The More People Change, the More They Stay the Same?

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(Reflections on a High School Reunion)


“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born—
and the day you find out why.”

Mark Twain

I love this quote. Mark Twain was on to something. Most of us spend much of our lives wondering why we’re here. What is my purpose? What am I meant to do? To be? Perhaps we ponder this most during our high school years—when we’re coming of age. I suppose this topic is on my mind now because I attended my high school class reunion recently. (A big one--with a zero at the end of it.)

Since I hadn’t seen most of my classmates in years, I wondered if I would recognize them and would they recognize me—that is, without looking at our senior picture name tag? And what would we talk about? And beyond appearance, how have they changed?

When I arrived, I wasted no time making the rounds and greeting them. My goal was to talk with every classmate. By the end of the night, I came close to achieving my goal, and in the process, reconnected on a deeper emotional level than I thought possible. In my view, gone were the cliques, small talk, and bragging rights. Instead, conversations were open, honest, and deep. With no reason to impress, and nothing to hide, people were transparent.

In one conversation, one classmate said, “At this stage of life, we are no longer who we once were.” Another added, “I’d have to say, in high school I was only a fraction of the person I was to become. In high school, you are like this diamond in the rough. As you age, experiences allow you to see many more facets of yourself. You have all of your life ahead of you, and I don’t think you even know enough to appreciate that fact. Some of us found ourselves doing something quite different than what we might have imagined.”

While much of what my classmates said is true, I’ve chewed on their thoughts, and noodled a counterpoint for the last two weeks since the reunion. I believe, at our core, while we have significantly changed, we’re also very much the same. Yes, now we are more mature, and our interests are broader, our potential wider, our achievements greater, our perspective deeper, our attitudes wiser, our talents finer, and our intellect sharper—but our personality—and our person, is essentially the same.

I believe, in many ways, we are still similar to who we once were—that younger version of ourselves. Most times, our values, our integrity, our thought process, our interests, and our sense of humor are similar.

Ever notice how we still enjoy the same songs, poems, books, and movies for the same reasons we once did? If we could go back, would we want to reinvent ourselves? Or would our younger-self smile at our present-self and say, “Thanks for living our dream.”

While my classmate was right when she said she was only a fraction of the person she was to become—I wonder if that was more about “achievements,” than heart. 

In the weeks since the reunion, I’ve been thinking a lot about change—and friendship. I’ve concluded that there is some truth to the notion that the more people change, the more they stay the same. 

And, when it comes to old friendships, my reunion reinforced something else—something Tennessee Williams once said:

“Time doesn’t take away from friendship—nor does separation.”



SOMETHING TO CHEW ON:  What steps can you take to renew an old friendship? Think of an old friendship and commit yourself to reconnect and breathe new life into it. Let me know your thoughts on how you are different AND the same as when you were in high school. My email address is below.



This week I came across these quotes on the beauty of friendship:


“Each friend represents a world in us—a world not born until they arrive—and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
 Anais Nin


“True friends are never apart,
maybe in distance, but never in heart.”
Helen Keller


“Friendship isn’t a big thing—it’s a million little things.”
Paulo Coelho


“Friends are siblings God never gave us.”


“I have learned that to be with those I like is enough.”
Walt Whitman


“Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends.”
 H. Jackson Brown Jr.

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