When we grow older or become more mature, whichever way you prefer to call it, we tend to see ourselves differently than we did when we were younger. This is especially true if we engaged in personal develoment or became more successful or changed our appearance or lost weight or found a perfect partner, or did anything else to get rid of what used to be a source of shame and ridicule in our younger age.
Perhaps this is even more true for those of us who were bullied, excluded from the in-crowd, didn't perform well in school or were simply considered as somehow 'inadequate' by the people with whom we deseperately wanted to be accepted. Teenage years were a frustrating and humiliating experience for many because we were the outsiders who so wanted to fit in but were told very bluntly that there was something wrong with us.
As those painful high-school years went by and we had the oportunity to reinvent ourselves at college, we got the impression that we can finally breathe and be ourselves. Alas, sooner or later we again stumbled upon someone who made us feel less worthy, and again we faced a similar trauma of questioning our self-worth. Ouir self-confidence plummeted again. what else! That made us even more determined to invest in ourselves, to become the best version of ourselves, to achieve whatever was deemed worthy of praise and admiration in other people's eyes.
Many of us started changing our physical appearance or perfecting a skill or working harder at work, driven by the desire to be successful and to earn respect from our colleagues. Many of us actually managed to achieve our goal and on that wave of popularity we felt, for the first time ever, as if we truly fit in. While we strove to gain outside admiration, however, we often forgot that what we were doing was not so much to be true to ourselves but to please others. That's why no matter how successful we have become, the insecure child inside of us has still not left the building. At least not completely. Deep down we were still very much concerned that people would discover that we're nothing but the outsider, the loser, the laughing stock that we used to be. Because in times of distress or lack of success we still believed ourselves to be the kid that wasn't with the in-crowd decades ago.
Hence, the relevance of high-school reunions. When the new, improved, self-confident adult that we are returns to the small town, and sometimes small-minded people, to face the tormentors from the past, that adult returns to the reuion in the child ego state, as we call it. No matter how successful or popular we are today, when we interact with the old crowd that made us feel like shit, we inadvertently fall into that same role. Unless we have truly made progress in our personal growth and are sincerely content with who we have become.
The next time you go to your high-school reunion, or meet someone from your past life when you were a different person, observe how you behave and feel in the situation. If you regress to your old patterns of behaviour, cognition and emotion, then there is more self-development work to do. If you don't, then congratulations! You have reached the stage in your life where you're happy and content with who you are and you no longer care what other people think.
“If we want to change the world, we need to talk about the elephant in the room. That is why I love real people who say what they mean and mean what they say. No fluff, no lies and no pretence.”