If you are wondering why I was so stressed out about this reunion weekend, let me explain: I am crazy. I have problems. And have I mentioned that I'm crazy?
In general, I just hate these sorts of forced functions. I got one email (among dozens regarding this reunion because I made the mistake of accepting the invitation to join Reunion Facebook group) last week about a networking event on Friday and the phrase "break out your business cards" was actually used. I almost threw up reading that - do I need to explain, or have I sufficiently covered my hatred of networking in over the past two years of blogging?
Because I still live in the same city as my alma mater, I've gone to Homecoming events every year. It was never great, but never that bad. The Young Alumni tent is an overpriced frat party, but it can be entertaining if you're drunk enough. The homecoming lacrosse game is still a boring lacrosse game, but it can be entertaining if you're drunk enough.
I've never panicked the way I did this year because there was always the possibility of just ignoring homecoming altogether. If there were people I cared about coming back, I'd show up at a few events, pay my $20, collect my commemorative beer mug, and catch up with people. But this year was The! Big! 5! Year! Reunion! It was going to be So! Much! Fun!
For most people in our class, this was the first reunion they'd attended. And I can see the excitement in that. But this is my FIFTH. And quite honestly, I'm over these reunions. I feel like I need a disclaimer here, because I didn't hate college. I LOVED college. I had a minor life crisis when college came to and end and my life as I knew it ended with it. Twenty-two was a not a good year for me. I spent the majority of it feeling simultaneously lonely and overwhelmed as I struggled to adjust to working full time, cohabitating with Joel, and just becoming an adult. I wished a million times that I could turn back the clock and just go back to school, where everything had a purpose and I knew what my role in the world was.... even though I spent quite a lot of time senior year stressing out about tests and papers and thinking about how easy everything would be once I just graduated and started working, because then I'd have money and my weekends would be free from endless studying and staying up all night bullshitting papers. Grass: greener, etc.
But then Joel and I bought a house, moved out of our craptastic apartment, got some cats. I got a new job that sucked significantly less than my old one and paid significantly more. At some point, I stopped feeling like a college student masquerading as an adult. I moved on, for lack of a better phrase. And I'm happy. Though I may complain about trivial (and at times, not-so-trivial) things here, I am so content with my life it's ridiculous. I love where we live, I love my friends, I love my family, I love my fiance. I love my three adorable cats. This is the life I want.
And yet, when I find myself forced to make small talk with people I don't know well, I inevitably feel a crushing sense of inadequacy. I feel like a loser because discussing careers and networking opportunities makes me want to throw up. I feel like I suck because I don't have a fancy job title or a posh city loft or crazy stories about my wild nightlife. I feel kind of boring. I don't WANT one of those fancy jobs, I don't want to be a single girl partying hard in NYC, I don't want to be in law/med/business school. But I do feel bad for NOT wanting those things. Sometimes I feel like I used my reserve of overachiever, reach-for-the-stars gasoline during high school and college, and now I'm just a slacker. Honestly, that is probably a good thing. The level of perfection that I used to demand from myself in every area of my life was unsustainable and I am so much happier and healthier now that I have let all (most) of that go. But I still feel guilty about it. If that makes no sense at all to you, that's because you're sane.
In a nutshell, that's why I was dreading this reunion. I felt like I was supposed to be SO! EXCITED!, when I really just wished I could hole up in my house and ignore the whole thing. But I couldn't do that, because that would be antisocial. And so my friends and I decided that we had an obligation to attend at least one official reunion event. We decided on the lacrosse tailgate because 1. It was cheap, and 2. It was not the
frat party Young Alumni Tent. I was OK with this decision until we were sitting in a coffee shop across from the lacrosse field half an hour before the tailgate was scheduled to begin, and all of a sudden I started having a panic attack. Why are we going to this?, I asked my friend Sarah. What the hell were we thinking? Do you want to just cut our losses and run? I seriously would have PAID the $15 ticket price just to not have to go to that event.
What is my problem? Well, let me try to explain the totally irrational roots of my social anxiety reunion disorder:
1. I have totally sucked at keeping in touch with people from college who aren't either A) Joel B) My friend Liz , who doesn't really count as a "college" friend because before we were college friends, we were high school friends, C) From my track/XC team. Over the past few weeks, I've spent a lot of time thinking about why and how this managed to happen, and I think it's partly because I overscheduled myself SO much during college that I missed out on a lot of just hanging out time, and partly because I hate talking on the phone so much, and partly because I just suck. Remember my New Year's Resolution to keep in better touch with my friends? I made that resolution because I KNOW I suck at this and I want to get better.
I was afraid I'd come back and see how everyone is still BFF with all their college friends except for me, and then I'd feel like a giant loser.
2. I really hate making small talk/bullshitting about "what I'm doing now". I feel like I have nothing to report on my life. Still living in Baltimore, still working at a job, same old same old same old.
3. Sure, I have the big engagement news, but the next logical question is "so, when's the wedding?" and I'm not positive on this one, but I don't think that durrrrrr? is a socially appropriate response.
4. Did I mention that Joel was out of town all weekend? I usually have no problem being on my own while he's coaching or traveling for work, but at these kind of extremely stressful social events it would be really, really nice to have him to lean on, instead of calling him from a bathroom stall and begging him to come home right now PLLLLEEEASE.
5. We found out last week that Max has cancer, and that is not related to any of this at all except for that it isn't exactly making my mood any better, you know?
So those are all the reasons that I am crazy. Now for the good news: this weekend was not nearly as bad as I was expecting it to be. Actually, it was kind of awesome. After having a joint anxiety attack, Sarah and I agreed that we would go to the tailgate for
half an hour fifteen minutes seven minutes. We'd grab some snacks to get our $15 worth, and then we would book out of there and we would be able to say that we went to the stupid reunion. Our two friends who abandoned us "forgot to register" agreed that they'd go for a walk around campus and that if we hadn't re-emerged within fifteen minutes, they'd call us so that we could pretend there was some emergency and extricate ourselves. And just as we were about to get up and go in, I spilled coffee all over myself. Oh, yes. I did. I am THAT awesome.
We purposely went at the very beginning of the tailgate to avoid the crowd, and it was beyond awkward. There was ONE other person there, and she was weird. She chatted us up. It was bad. And we still had five of our seven minutes to go.
And then something amazing happened. Other people showed up. People that I love and haven't talked to in years. People who are now married to other awesome people, people that I actually wanted to talk to. People whose numbers I obtained so that we could meet up later and hang out. People who just laughed and helped me and Sarah exit gracefully when the tent actually started to fill up with ex-sorority sisters and a dude who actually refers to himself as HK03 (Homecoming King) (I'm not joking) and the whole thing started to go downhill very, very quickly. We lasted thirty-three minutes in an Official Reunion Event, and it was actually sort of fun!
And then we went to Holy Frijoles, which now has a liquor license. I pounded a pomegranate margarita and ate every bite of my burrito and everything was alright. Because sometimes alcohol really DOES make things better.
The rest of the weekend was actually wonderful - I got to see my friends, my cats didn't cause anyone to go into an allergic fit (although they came close), people actually called me and came over to my house and we all hung out and it was so lovely. Best of all, since I didn't know that that People I Haven't Seen in Five Years would be coming to my house, I didn't even have time to freak out and obsessively clean beforehand. (But things were still generally in a VERY clean state, thanks to my mom's visit a few weeks ago, don't worry). We spent time watching TV in our pajamas, I stayed up until 2am catching up with people I truly love, laughing so hard that my abs hurt on Sunday.
Sunday was a laid back day, filled with a long lunch, and a lot of chilling out. I didn't even have to call Joel once to beg him to come home early from his race.
Even though the weekend as a whole turned out extremely well, I've never been so happy to return to normalcy. Joel came home soon after my last friend departed, and we quickly settled into our normal Sunday night routine of making dinner, watching TV and getting ready for the week ahead. God, I never knew normal could feel so good.