My First High School Reunion Experience
This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to my grandfather’s high school reunion: the West Mecklenburg High School/Harding High School Decade of the 60’s Reunion. I’m sure one might think “why would someone in their 20s want to go to an event where the next youngest person is probably 60 years old?” Well, for starters I wanted to spend time with my grandfather/Pawpaw. Second, this is the first reunion since my grandmother passed away, and I knew her friends would be there. I felt like I needed to be around other people who knew and loved her. Third, it was at the beach; something about the beach is so relaxing to me and after this semester, I needed a break.
So, you might be asking, was the trip worth it? Yes. I was reminded of what I call my life essentials.
1. Time is the most valuable resource every person has. It is one of the only, if not the only, thing we can never get back once it’s gone. I was reminded to spend my time doing what makes me happy, and what matters. Sometimes studying doesn’t make me happy but being able to help others with their health does, and sometimes you have to embrace the crappy parts to reap happiness later. After talking with people who graduated high school during the 60s, the one thing they all seemed to mention was time- whether it was how much time I have left in my life, how little time they feel they have left, or how important it is to analyze how you spend your time. Your time matters; try not to waste it.
2. People may not remember what you say or what you wore, but they will remember how you made them feel. Person after person came up to me to tell me that they loved my grandmother so much, because she made them feel valued and important, and she made them laugh. None told me a specific story or joke, but they all were adamant that she was an amazing woman who left an impact on their lives because of how she made them feel. Furthermore, when you leave that kind of impact on others it benefits those who you leave behind. I had never met some of Mawmaw’s friends before this weekend but they all wanted to meet me, talk with me and show their support of my studies, because Mawmaw had made such an impact on their lives.
3. Community is important; build your support system. All of these people went to either West Mecklenburg High School or Harding High School, meaning they’re all from the west side of Charlotte. I grew up on the west side of Charlotte and Pawpaw, his wife Kim, my brother and some other family members still live on the west side. I not only saw my grandparents’ best friends, but I met people I had gotten candy from on Halloween nights, saw in the Food Lion down the street, or saw on Thursday nights at Lynn’s while shag dancing with Pawpaw. Unbeknownst to me, Pawpaw had been updating all these people on my pharmacy journey, which allowed me to gain this huge support system I never knew existed and of people rooting for me to do well. That matters! I left the event with a renewed sense of confidence, thanks in part to the support of people who may have never met me, but because they love Pawpaw. Wise is the one who never underestimates the power of human connection and makes time to connect with others (even if that means studying together with a friend, having a quick five-minute phone call or Facetiming a friend who lives in a different city).
4. Family. Anyone who knows me very well knows I talk about my family a lot. They probably think, “man this girl has a family member in every single city”. Divorce and remarriage has increased the number of my family members causing my family to grow tremendously during my lifetime (which is great, because now I do have a lot of family all over the country). I knew that some of my family would be at the reunion. However, I was not expecting to receive such a warm welcome from my grandfather’s peers who included me as if I were already a part of the “Westside Family” and their family reunion. While I did meet five new family members (all cousins of Pawpaw and Mawmaw), I was surrounded by their best friends who watched me grow up, follow me on Facebook and have always supported me. Family are people you’re related to AND people who continuously show up, support you, and love you whether they share your blood or not; just because Mawmaw is gone doesn’t mean my whole family is. I am blessed beyond measure to have all of my remaining family members, and I am even more blessed to be surrounded by friends who became family over the years.
5. Reward yourself when you’ve been working hard… treat yo-self when you deserve it. In pharmacy school it seems my to do list is never ending, and it’s easy for me to fall into a pattern of thinking and feeling like I’m always behind on something, I’m not doing enough, or I’m failing in some capacity. The truth is I will always have tasks on my “to do” list, because I enjoy being a productive person and need the pressure of time restraints to feel motivated to complete tasks. However, sometimes I do need to take a step back and reflect on how much I’ve accomplished and how much I have grown in this journey I am blessed to travel. And what better reward is there than buying yourself something you’ve really, really wanted for a long time? After three years of searching, I finally found the perfect pair of penny-loafers while at the Reunion, and I bought them. Not only do they represent what I’ve accomplished, but they also serve as a reminder to continue working hard to accomplish my goals.
In summary, taking time to relax is important. Rewarding yourself for your hard work and determination is not only unselfish, rather it is almost necessary to avoid feelings of burnout. Reflecting on experiences and goals is crucial to continue moving forward, just as connecting emotionally with others is essential to live a happy life. TIME IS PRECIOUS! Attending the West Mecklenburg High School/Harding High School Reunion surpassed my expectations tremendously. It is my hope to attend the reunion again next year not only to reconnect with my newly made friends, but also sustain my presence as the youngest attendee of this grand high school reunion.