MPHS Class of 1991: Together Again

I graduated from MPHS in 1991 and have never, ever gone to a class reunion. I always said it was because nobody would remember me, but really it was just me being insecure and shy. I suppose the greater fear was whether or not anyone would remember me at all. After the shooting happened at my former high school, right before Halloween, there was a distinct sense of community that enveloped me and many other alumni. The community came together as a whole to support the current students, but many of us felt the need to touch one another too, a lot like going home for Christmas, I suppose. It felt like the right time to check in with those people I spent 12 years of my life with, my other formative family, so when an invitation came for an impromptu party at a classmate’s house, for the first time ever I answered in the affirmative.

So I went to the party. I asked my best friend, Bethaford, to be my date and on Friday I headed north to authentically revisit my past for the first time ever. I expected to be nervous, but I wasn’t. It suddenly felt like the most normal, appropriate thing to do ever.

{I so rarely go to parties that I need to show you my outfit! LOL!}
And I’m glad I went. I got there and had a temporary moment of panic when I walked in and it was just like high school! There there everyone was- well, not everyone. Maybe a dozen or so classmates were already there when we arrived, but it was a huddle of people I pretty much haven’t seen since I graduated 23 years ago! I was hit with that middle school insecurity thing, knowing that I didn’t really know these people and wondered if I was cool enough fit in, and then I remembered who I am! I’m Tamara Shazam! LJ! Mrs. L! T-Diddy! Tamarella was in the house and I had nothing to be scared of! I walked up to each person and introduced myself. I remembered the faces or names of most everyone except 4-5 people, but the best part was that as I went around I saw sparks of recognition toward me. My fear of not belonging, of being forgotten and being an outsider totally vanished. My reason for not attending previous reunions was totally unfounded: I belonged. I’m part of that community and the only thing that prevented me from feeling that sense of belonging in the past was my inability to act like myself from the fear of being rejected. If I had put myself out there more as a kid I know that life would have been different for me in middle, junior and high school. I held myself back from so many opportunities because I was scared to be my authentic self.
I know this because Friday was easy. People know who I am now through memory of me and the vehicle of this blog. I hold nothing back here so if you read this, you know me better than my siblings! Not just the surface version me, but the gritty, dirty, dark part of me that’s harder to express. When I used to sell soap, I learned that the more people knew about the soap’s ingredients, how I made it and any backstory there was that they were way more likely to purchase it. The same can be said of relationships. As I put more and more of myself out into the world I am getting feedback that I’m normal, I’m ok, I’m even likable and interesting! When I share who I am, people want to spend time with me. Seems obvious… This was true of Friday, too. Some of my classmates are reading my site and talking about the same issues I am. Most a commented as that we were a bunch of insecure little kids back then. We didn’t know life, and today we are all just people. We are people with jobs, kids and lives and we are all equalized. If there are cliques, it’s no longer cliques for a hierarchical caste system, it’s just because those people hung out together and are friends, not because they’re rejecting anyone. The circle is open.

I felt so happy all night at that party. When I look at pictures, I have a huge, ridiculous grin on my face because I had the best time laughing and loving with my peeps from MP. We are still family, stronger, now, than all of those years before. It was a little like coming home and I realized how much I missed all of them and all that we were.
#Effyourbeautystandards struck a chord with a number of people. When I post entries on my site and to Facebook it’s a little like yelling into a storm. I throw some noise out there and then can watch the traffic through my site, but I always wonder what people are really thinking because comments on this site and on Facebook are fairly rare. In person, though, I got more feedback from that post than any other, and what I heard was universal: I felt that way too. I felt unimportant, awkward, plain, unattractive… People who weren’t fat felt like that too! I have heard that everyone goes through it as a clichéd trope, but never really believed it until I had several people confessing hardships to me through teary eyes- ‘truths’ that we felt as tweens and teens that had morphed into guiding principles for the next 25. Feeling beautiful and accepted is a rarity.
The heartfelt response I got from the people who read here has shifted my sense of self and sense of my people. We are generally insecure and really don’t need to be. I was shocked at how much we share the same story but stuff it away and assume the worst. I’m actually pretty. And if I was a little wobbly before in my sense of self/sense of beauty, I’m determined to make that shift… and feel like I’ve already got a good start. Thank you.