I don’t know about you, but Glory Days doesn’t really apply to my experience of high school. I spent much of high school wanting to die or run away. I didn’t like myself at all. Most days, I despised myself. I cared so much about what other people thought about me. I had multiple unrequited crushes, which were, in a word, crushing. I felt different, and different felt awful.

At the same time, there were people and moments throughout high school that made me who I am today. Some of those people are still in my life. Some of them were there for exactly the right moment, and now we have moved on.

I’m still connected to so many high school classmates and friends on Facebook. Facebook can be a double-edged sword too; spending too much time there can feel like a 24-7 high school reunion. Sometimes, I get caught up in the past. I ruminate. Despite my best efforts, I find myself comparing my life to the lives of others. I feel distance between people, rather than connection. Other times, I appreciate the chance to flip back through the meaningful moments and people. I enjoy celebrating milestones together. I feel happy that most of us survived. I mourn those who did not, and feel lucky that I did.

With my 20th high school reunion right around the corner, I’ve been reflecting on ways to make it a time of renewal, reflection, and connection, rather than a journey back to a dark place. What if we could all feel like we were enough? What if we were all celebrated for the gifts we give the world? What if we could be secure in the fact that people appreciate us for the moment our lives crossed paths? What if we could use our reunion to make the world bigger, not to make it feel smaller again?

Whether you are MY high school classmate or someone else’s high school classmate, I hope you’ll help me brainstorm ways we can contribute meaning and value to each others lives on Facebook, at reunions, or in other ways we connect with people from our past. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Thank and acknowledge friends for what they brought into our lives. Nothing is too big or too small. Simply sharing a memory, a conversation, a moment that you shared with another human.
  • Be real about whether high school was your best time or your worst time. No worries either way. It’s okay if you aren’t always your best self – then or now.
  • Allow people to grow and change, and meet them as they are today, not who they were 20 years ago.
  • Ask meaningful questions that go beyond achievements and possessions. What’s the thing you are most proud of? How have you changed since high school? What is your biggest regret?
  • Make amends for wrongs you have done to others. Finding closure and completion can help both of you heal and move on. Plus taking responsibility means you are really a grown up!
  • Focus on what you might have in common today, rather than what made you different yesterday. What passions, interests, or geography do we now share?

We are who we are today because of the people who passed through our lives yesterday. While gratitude is certainly something to practice every day, a reunion is a special time to say thank you for the many moments who brought us to this one.

I’ll be putting some of these ideas into practice in the coming months with high school and other friends online and offline!