DEAR HARRIETTE: I am going to a class reunion soon, and it has been almost 20 years. I feel horrible about what I'm going to say because I wouldn't have thought of myself like this, but I feel really self-conscious about going. I have gained a lot of weight over the years and do not feel like I look my best. I don't have enough time to drop 40 pounds or really do anything other than maybe to buy a new dress. I don't want my college friends to give me the side eye when I see them. I was so fashionable when I was in school, but those days are long over! Am I overthinking this? How can I be more at ease for this trip? I want to see my old friends, but a big part of me wants to hide. -- To Go or Not to Go, Washington, D.C.
DEAR TO GO OR NOT TO GO: Would it help for you to know that there are a whole lot of other people from your class who are probably feeling the same way? People obsess about their appearance when it comes to reconnecting after many years. The truth is, just about everyone will look different. Some will be bigger -- honestly, most will have gained weight. Some will be smaller. Some will be bald. Some will be ill. Some will be crotchety. Some will be warm and loving. They will represent a broad swath of realities.
Your job is to give yourself a pat on the back for committing to attending the reunion. If it will make you feel better, buy a new dress. More important, though, is to bring your joyful self. Bring a big smile and genuine happiness that you are all together. Resist making a disclaimer about your weight. It is not necessary. Focus on connecting with your fellow classmates.