Ten years ago, I was nervously sitting in the back row of my high school graduating class. I had to, since my last name put me there. Why was I nervous? Was it because I was scared about the life I was going to lead in the coming years? No. I was nervous because I didn’t want to trip and fall after I was handed my fake diploma in front of so many faces I’d gotten used to in the previous four years.
When I was 18 and about to breach into adulthood, I wasn’t thinking about the student loans I’d incur or the stiff competition I’d eventually face after I graduated from college and went job-hunting. I cared about what my peers thought about me, though I’m sure I wouldn’t have admitted that back then. I don’t think any of us would. We were so independent and carefree, for the most part, that it seemed like any judgment thrown our way was not a factor at all.
High school wasn’t always about that, right?
With that question, I agree and disagree. I say this because my 10-year high school reunion is today, and not everyone is going. Ideally, it’d be great if every person in my Modesto High Class of 2000 attended, but some simply can’t. That, I understand. But then, there are folks who are totally against it because they’re not completely satisfied with their lives.
For me, high school was pretty rough. It was during these years that my stutter was at its worst, sometimes forcing me to blatantly lie about my stomachache just so I could retreat to the nurse’s office and avoid my oral book report. And when I spoke, it was rarely smooth. The only people who really got to know me on a personal level didn’t number beyond a handful.
There were other setbacks, too, but they were quite minor stuff. Even so, I managed to get through high school.
It might sound like I’m making a bigger deal than I should about high school, but I also think the class of 2000 — regardless of what high school you went to — is a special class. What we went through since graduating separates us from all the previous classes, including the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the explosion of the social networking on the Internet (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace) and technology (the iPhone, for example) and, of course, the most recent significant impact of the 21st century: the recession.
And I’m not the only one that thinks so. On Thursday, ABC premiered “My Generation,” a staged documentary about a class of 2000 in Austin, Texas. It’s a very intriguing series, chronicling the current lives of people who had so much hope before they left high school. I can relate to some of the storylines: the jock who gave up a basketball scholarship to serve his country, the friendships that ended on a bad note, the success-minded student whose idea of success has changed since high school because of the economy, and the beauty queen that, well, stayed beautiful.
A few of my close friends turned to the military after 9/11, a few of us never changed and many of us were directly affected by the economy.
Life after high school has been a very surreal experience for me, though that’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed every minute of it. I graduated college, worked all sorts of jobs, fell in and out of love and lived in a couple states outside of California only to move back home and become a “boomerang kid.” The thing is, I’m certain I’m not the only one.
Just the other night, I was at a concert in San Francisco and bumped into a girl I didn’t speak to very much during high school. It didn’t matter, because we spent about 30 minutes discussing our up-and-down lives before the show started. And I just remember thinking about our graduation day and how nervous I was.
We’re nervous again, wondering what our classmates will think of us at the reunion.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.