The dreaded class reunion

Class reunions.

You either find them fun, or a complete waste of time. There's no middle ground on this.

That gathering where adults reconnect with people they spent a good part of their youth with, is a good thing because it is a chance for people to catch up and find out how one another is doing.

But it's also a bad thing because, well, it is a chance for people to catch up and find out how one another is doing.

While there are those who enjoy meeting up with old friends and being fascinated and amused by the different life stories, there are others who view such reunions as an opportunity just for people to show off how good their lives are.

They attend it to go through the motions, fuelled by a fear of missing out.

In fact, some of you might be staring at your phone screens and reading this column while sitting at one right now. I see you.

As you head to the venue, thoughts run through your head.

Will conversations be awkward? Whatever you do, don't talk about the weather. Everybody knows weather talk is just void filler.

Will my teachers actually still remember me? After all, I no longer have that ridiculous bowl haircut.

Amid all these gatherings, I came to the realisation that there is not really a "right" life stage to be at. To me, life is not about the destination, but the hesitation.

What's become of the popular kid, the superstar athlete, the class clown, the bully, and all the other stereotypes of the typical classroom?

Well, fret not.

I recently had two class reunions.

Last month, I attended the 10-year homecoming of my secondary school batch - St Joseph's Institution's class of 2007.

It was interesting seeing everyone at different stages in our lives.

Almost everything is on social media these days. So by the time we got to the event, we already kind of knew what's up with who.

We would ask someone whom we already knew was engaged: "Hey did you get engaged or something?"

And they would say "Yes" and for some reason we still acted surprised, uttering something along the lines of "Oh nice, congrats man!"

One of my former classmates already has kids. Kids, as in the plural form of the word. He has two.

He spends his Friday nights feeding his kids milk, while I spend mine feeding myself beer. Or vodka. Or wine. I really don't remember.

(Jokes aside, alcoholism is a serious issue, so check yourself before you wreck yourself. Call Alcoholics Anonymous if you need help.)

And those teachers we worried would not remember us? Well, they do. You find out your lower secondary form teacher is actually the wife of one of your university lecturers, and that it is indeed a small world after all.

Also, some of us forgot the school song.

A few weeks after, I met up with a bunch of my primary school classmates over dinner, people whom I have known for almost two decades.

(That's a frightening thought, considering how "the 90s" still seems like just a few years ago in my head.)

One of my closest friends in primary school is now working in a rock climbing gym, which I find pretty cool. Guess you can say, he's got a good grip on life.

We reminisced how it was all a stroke of luck that we met. Our parents sent us to Huamin Primary School, tucked away in Yishun, simply because we all lived in the area.

Amid all these gatherings, I came to the realisation that there is not really a "right" life stage to be at.

To me, life is not about the destination, but the hesitation.

Those moments in our lives where we hit the proverbial fork in the road and have to choose a path are the ones that make a difference in where life takes us, and it also means every single one of us has our own unique adventures.

And that is beautiful.

But maybe I'm just naive. At 26, I'm pretty new to this reunion thing. Some older colleagues and friends have told me they generally do not like such gatherings.

"I don't value reunions. If I cared about them, I would have kept in touch," one told me.

Perhaps the older you get, the further you drift from that romanticised memory of your school days.

What was once dear to your heart becomes just a dot on your timeline. You have more important things to worry about and fill your time with.

But the class reunion is also a chance to re-live a simpler time, when getting caught for cheating resulted in a meeting with the discipline master and not the police, and when we did not have the responsibility of full-time jobs and making money.

It can be a form of escape, just a few hours to pretend we are young and free again.

I am sure I will have many more such reunions to come. And every time we come together, our stories will be different and we will be different people.

And that's the magic of class reunions, at least to me.

• #opinionoftheday is a column for younger writers in the newsroom to write about issues that matter to them and their peers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 24, 2017, with the headline 'The dreaded class reunion'. Print Edition | Subscribe