I was 18 when I had my first reunion. It was with people from highschool, and we had only been away from each other for a couple of months. I and many others had just started university, while others had moved on to do something else.
This reunion made an impact on me because, for the whole evening, I was very aware I didn’t want to be there. Naturally, I am still in touch with a couple of people who also attended, including one of my best friends, and it’s not like everybody else was bad per se either. The realisation was that the vast majority of those people weren’t my people.
The only thing that brought us together was the fact that we had gone to a certain school at a certain time. We had chosen the school as much as we had chosen where we had been born, and that was hardly enough to build true connections on.
Some of us had changed a lot in the couple months since we had finished secondary school. We had grown in different ways, became better versions of ourselves in different ways. Some, instead, had withered considerably, having also taken separate paths that led to the same bottom. And then a minority had somehow worked the dubious miracle of staying the same.
I was so aware of this, and the awareness had come so suddenly, that I could hardly hide it. I couldn’t stop thinking of all the new people I had encountered away from highschool, of all the new ways in which I was thinking, of all that I was learning.
Today, thinking back to that moment, I am grateful to have looked at the positive side of not fitting in, to have ignored the despair and to have focused on the enthusiasm, to have shunned the past and embraced the future. The downward spiral takes many shapes and the flat line of not mattering is a threat to us all.
However, not fitting in is a way of fitting in, and reunions can be a wonderful force that propels those who need propelling on their quest to find their fellow misfits.
With a bit of luck, those misfits will one day have reunions they actually want to be part of.