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University Reunion. Wednesday August 10, 2016

Tell me, just why am I doing this again?

Why am I travelling 252 miles to see people I haven't seen for thirty years, who probably don't want to see me anyway? After all – there must be a good reason why we haven't seen each other in all those thirty years, they obviously didn't want to keep in touch with me.

And what will I say to all of them, who have no doubt made tremendous successes of their lives, when they ask me what I have done with my life? Abject Failures R Us. Well, me, anyway.

Wouldn't it be easier just to turn around and go back home?

But I didn't turn round and my little Mini chugged away steadily, reducing the miles between me and this reunion.

Thank goodness it was only a society reunion and not an official university one.
And, actually, it was wonderful.

Everyone was pleased to see me and I them. Yes, I was shaking like crazy to begin with, but by the end of the day, had relaxed totally – and with no alcohol involved!

Turned out, none of us there had made wonderful successes of our lives. Some of us had been lucky in our careers, many had been blessed in marriage and children, but most of us confessed to just lurching from one thing to another and dealing with whatever came up next. That's life, after all.

We laughed over old photos, partook in a quiz, told old jokes and spared a quiet moment for the friends who had been taken early from this world. Far too many of them, it turned out.

It was surprisingly easy to tell them all about my bi-polar and Moodscope. They all completely "got" it. Maybe partly because this was the reunion of the Christian Union, which meant for those of us who were there, we maybe have slightly different values in what constitutes success. Still hanging onto our faith, albeit for most of us a much changed and matured faith, is the number one criterion. Contributing to the world is right up there too. Making money, reaching the top of the career ladder – less so.

I came away having renewed some old friendships, with a list of snail- mail and email addresses, and a warm feeling of acceptance and solidarity.

We all said "let's not leave it another thirty years!", but I bet we will. Life's like that. But this time, I won't take it personally.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Belinda Wed, Aug 10th 2016 @ 7:10am

Hi Mary, how lovely that it turned out the way it did. How good that you pressed through. I am down this morning, but to read of your positive experience as you kept moving forward despite the negative thoughts is helpful to me. Reminding me to keep going and believe the best. Thank you. God bless you

Hopeful One Wed, Aug 10th 2016 @ 7:17am

Hi Mary- when I started reading your blog I immediately noticed some negative statements ,assumptions and judgements like "After all – there must be a good reason why we haven't seen each other ...they obviously didn't want to keep in touch with me.....Abject Failures R Us. Well, me, anyway" and I thought will, she won't she? Fortunately as I read on I was heartened to read that you ignored those negative statements, assumptions and judgements and went ahead anyway with the overall happy result you describe. If one does that often enough with the output of our negative Inner Voice ( our NUTS and ANTS) one will most often achieve the happy result you had. Takes discipline and constant vigilance but well worth it.

Confucius did not say ...

Man who leaps off cliff jumps to conclusion.

Man who runs in front of car gets tired, but man who runs behind car gets exhausted.

LillyPet Wed, Aug 10th 2016 @ 10:37am

Lols! :))

Sylke Wed, Aug 10th 2016 @ 7:26am

Good morning, while reading your post I started reflecting the last five or six years: I had some of these reunions (seven schools, several different counties, two diffrent countries, two different continents - I'm really lucky to have had chances like that and I have wonderful people in my life but sometimes I was just stressed and felt lost)and on my way to all reunions I felt (and still feel) like you - still shaking and being positive upset but it's getting better.
And yes, I agree, mostly it will take a long time to the next reunion but when I take my social non-compatibility (and that's often, I work on it)- sometimes it's enough to know that those who touched my life over the past years are just a click or call away. Just to know that I can reach them - again.
Have a beautiful day.

LillyPet Wed, Aug 10th 2016 @ 11:05am

Hi Mary,
I liked your "Life is like that".
Yes, I still get those negative anxieties about going into a situation too sometimes. At our age having been through a few, at least there is a small voice saying "It will turn out better than you think."
The number of times I have shared my anxiety about something I'm dreading and the person I shared it with asks how it went and I've been able to say that it went better than expected. Maybe it helps us to prepare.
It's a great life lesson to share, I do with my daughter if she worries about failure and I hope I remember what you said about life being like that and not taking it personally (something I do alot).
Sending Love to all. LPxxx

katharine Wed, Aug 10th 2016 @ 11:21am

Loved reading this post. I suffer terribly from "everyone else is a tremendous success" whereas I am a howling failure. Even though, I'm not really a howling failure, I'm just not where I thought I'd be at this age/stage... but then who is??
Thank you Mary and all other bloggers. I rarely post but really appreciate my morning email...
K x

katharine Wed, Aug 10th 2016 @ 11:22am

Loved reading this post. I suffer terribly from "everyone else is a tremendous success" whereas I am a howling failure. Even though, I'm not really a howling failure, I'm just not where I thought I'd be at this age/stage... but then who is??
Thank you Mary and all other bloggers. I rarely post but really appreciate my morning email...
K x

Ruth Wed, Aug 10th 2016 @ 11:49am

Thanks for the post Mary it was really interesting. I would like to say that I am an atheist, and I value health, family, the natural world, kindness and also all the small things in life, like the fact that I saw a rainbow on my way both to and from work yesterday. I do not place value how much money I or others earn how 'successful' people are, or the material things of life. I have always tried to remember the beauty of the world over the last 20 years while living with depression. We must take care to remember that values and empathy for other people's struggles come from the individual regardless of their religion/no religion. We all own these things or none of us do. I am glad you found the reunion a positive experience and I'm sure your post will help others to pluck up the courage to do likewise.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 10th 2016 @ 8:39pm

Hello Ruth. Of course it is not only Christians who value things other than worldly success. I wasn't sure whether to include the fact that this was a "religious" reunion or not' but, after all, my faith is very much at the core of who I am, so it seemed disingenuous to fudge that fact.

Graeme Wed, Aug 10th 2016 @ 2:39pm

Thank you, Mary! I loved this post so much that I talked about it in my daily comment. May your little chugging Mini carry you bravely on to every challenge and opportunity.

patricia Wed, Aug 10th 2016 @ 5:48pm

Mary how incredible you drove all that way feeling the way you did, you went you conquered your fears, bless you.
I feel so humble because we changed our car in March, I went down with one virus after another and was never able to get used the new (new to us) car. A couple of weeks ago I began to have a bit more energy, BUT I haven't driven the car and don't know if I will again??
I think you pushed your you limits and should congratulate yourself, well done a gold star.

The Gardener Wed, Aug 10th 2016 @ 6:27pm

I can only think of literary 'reunions'. When Harriet Vane goes back to her Oxford college for 'Gaudy Night' and her observations on what has befallen her fellow students - often dissapointment, failure to 'shine' and pure nuttiness. Then there is the Joyce Grenfell classic 'lumpy Latimer', oh, you remember me like that. I know many men re-live the only time they felt 'alive' before returning to humdrum existence by never missing re-union dinner, university of regiment. I did go to a school reunion once - found I did not like it any more - but most surprised that my ex headmistress thought I had 'done well'. I was lecturing the local history society, and SHE was at MY feet. So glad you really 'clicked' Mary.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Aug 10th 2016 @ 9:03pm

Oh yes - I do remember Gaudy Night! Heartening to think that even Oxford graduates fail to shine. I know that my former teachers seem impressed that I am now a writer. I hope one day to meet my A level English teacher - she detested me, and failed to disguise her disgust at having to award me the English prize. I seem to remember only handing in homework when the subject actually interested me and going against her advice in writing my A level exam extended essay. She said, "whatever you do, don't attempt to write a story!". Hmmm - guess what I did! Even now I look back on it and say "That was a damn good bit of writing." So - even though I am not a "successful" writer, I have actually completed two novels to date: more than most aspiring writers! :)

Orangeblossom Thu, Aug 11th 2016 @ 7:49am

Hi Mary thanks for your blog about Reunions. I have been to one & because I didn't complete the course & was still a student, I did feel totally out of place & extremely patronised. This annoyed me & I haven't been to a similar social event. I know that I don't like large crowds as they frighten me to bits. I was happy to read that your social has left you with good memories. Look forward to reading your blog next Wednesday.

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