Should I Attend My High School Reunion? P.S. I’m a Veterinarian

30 year High school reunion attended veterinarian adviceAdvice from a Veterinarian who bravely attended her High School reunion

I went to my 30-year high school reunion last month. Not without some trepidation. Not because of weight gain, wrinkles, fashion statements or any of the other comfortable metrics for who you are in the world, but because of my job.

I imagine we Vet types all dread being asked about our jobs at these functions. Will it be the sneaky time sucker who wants free sugar glider breeding advice? The kind, but misguided “oh, do you get to work with puppies every day?” Or the respectful, but confused nod and smile that oddly kills a conversation?

How many of us have a fake job title to ward off awkwardness? Mine is either a generic “Scientist” or very provocative “Biology teacher”. One practitioner I know tells people she’s a Mortician. That and “IRS” outta shut the topic down nicely.

No amount of pre-reunion cringing can really prepare you, though. So, I figured I’d face my Vet-itude and do my best to make others comfortable whilst enduring another Bay Area backyard chicken tale. I can neither deny nor confirm the plan for liberal use of gin and tonics during this difficult time.

A dear friend, a Media Scholar and Author, welcomed me into the restaurant with “Dr. Beymer is here!” The Professor said, “you always wanted to become a Vet, I’m so glad you did!” The Physician who blew me off at the 20-year reunion wanted to chat in the ladies’ room. The Lawyer wanted to tell me about a county court case involving potential animal abuse.

I was floored. Mainly because they seemed so engaged in my work, and quick to give it merit and validity. That might be the crux of the matter- the discomfort around feeling meaningful in a room full of high achievers and pre-conceived notions. I guess I forgot that we knew each other through braces, Stridex pads, and that 80’s girl-mullet phenomenon of straight bangs with ultra-permed hair. And it was so lovely to feel the layers of attitude, fear and judgement fall away.

Go to reunions, people. Talk unabashedly to someone you didn’t know. Read faces over name tags. Talk to your neighbor in the buffet line, as engaged in them as you’d want them to be in you. Go about the business of enjoying each other’s company in the here and now.