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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Guest Laurie Schnebly Campbell: Outgrowing High School

Next weekend I'm off to my high school reunion, and wondering why -- after all these years -- I still care so much about what my classmates think of me.

Sure, you expect teenagers to be consumed with the desire for popularity. But shouldn't we outgrow it eventually? Or does that shrinking feeling of "I'll never be cool" come back with the same intensity as during high school whenever those same people get together?

In theory, this should be a pure delight. And I suspect if I weren't spending so much energy worrying about whether I'll be accepted -- or, more to the point, admired -- it WOULD be a pure delight.

Yet I've spent the past four months dithering over what to wear, planning the best day for a haircut, imagining ways to work my book titles into the conversation while sounding ever so casual...which, good heavens, just made me realize this is all about Me-Me-Me!


Years ago my dad said his method for enjoying any social event was to walk into the room saying "THERE you are" instead of "HERE I am." And it's a safe bet there'll be a whole lot of fascinating people at this event -- in fact, it'll be the anniversary of when my best friend from high school met her soon-to-be husband (another classmate) at our ten-year reunion. They happened to sit near each other at dinner, and...whoosh.

But they won't be there since their daughter's school is still in session. And a few other friends I've stayed in touch with can't make it either. And I didn't invite my husband because it would've been ludicrously expensive to bring a date.

So there won't be any Guaranteed Friendly People to chat with. Surely there'll be other people arriving without a date, though, right?

Surely there'll be something to do besides hide out in the bathroom, right?

Surely this'll all be a pleasant memory by the time our NEXT reunion comes around...won't it?

But if you have any tips for making a reunion more fun and less scary, I'd really love to hear 'em!

 Laurie, who can't wait to check back

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After publishing half a dozen romances, including a Special Edition that beat out Nora Roberts for "Best of the Year," Laurie Schnebly Campbell saw a bumper sticker that changed her life: "Those who can, do. Those who believe others can ALSO do, teach." Now she teaches other writers about query letters, fatal flaws, plotting via motivation and more -- see her picks at .


  1. Hi Laurie, I went to my first reunion five years ago and was pleasantly surprised. EVERYONE was so friendly and we had so much fun. It was like going to an RWA meeting and meeting new friends. Because after all who remembers that far back? LOL What was fun was the fact we had all outgrown the cliques and groups and were just happy to be together and talk about our lives.

    I'm heading for our 50th in October. Just booked my flight in fact and am really looking forward to it.

    BTW great decision to not take hubby. Then you can visit and not have to worry if he is having a good time or not.

    Do you have a girlfriend you stay in touch with? I went with a girlfriend. We get together twice a year so it was really fun to see her again.

    Have fun Laurie. You are so much fun yourself that your high school friends will be tickled to get to know you again.

    1. Aw, Sandra, thanks for the confirmation that it's fun without hubby!

      And a girlfriend who moved during senior year (and this isn't an eligible graduate) might come with me; we caught up last weekend when I was in Tucson so that could be all kinds of fun. :)

  2. Laurie, the good thing about attending a reunion as everyone in the old group ages, is that people are darned glad to see you and catch up. They aren't like 5 year reunions when everyone is trying to impress. But I can't imagine you look a whole lot different than you did when you graduated. Everyone is going to envy you your glamorous life...

    1. Roz, bless your heart, I suspect we'll all look just a BIT different! But it's sure fun seeing the photo from our last reunion and seeing how easy it is to pair faces from 10 years ago with faces on Graduation Day.

      So, heck, maybe it'll be just as easy this time around...

  3. Laurie,
    I remember my own high school reunion...the jitters, the insecurity, the Oh My Gosh, look what she/he has accomplished, but you know what? I worried for nothing. They were the same great people I had gone to school with and I had a wonderful time reconnecting with them!

    1. Marie, that's tremendously reassuring -- thank you!

      I like the idea of reconnecting; seems like that's what makes Facebook such fun so it makes sense that doing it in person will be every bit as much fun...if not more. :)

  4. Hi Laurie,
    This is my reunion year, too, and the difference between this one and the last one five years ago is Facebook! At the last reunion, aging had caught up to a bunch of my classmates and I was horrified and embarrassed that I didn't recognize them. Now I can cheat and find them on facebook so I have a chance of remembering them in person! I love your dad's view of walking into a room. Great advice.

    1. Lyndee, how cool that Facebook has made such a difference!

      I'm amazed that it wasn't around ten years ago, because by now it seems like such a normal part of life, but you're right that we had no clue back in 2003 what a huge deal it would become. Go figure...

  5. Laurie!!

    Don't worry at all!! Of course you'll be admired, and of course people will be there without a date and you will be interesting to talk to and you will be interested in talking to others! You have always been such an interesting person, but you also have always been able to strike up converstaions with anyone and relate to everyone. Think of all the interesting things you've done in your life since high school, and then doesn't that make you wonder what interesting things all those other "kids" have been up to since then?! That is sort of a mental way your Dad's suggestion! There's so much to discover at your reuinion! Stories..........

    Of course, if it's a dud, go get an ice cream sundae, take it to you room, and watch a movie! LOL!

    Have a great time! :)

    1. Charlotte, I love your advice about getting an ice cream sundae -- heck, that sounds like fun even after a fabulous evening!

      And as for the room, I'll be staying with my parents (not to mention Pete, who's going to the ballgame with my dad that night) so I might just need to share the ice cream. :)

  6. Laurie,

    I know what you mean about high school reunions. I have always dreaded them. Most of the time I've lived so far away I haven't been able to make it home. The last one was my 25th back in 2000. Boy, does that make me feel old. ;) What I learned at that reunion was that what others thought of me didn't matter. For whatever reasons, they didn't use nametags. I didn't recognize half the people. But what I found to be the most amusing is how a couple of guys who'd been popular in high school were still holding court. One was a judge and one an attorney. Big fish, but the pond was really small. I'd lived in Texas, Georgia, and NM by that time and they'd never left our little town--population 3000. I thought it was really interesting that most of the most popular kids in my high school class never left our hometown. I've seen and experienced so much more than any of them have. Once I realized that, I was no longer intimidated. And the same will be true for you. How many more places have you seen and experienced? Hold your head high, because you've done a lot to be proud of. You'll be amazed at the people who will be jealous of you. I know I was.

    You can never go wrong with ice cream. Great comfort food, great celebratory food.

  7. Vicki, ice cream is sounding better and better! And, boy, I sure hope there are nametags -- even with Facebook photos, I suspect I'd have a hard time remembering who's who. (It's always like that at conferences, too, and I greatly envy people who are good at recognizing faces.)

    I suspect Arizonans are more transient than average, because there'll be a lot of places represented...although I actually kind of envy those who've made a home in Tucson, because it's still SUCH a cool place. Although, ahem, not literally in the summer. :)

  8. I attended the five-year reunion because a few of my friends were attending. We went together. I hated it. I promised to not do that to myself again, ever. I didn't fit in in high school, and I still don't fit in. There was another big reunion a few years ago. I didn't go to it either. The first question everyone asked me in reference to it was "What about you and what's his name?" I haven't seen what's his name in decades and have no desire to see him ever again. I knew he would be there. The biggest problem is that I have practically no memories before my early twenties. It makes talking with people who recognize me incredibly awkward when their names escapes me and even when they tell me what it is I have no idea why they know me. This is not to be a downer. Having said all that, a few years ago, a FB group was started and I was added. I don't interact on the page because I don't remember most of the people. However, a few I vaguely remember friended me. I still cannot recall anything regarding high school with them, but I've thoroughly enjoyed becoming acquainted with the people they are now. I may even attend one of the upcoming events to see them. Great thing I learned: If you are feeling uncomfortable, you aren't the only one so work on making others feel comfortable and you'll forget about your own discomfort.

    1. Judy, it's good hearing the down-side as well as the up-side of attending a reunion -- sounds like Facebook is a much more comfortable group than meeting in person.

      And for that matter, it comes with the added bonus of NOT needing to worry about what you wear!

  9. Hm, can I admit I've never been to a reunion? I was not one of the popular kids in high school, and grew up in an neighborhood outside Washington, D.C., best known for its transience...military, State Department, and contractor folks flow through the area. It was RARE when kids completed all 12 years in the same wasn't unusual for a classmate to be there for K, 1, and 2nd grades, then reappear in middle school for 7th, 8th, and then turn up in the graduating class as a Senior. And this was all well before the days of social media, kids with cell phones, email, etc. I never felt all that connected to the kids by High School.

    I thought about going one year, but that year there were layoffs/finance issues, so couldn't really justify it. Every "anniversary" year (15, 20...) I say "Maybe this year it'd be interesting to see..." but never actually do it. Sorry I can't help much beyond saying--HAVE FUN, and take notes for the next book. ;)

  10. Rowan, taking notes for the next book is a cool idea! I remember doing that (at least mentally, although not on paper) at a baby shower one time, back when baby showers seemed like the dullest event imaginable, and it actually DID wind up in a book.

    I wonder if kids who grew up moving around a lot tend to settle in one place as adults? If you ever DO go to a reunion, it'll be interesting to see how many people are movers and how many are stay-ers.