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A class of failures, but still fantastic

 Posted: 2:00 AM July 09, 2012

For those of you who wonder what I've been up to in my utterly fascinating life, let me inform you that I did, in fact, attend my 10-year high school reunion.

In case you've forgotten — you may not dwell as much on my life as I do — I had been anxious about attending because I felt like a little bit of a failure at life.

After the original column ran in the paper, I received several supportive emails, mostly from people who have never met me and have no idea that I often go several days without brushing my hair and firmly believe in the existence of Bigfoot.

One of these people was even so kind as to send me a "script" of sorts for getting through events such as reunions. Mostly the script involved focusing on good things and turning the questions back around on the other person.

This was truly excellent advice. In fact, I got advice that was so good my parents suggested that I run a reverse advice column, pleading for people's recommendations on my life problems rather than trying to solve the various issues other people may have. Of course, running true to form, I discarded, ignored and completely forgot any of the advice that anyone gave me.

I believe in admitting to the worst parts of myself. I am short and fat and selfish. I manage my money poorly, never separate my laundry and am sorely tempted to bite people when I'm mad at them (an urge I've resisted since around age 8).

Through this habit, I've learned that I am no more terrible than most other people; other people are just better at hiding it. If we're honest about our problems, flaws and personality defects, then we can help other people become more comfortable with their own shortcomings.

At my high school reunion, I reconnected with some people who have gone on to do amazing things. People who have traveled extensively, went to law school, and have actually done the family thing in the right order (met, dated, got married, and then had a baby). I was totally impressed.

I, on the other hand, led most of my conversations with the fact that I was considering moving back in with my parents, that I have cats that shed enough to create a whole new cat each week, and my only hobby is going online to read grammar blogs (I adore grammar blogs; it doesn't get better than a good weekly update on the difference between "effect" and "affect").

Well, guess what, it turns out that everyone else has problems like mine. Maybe not the same problems, but equally frustrating and anxiety-provoking. That night I met other people who admit to lying awake at night worrying whether they are slowly but surely sending their children down a path of lifelong psychotherapy, are watching their pennies, and are either moving in with their parents or wishing that they could.

We joked about classmates who cheated on tests, and how we used to beg our homeroom teacher to buy us doughnuts every week.

To be totally honest, going to my high school reunion didn't make me feel like any less of a failure. I still forget to get my clothes out of the dryer before they turn into a crinkled mess that resembles old wrapping paper. I still drink boxed wine. And when I forget to shave my legs for more than a week or two, I just try to forget to ever look below my waist while standing in the mirror.

Going to my reunion simply proved that we're a class full of messed-up failures, each in his or her own way. But all of us are equally fantastic.

Zoe Abel graduated from Ashland High School in 2002. She has fond memories of all her classmates and teachers, but particularly the vice principal who used to buy them doughnuts. You can contact her at dailyzoe@gmail.com.


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