyfriends and the “popular” crowd, but is that enough to motivate you to revisit the high school days? Plus, the five social networks you actively use have made it impossible to lose touch with anyone since 2004. I admit, I am a bit torn about attending my own high school reunion. So I did what any other 28-year-old professional woman would do and made a list:
One of the main arguments I’ve heard for not attending these reunions is that you can already catch up with those you care about (and some you don’t) via Facebook. The pictures, status updates and timelines already clue us in as to whether or not our ex is fat and lonely and if the “it” couple ever got married. And when you are looking on Facebook, it saves you the awkwardness of those face to face encounters (you know you don’t remember the names of half your graduating class).
While social media does allow us to connect and share, the experiences we have connecting in the real world far outweigh that virtual high. While most of the people I do want to be reunited with are my Facebook friends, I still would like to see them in person, give them a hug and meet their spouses. I would like to hear about their travels firsthand rather than just browse a photo album. Plus, Facebook is a great tool for warming up for a reunion. If you are looking to make business connections or are struggling to remember a face, use “the book” to look it up pre-event and save yourself time and potential embarrassment.
We all think of Romy and Michelle pretending to invent Post-Its and we laugh, but the truth is, we can relate. The thing about these reunions is that they can drive us to examine ourselves under a harsh microscope. We can begin to compare ourselves to other people who we feel have accomplished more. It also forces us to be harder on ourselves in terms of getting our butts into gear for starting that business, leaving that job, or writing that book. Not being where you thought you’d be professionally is a lot more depressing when you find out that the guy voted least likely to succeed is making $100k a year.
While it is always tempting to compare ourselves to others, we should definitely refrain. Use this gathering as an opportunity to be proud of what you have done in the 10 years since you donned that cap and gown. I guarantee that when you compare yourself to how you were at 18 you will definitely feel like you have come a long way. This can also be an excellent eye-opening experience. Maybe a conversation will inspire you to move forward. This reunion might be the extra motivation you need, and you may find that your high school buddies are still some of your biggest cheerleaders. Remember, success is defined differently by everyone. You may have all been competing for the same guy, top spot in the class or prom queen, but you all know now that life is about so much more than all that.
You don’t want to drudge up past drama. Let’s admit it: high school is full of as many feuds, fails and awkward moments as it is fun times. There will always be those people you just don’t want to see and those things you just don’t want to remember... like your sophomore yearbook picture.
True, there will always be that time you fell and ate it bad outside of French class (true story) or the girl who made fun of you for what you wore, but are these things worth missing one of life’s milestones? No matter how hard it is to be the bigger person or come back from an absolute embarrassment, it is always worse to not show up at all. Besides, everyone probably forgot about your fall (here’s hoping), and that girl who made your life miserable may want to apologize. Let’s all remember, there have been way more trying times since high school (college, anyone?), and those are great equalizers.
Reunions can be costly. I’ve heard of some that seem like prom (formal dress, exotic venue) 10 years later.
If money is a factor for you, and you truly can’t justify a steep cost (especially if you have to travel to get back to your hometown) then don’t go. However, if you have advance notice and can find some other classmates who are willing to go with you and maybe carpool (think those who rode in and helped pay for the prom limo) then try and make it work. A great way to find out how much this will cost you and offer suggestions for savings would be to track down members of the organizing committee on Facebook and inquire. Ask them if they’ve planned yet and what they are thinking about doing so you can get an idea.
OK, I’m just gonna say it. A really great reason to go to your reunion is to flaunt what you’ve got. I was never the valedictorian or the homecoming queen or a star athlete, but at least I have some great clothes, a great job and a wonderful man to take as my date. I am really looking forward to showing all that off at the reunion. I don’t mean that to be snobby, I really want my high school mates to meet my guy and for everyone to know that if you work your ass off, you can have everything you want. That’s a message I love sharing with everyone. If you have three kids, go to your reunion with their pictures to show off proudly. If you have a blog, go with business cards ready to show off your space. Brag about those things that make you, you. And of course, network galore.
The last reason I have for going back to school is one of pure hope. There is always that one person who has gotten away. They don’t seem to be on Facebook and no one has heard from them. Sure, there is always a chance they won’t show, but if they were truly your friend years ago, you go in hopes that they do.
You don’t have to take my advice on all this. I am considering this as someone who has never been to a reunion before and still keeps in touch with a lot of the people I was friends with back then (case in point, Made Woman Editor-in-Chief, Serena Watson). Do I need a reunion with everyone? No, not necessarily. I could just as easily set up coffee dates and lunches via Facebook or send emails. But if my school is going to go through the trouble, I figure, why not? While we can’t go back and change the past, we can stare it in the face with new found confidence and relive those moments that made us the person we are today. The decision is yours, but whatever it is, make sure you are making it based on who you are today and not who you think you were then. Bring someone you know you will have a good time with and devote your evening to speaking with those who you truly miss or would like to reconnect with.
In today’s world, the speed of connection has never been faster.
Our desires for human attention and self-expression have limitless opportunities with the Internet. From hobbies to dating to personal and professional networking, we have the bases covered.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Pinterest, Myspace (yes, it still exists), FourSquare, Yelp, Couchsurf, Bing, Google+, Instagram, Google Hangouts, BranchOut and Meet-Up are just a small sampling of what’s out there allowing us to over share and connect to our hearts' content.
Besides finding a new place to post a profile pic, the internet has so much to offer. There are thousands of sites all just a Google search away, including ones that could help us get to the next level in our careers.
So, What Do You Do?
Taking it a step past LinkedIn, many industry-specific social media sites exist to help people in various professions. Are you in Human Resources? Well then there’s a site for you! Check out www.hr.com. Are you in Business and Finance? Check out www.meettheboss.tv. Are you in Academia or Research? You’re good as well! Visit www.academia.edu. It’s like made to order career advice.
There are countless sites out there, but here are a few, listed by industry, which may be useful to you. And while this sampling by no means represents all that’s available, it should get you thinking about researching others like it and pondering the increased benefits it could bring:
A Few Other Helpful Sites for Business Purposes
The list goes on and on.
These social media sites provide an opportunity to reach niche communities you might want to be more involved with for your job. It’s a way for you to connect with like-minded people, share thoughts and trends in your industry, and view content targeted directly to you and your interests.
It’s easy to see how a person can further develop personal passions just by going online and joining some virtual communities. More than ever before, people are coming together to build spaces for collaboration, and it is in our best interest to take advantage of these opportunities and join the party.
What are your favorite career sites? Share your favorites in the comments below!