How to be exactly successful enough to attend your high school reunion

It’s that time of year again — the annual high school reunion season. It happens every year! If you were the popular jock, you might be looking forward to it. If you were the weird band nerd (no shame in that!), you might be skipping out. But what about the people who were somewhere in between? 

If you were a moderately-popular-high-schooler turned moderately successful adult, this guide is for you. We’re going to outline four ways that you can impress your former peers and prove to them that you’re absolutely the most successful person from your graduating class. They’ll write about you in the local paper! Your mom will love that.

Make up an excuse for why you’re in town

Let’s face it: the people who are actually wildly successful probably wouldn’t show up to their high school reunion. That said… If I were, say, Oprah Winfrey, I would absolutely show up. Because I would want to go brag that I am Oprah Winfrey. But assuming neither of us is Oprah Winfrey, you need to make up an excuse as to why you’re there. Here are a few suggestions:

  • You’re considering donating a new gymnasium to your high school and want to meet with the superintendent.
  • The nonprofit (for which you’re on the board) has a conference in town.
  • You’re helping a sick (but recovering!) family member get back on their feet.

Notice how all of these suggestions showcase your generosity. Added bonus!

Act mysterious

The less you say, the more people will want to know. You don’t need to lie about your successes. But, if you act like you have to keep a few things on the DL, it will sound even more intriguing. NDAs, etc. You get it, big shot.

Being asked where your partner is? Say they couldn’t come because they’re performing overseas. Old friend wondering if you have kids? Give them the “shhh…” sound… Perhaps it’s too early to announce something so exciting! Someone asks what you do for work? Chuckle a little… After all, you can’t divulge too much because you’re under contract…

Embellish a little 

You know how when you write a resume, you turn a job duty like “filed paperwork” into something way more impressive, like “organized data cross-functionally across teams to ensure leadership and team have the most accurate, up-to-date information?”

The same logic applies.

The important thing is that you don’t want to be proven wrong. Make sure your embellishing is based on reality. Or, at least can’t be disproven by a quick Google search. Here are a few examples:

  • Stay-at-home parent of three kids? Refer to your kids as your clients. Now, it sounds like you manage the careers of celebrity divas.
  • Product manager at a little-known plastics company? Great, tell everyone you invented Popsockets.
  • Between jobs? Tell everyone you’re working on a secret project for an unnamed client. Shh!

Redirect the conversation

In order to remain mysterious (and therefore trick everyone into thinking you’re a massive success) always, always, always redirect the conversation back to your peers. Convince them that you’re SO BORED of your success that you just wanted to hear about what’s new with them. The less you divulge about your life, the better. Here are a few different things you can say to redirect:

  • “Oh, it’s not as cool as it sounds… Inventing is really just a bunch of meetings and emails! What about your cool job?”
  • “No, I definitely didn’t mean that Sam Smith. I manage a DIFFERENT British musician’s career. I can’t tell you my client’s name! What about you, do you work with any famous people?”
  • “Trust me, you’re not going to want to hear about that time Jeff Bezos embarrassed himself at my company’s holiday party… How are your kids doing?”

TL;DR: Lie.

Literally, just lie.

You’re never gonna see these people again, who cares? Live out your mediocre high school self’s fantasy — we’re proud of you no matter what.