I’m sitting here in the computer lab, thinking about the school reunion slated this Sunday. The distraction is real – I have actually minimized the dull terminal box with various scripts running on it. Fortunately, I am seated away from my colleagues and I’m quite thankful that they won’t be able to steal surreptitious glances at my monitor. Whew!
I feel guilty about wasting work hours over my blog that has been neglected for quite sometime now – possibly more than a year. But, the only solution for my mind-diarrhea is to excrete it here on this white space. Apologies for my graphic choice of words!
I don’t know what made me RSVP to the event. When I first saw the page on Facebook, I promptly scrolled past it, not bothering to read details. When it popped up again on my feed a few days later, I went ahead and clicked on it. A bunch of batch-mates I barely know had liked the only post displayed on the page. I contemplated on ticking the box titled “Interested” on an event poll located below the post but then decided against it. It would make sense to first check with three of my friends who have stuck with me since school-days.
Pat came the reply on the WhatsApp group that we are a part of .
“Nope. I’d give this a miss,” said S.
I get her discomfort on attending social gatherings full of several unknown or barely-known faces. That I wanted to attend this reunion in spite of having been a nobody in school did seem unusual. When A declined my offer, I re-considered my decision. In fact, talks about the reunion triggered some unpleasant school memories. Clearly, this was a bad idea.
I had almost forgotten about it until I casually let the question slide into a conversation with another friend who happens to be my schoolmate. Her reaction was equally predictable, considering the uncanny similarities in our school experiences. Being awkward background characters, we had watched the popular kids bask in the glory of the limelight. Jeez, I sound bitter. I guess the onus had equally been on us to take charge of ourselves and participate in school events. A part of me would have definitely enjoyed the adulation of teachers and friends, had I not been crippled by self-doubt for the most part of my teenage. Our school did propagate a toxic competitive culture amongst us girls. All in all, our discussion had me convinced that the reunion would unnecessarily engender distressing thoughts about the past.
Fast forward to last night, I stumbled upon that intrusive page on my feed again. This time I lingered. The list of attendees had markedly increased and it mainly comprised acquaintances and some unfamiliar names – those from the Boys’ Section, the ones I have no idea about to this date. The Boys’ Section has always been the Forbidden Forest of our school. There were strict rules to be followed and consequences that rule-breakers had to face. From what I recollect, a bunch of girls would stealthily hang out with members of this region in undisclosed locations. Back then, Facebook was the only portal into such meetings and parties which were rather fancy affairs. These were the ways of the elite I suppose, as most of the partakers weren’t financially inconvenienced. Those were my days of being a novice at social media stalking or researching as I termed it. I would scroll through scores of pictures of my posh batch-mates in their cutesy dresses, tank tops and slim fit jeans, sipping
juice, hand in hand with pubescent boys. A part of me desperately craved to suspend my middle-class values, orthodontic braces and bell-bottom jeans and embrace this hip lifestyle with cute boys, indulgent parents and copious monthly allowance. My life seemed to follow the trajectory of a typical American teenage drama that would ultimately culminate in a big prom. No guesses for what would have happen there – I would meet the love of my life! Little did I know that I would voluntarily skip the prom aka my tenth grade after-party, only to meet my love (an alumnus of the Boys’ Section) six years later at a party, albeit one that was low-key.
Naturally, given my expertise in social media groundwork, I sneaked up on some profiles to familiarize myself with new faces. My boyfriend was quite unhelpful with divulging information about his school days because to him those held no significance whatsoever. My handsome K is very much like me in this aspect – he was a reticent kid. In a way, this whole exercise did seem absurd and unfruitful. I don’t comprehend my ferreting tendencies and curiosity about individuals who were (and probably are) unaware of my existence. Anyway, after a quick mental debate I messaged Sa asking her to accompany me to the venue Sunday. She miraculously agreed and I finally had my way. For all my unsavory opinions on school, the hypocrite in me does want to be there to gauge how everyone has turned out to be. To see whether the bully is still a bully, whether the all-rounder is still ruling the roost.
Ever since I’ve impulsively RSVP’ed, my mind has been fraught with a flurry of anxious thoughts and questions, the first one being, why in the world am I so compelled to attend this reunion? K being a man of few words, puts it succinctly – it’s just a matter of one night that will be forgotten within a week. He is absolutely correct, but I’m never going to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he is right.
I have already begun to rummage through my cupboard to assemble an outfit that will suit the occasion which quite obviously reeks of sophistication. Maybe I’ll go with soft smoky eyes to complement my look. Heck, my make-up skills are quite good. This anxiety associated with choosing a chic attire is way too familiar. How many times had I questioned my sartorial choices during them school days?
Blast from the past : This was snapped right before my school farewell party
So why am I attending this reunion?
Sa echoes my sentiments – “Hahaha, curiosity and to rub our happiness in people’s faces.”
Do I really want to rub my happiness in people’s faces and be vindicated? There’s no discrete answer to this. My mother is of the opinion that my confidence waned after having joined this school. Back in Bombay, I was a carefree kid who studied in a simple co-educational environment. There had been no pressure to perfect my English speaking skills or to ogle at boys through rose-tinted glasses. I was good at art and music. I could wear anything and not feel shy about my lanky body. However, everything changed after we moved to Pune.
To make up for my lack of participation in cultural programs and debates, I would cook-up scenarios in my head. Usually, I would visualize myself to be quite popular, extremely smart, displaying my talent in music, dance, debate, you name it, before a huge audience. I imagined myself to be an ace guitarist. Teachers liked me and spoke highly of me to my parents. In this parallel world, I was a part of the elite group with friends from the forbidden part of the school.
Of course, the reality was anything but pleasant. I suffer from mild social anxiety, the roots of which trace back to high school. I was used to being overlooked by my own classmates, to being one of the last ones to be picked in the basketball team. My seniors in the school bus were bullies and had no shame in “taking my case”. My grades dropped when I was in the tenth grade. I could have never imagined that I would start my own blog because I sucked at writing essays. Heck, I doubt if my teachers remember me. Aye, I have gone ahead and thrown myself a pity party here. But some background is necessary to show you the absurdity of my decision to attend this party on Sunday.
The answer to my question is glaringly obvious. I’m dying to see where I stand amongst these girls and boys – now women and men. To prove to myself that I’m somebody and that I will be no longer intimidated by them.
It’s strange. I am, of course, in a much better place now as compared to where I was aged fifteen. I am grateful for the people in my life, the ones who know me in and out and take me the way I am. I know that I don’t need to prove a point to anybody.
You may think I’m being petty and counter-productive, as this may only fuel my insecurities further. There are bound to be people who are doing better than me. And not all my school-mates were terrible. I can still change my mind and cancel plans. Why go out of my way to prove a point to those who have no inkling whatsoever about my intentions?
Figuring myself out is so hard sometimes. But it’s okay, I’ll go with my impulses for once.
Curiosity may have killed the cat but I’m willing to risk it this time.
Circa 2016 : The lasting effects of puberty. It did me a good turn.