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Don’t Want to Attend Your 50th High School Reunion? 5 Authentic, Important Reasons to Go!

By Elizabeth Dunkel October 08, 2019 Lifestyle

I can’t believe it, just as no one can believe it: the famous 50th high school reunion has cropped up on me. The sentiments have long been expressed: it went so fast. It seems like a cliché, the 50th… are we really that old?

And then there’s the big sigh. And the big question we each ask the one or two friends we’ve stayed in touch with all these years. “Are you going to go?” And, “What’s the point?”

The Ladder

This sigh is different from the ones you may have had in response to earlier reunions. The 10th reunion is about competition left over from high school – seeing who’s still hot, who got fat, who has the better job, who is married, who has kids.

High school rivalries, insecurities, and cliques are still in play. There’s still the possibility of connecting with a former love – or finding a new love.

Well, that’s a possibility at every reunion, isn’t it? Rekindling.

The 20th reunion is when we’re well on our way in life, though still comparing careers, children, marriages made, divorces, money earned or not.

At the 30th, we’re in our primes, and people are on second careers, divorced, starting over, moving. Life has been “felt.” You are who you are and where you are in your life, and for the most part, people have stopped comparing.

The 40th rolls around and you can’t believe you’re – OMG! – 60! We quietly compare the wear and tear on our bodies. It’s a very relaxed reunion.

Which is why when you get to the 50th, you think, what’s the point? To see how old we’ve become? To see who looks older or “worse” than you do? (“Who are all these old people?”)

Now it’s the grandchildren game – who’s got some, who’s got none. Who’s living the happiest retirement, who’s still proud to be working, and who’s not happy to be working.

The 50th is the reunion many people opt out of, thinking, “I don’t need to do this again. We won’t ever see each other again. What do we have in common really, anyway?”

It’s a Privilege to Go to Your 50th Reunion

When I was on the fence about going, I asked our reunion coordinator (bless his heart!!!) to send me a list of deceased classmates. Shock. Dismay.

That did it. They couldn’t go to the reunion, but I could.

You should go to your 50th reunion for the simple fact and joy that you’re still alive. It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to attend. Being alive is the point: it’s everything. If your class decides to hold a reunion after the 50th, an even higher percentage will be gone.

Don’t Live with Regret

I didn’t particularly want to go to my 50th, but when I asked myself the question I always ask myself when I’m waffling about something, “Would you regret it if you didn’t go?” my answer was yes.

Yes, I would regret not going. I would always wonder. I would say to myself: why were you being so silly? I booked the plane and the hotel immediately and rallied my friends to join me.

Talking About the Present, Not the Past

The 50th reunion is not about comparing anymore. Nor is it time to talk about the past as we did at other reunions. Rather, it’s about meeting as adults with long, rich lives behind us.

We meet each other anew, fresh, like new people at a great cocktail party. We meet with compassion and love, peace and goodwill. Now it’s time to talk about the present, how the world got to be the way it is, politics, cultural events, and how we plan to live our old age.

Like It or Not, It’s Your Tribe

Your high school class is a group of people like no other. Many of your high school classmates you’ve known since kindergarten! That’s pretty amazing.

And for better or worse, you spent the formative years of your crucial, memorable, tortured adolescence together. You are bound together by a collective consciousness that is precious and rare.

Hey, It’s Iconic!

Go, if for no other reason then just because it’s an iconic thing to do — “to go to your 50th high school reunion.” Join the club, join the conversation.

As I navigate in my present day world, I meet people and tell them I’m going to my 50th, and many of them say, “Oh, it’s great, I went to mine!”

Join the party! Adolescence is iconic, it never changes its stripes no matter how much tech is in the picture. Well, so is a 50th high school reunion an iconic thing to do.

If I have made one person, who reads this article, decide to go to their 50th reunion, I will consider my job well done! Next up: a report on what happened at that memorable event!

What is your reasoning for going (or not going) to your 50th high school reunion? If you already went, any thoughts to share? Let’s hear details from the frontlines!

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Mine is coming up in September & I want to go. But there is a classmate who hurt me badly a few years ago when we met up at an informal 42nd year reunion after not seeing each other for almost all those years. I’m afraid he & his new bride are going to be at the reunion & I never wanted to see or speak to him again. I don’t know what I’ll do if I come face to face with him…I’m definitely not sitting anywhere near him & his bride.


Throw a drink in his face if he says anything other than nice.


The real reason I don’t want to go it COVID!!! To be in an enclosed room with 150-200 UNmasked people is terrifying to me. Do I wear a mask? What do I do? I don’t want to hug a bunch of people!!


As a woman in her early 70’s who graduated from high school in the spring of 1969, I’ve attended all of my high school reunions, despite the fact that I was a recluse. It paid off, because I had fun having meaningful conversations with people that I didn’t know very well, and who ere not my associates in high school. Our 50th year reunion, which was three years ago, in October 2019, was the most fun of all, however.

Tara Talvin

I just returned from my #55 HS class reunion. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, it was so much fun and I can truthfully say everyone had a super great time. You are truly missing out with the lame “I really don’t know these people any more.” Or “I have nothing in common with them.” The article is right, this is a unique group of people that were in your life at a very transcendent period in your life and if you don’t go, you will be the one to lose, It will be a precious life memory if you go. It is a privilege to be alive and to go.


We are having our class reunion next month. Do you mind my asking what all you did for fun times at your reunion? We are struggling with how to keep the momentum going!!


I could’ve written this article, as it is everything I have been saying all year long, as a member of our 50th reunion committee. Rather than plagiarizing, I am going to paste this, WITH ATTRIBUTION, into my Facebook reunion page. I am not lazy, just worn out-our event will be Sept 30-Oct1. Thanks for the perfect words!

Jennie Williams

Hi there please let me know how you did the attribution into your Facebook reunion on not attending your 50th class reunion. I would appreciate it so much. Thanks in advance, Jennie Williams.


The Author

Elizabeth Dunkel is a writer and novelist who recently moved back to the U.S. after living in Merida, Mexico for 25 years. Elizabeth is the proud founder of the Merida English Library. As a Cambridge CELTA certified teacher of ESL, she considers herself not just a teacher but a dream maker. “Teaching English empowers people to reach their dreams.”

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