Back to the old school

Joey Garcia

I am a transgender woman and my high-school reunion is a few months away. I can’t decide whether or not to attend. I moved away from my hometown immediately after high school, never went back, and have not been in touch with anyone (my parents are deceased) for decades. I am certain that no one knows anything about me. I was a wallflower in high school and didn’t have many friends, but I feel compelled to go to the reunion. At the same time, I am nervous about attending and dealing with people’s reactions to how I’ve changed. Any thoughts?

High-school reunions don’t veer too far from the cliché: Nearly everyone has managed a 180-degree shift from their teenage self. Most of the popular kids are now ordinary, and the studious kids who had been overlooked in high school are now attractive and accomplished. Here’s the crash course: If high school counts as the best years of your life, you haven’t yet matured into the best, most honest version of yourself. But that’s not your problem, is it? You are wondering how to reintroduce yourself to the kids who spent four years mostly ignoring you. The reality is that when you will show up, shining as your truly gorgeous self, some people will slide over to chat with you. Others will fall back to talk about you. A handful won’t know what to do. In other words, your experience will mimic the experiences everyone else is having at the reunion (and the experiences many people had in high school). Whatever happens, sip this nectar: The only opinion you need to concern yourself with that night is your own. Pay attention to your emotions as you allow the people from your past to meet you as you are. Notice how you feel meeting each person as they are now. After all, you are not the only person whose appearance has radically altered. Few people will resemble their yearbook photos due to weight gains and losses, or plastic surgery, stress and other health crises. Hey, it’s what’s on the inside that matters, right? Allow your intuition to guide you toward the people worth chatting with that evening. And remember that prejudice is the sign of a small mind. If anyone behaves badly toward you, sass the fool by saying, “Do you need to be sent to detention?” or a similarly silly one-liner.

My father just passed away, although he was dead to me already, because we had been estranged. My family thinks I am cold for not going to the funeral, but they don’t understand that my relationship with him was different than what they know of him. I am happy he is dead and that he will face the truth of what he has done. I plan to go on a retreat and deal with this on my own. Any words you have would be appreciated.

Every life experience contributes to our freedom, but most humans are terrified of being free. We frequently choose fundamentalism, a way of thinking that worships the past and illusions (like parents are perfect), instead of employing our freedom. Evolve beyond fundamentalism by respecting your individuality, using free will wisely and serving the greater good to ensure a better, more sacred world. Begin by ditching the notion that your life would have been better if your father had been different. Your life would be different, certainly, but better? That’s a mystery. So, forgive your father, for your own sake. Forgive yourself for expecting more of your father than he was capable of providing. Grieve what you’ve got, then pour everything else into art or service to the world. You are free now to live the life you have imagined.

Meditation of the week
“In convergence lies genius,” wrote Rebecca Solnit, the author of astonishing books on politics, environment, art and human rights. Can you embrace the brilliance of what is coming together in your life?

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