Monday, July 14, 2008

On the Fringe... 20 Years Later

When I was in high school, I wasn't part of the "IN" crowd. Actually, I was one of those kids who worked very diligently to screw up the bell curve in any class that I possibly could. Honest, it wasn't out of spite - it was because I wanted to be at the top of the class.

Socially, I was raised to get along with everyone. That's just how it was. Although I didn't hang with other crowds, it didn't prevent me from mingling with them, talking to them or going places with them. I often crossed into different cliques so long as it didn't mean trashing my true friends.

One day in high school, a classmate told me how phony I am. She said "It's impossible to be friends with everyone, so since you're friends with everyone, you must be fake." Nice. Truly the words of a snobbish, clueless high school (ummm) young lady. But I was genuine and really just wanted to be able to talk to anyone. I'm still that way today and people that know me as an adult really get it. People at the gym refer to me as the welcoming committee because I'm the first person to greet a new person to class. Why? Because being new somewhere is uncomfortable and I like making people feel like their presence makes a positive difference.

When I graduated, I didn't look back. I maintained a few high school friendships in college then kept in touch with nobody. Zilch. Moving to California gave me the perfect excuse for not having a clue as to any of the gossip surrounding my classmates. When I received an invitation to my 10-year reunion, I had absolutely no intention of spending money for a trip back to Iowa for it.

A few months back when I received an invitation to my 20-year reunion, I felt like tossing it into the trash. The difference, however, is that I'm now back in Iowa and have run into a few of my classmates. You know what? They grew up. They matured. We all did (for the most part). I've been in contact with some of them either through preschool or the gym and I've enjoyed talking to them. They convinced me that going to the reunion wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Well, this past weekend was the reunion. Yes, I went. No, it wasn't horrible. Yes, I loved seeing some of my old friends. Particularly Meg, someone I called one of my closest friends in high school. Who, by the way, aged beautifully - as you can tell by the photo. You may notice that I blurred out our name tags. My concern was my sanity, not my identity. The name tags displayed our FRESHMAN picture next to our name. Ick.

As Meg and I walked around, we caught a glimpse of a bunch of the "in" crowd gathering for a group picture. Meg elegantly raised her glass to me and said "Here's to being on the fringe."

Yup, Meg. Here's to surviving the fringe. Cheers.


  • Missy

    I think it is great that you decided to go! My 10 year is this weekend and I am traveling back to my home state to attend. I would like to hope that most people have grown up and we can all "get along" now that we are adults - we'll see!

  • Texasholly

    Mine is this fall and I still haven't decided...

  • Unknown

    Good for you that you went!!! I was very into HS at the time and now you couldn't pay me enough money to go back. I skipped my 10 year reunuion -- I still didn't miss anybody :) My 20 year is fast approaching, maybe I will follow your example and GO!!

  • pb&j in a bowl

    My favorite place has always been the fringe. I went to my 10 year reunion and had a decent time. Not so great that I want to see many of them again any time soon, but not so bad that I won't go to my 20th.

  • Flutterby

    I knew one of those snot bucket girls in high school too... she cut me down one day and it took me years to get over it.. sometimes it still kicks up and makes me think twice before I step in to talk to new people. I've tried hard to get over it... and most of the time I am ok but sometimes... grrr...

  • Jenn

    I still talk to the ones I always was close to and as for the others if I haven't talked to them since school . There is no way I would waste the money to go back and see them now, I would rather spend it on something to make me or my family happy! Glad you had fun though!

  • runningwildkids

    I am glad that you decided to go. I did go to my 10 year and things didn't change much. Maybe the 20 will be much better. I do run into those that treated me or other badly and they are still the same. At least some grow up!

    I do still talk to some that I chose to keep in contact with. We all now have kids and are having the kids grow up together.

  • Sabrina

    I think it's great that you went. I see so many people regret it later, it's just something we should try to do as much as we hate to. I'm glad you had a nice time!

  • Miss Lisa

    I was on the fringe too ;)

  • OHmommy

    Great post.

    I too was friends with everyone but never really "in"

    I think people are just jealous of well balanced people like you and I. Right?

  • Suzie

    I am so glad high school is over. Socially it was all so hard Im so so happy it over!

  • Anonymous

    When I was in High School, I was a geeky type and a bit autistic. I am so glad I overcome that little issue about me...

  • The Buntens

    Oh, my 20 year is coming up in 4 weeks and I am traveling back to my home state to go.

    Great post! I am glad you went and you looked awesome!

  • Anonymous

    Hey Nicole,

    Catching up. Would it shock you if I told you I was a weirdo in high school? Not Columbine weird, but Skippy-loves-Mallory weird. I was listening to the Smiths and Big Country in Bon Jovi world.

    Thing is, those popular kids generally peak during the high school years, they spend all their time maintaining an image that ultimately is workable for 2-4 years and is outdated the day you start college. Conversely, those who were in one way or another marginalized are kinda given room to try other things on. And in retro that was good for me, expanded my horizons while also realizing, you know, Wanted Dead or Alive IS a pretty jammin' tune.

    I never ate paste but considered it once in 10th grade,

  • ListPlanIt

    I had a "friend" who nicknamed me Nutrasweet (said I was fake) in high school. I am a firstborn, so naturally I am a people-pleaser. I remember thinking to myself when I was young that I could be whatever anyone wanted me to be - it was THAT important! I have grown up considerably. I no longer crave acceptance. But my friends would probably still say that I bend over backwards to be liked by all. There are worse traits, right?


  • Anonymous

    That is great that you went back and it all went well. My 10 year will be in 2010 and I don't plan on going unless I loose 100lbs and my husband becomes a doctor. I don't want to be the fat kid anymore.

  • Anonymous

    You know, the reunion was GREAT! And it was worth every penny and stressful moment that I spent getting ready to go. And the bonus? Re-connecting with a gal who is one of the most generous people I have ever known.