Well, as planned yesterday, I spent the rainy evening curled up on the couch watching about a dozen different shows on TV—and the one I was most giddy about starting was High School Reunion on TVLand. Dang, that’s a good show. If you don’t watch it, it’s wildly complex: It’s about all these people who have…a high school reunion.
Anyway, this year it’s the 20 year reunion of Chaparral High in Vegas, and I think what draws me to the show most is that those reality cameras, over two weeks in Hawaii, dive into one of the deepest and most ultimate philosophical questions: Can people change?
This guy John, for instance, was apparently an ignorant jerk in high school, and still is today. Cyndi, the high school nerd, was never accepted back then by the sexy “Summer Girls,” and still feels like an outsider so far. And the Summer Girls? They were pretty then and pretty now (plus Botox and boob jobs), but as they showed this week, there may be some warmth and wisdom behind those tans. We’ll see.
But the three dating players this week were Jodi, Joe and Rachelle. Jodi was a cheerleader who dated the football hunk Joe Basso in high school—though Joe used to cheat on her consistently. And Rachelle, who was pretty but hidden behind an overbearing boyfriend in high school, just got out of a bad marriage and is gorgeous now.
Jodi and Joe shared a kiss on the first night of the reunion. But by day two he was making out with Rachelle in a natural rock hotel pool. Both women then reflected on what this meant for their lives, and both weighed in on the ultimate question of change.
Jodi, watching Joe off with another woman as usual, said: “In twenty years, nothing about Joe has changed.”
Rachelle, after kissing Joe, said, “It gives me so much hope that love is still in the cards for me.”
Here’s what this show is reminding me about change: We cannot change other people. Jodi can’t change Joe Basso and no one seems to be able to get through to pigheaded John. We try—oh, we try—but we cannot change other people. What we can change, however, is ourselves. We can change how we think. How we see things. The choices we make. The baggage we let go of. The hope we choose to hold onto. The people on High School Reunion are evidence that some things about us stay the same unless we make a determined effort to do or think differently. Change is possible if we choose it.
If you don’t like your pessimism, change how you see what happens to you! If you don’t like your weight, change what you eat! If you don’t like the people you continue to date and be hurt by, change who you date! I know it’s easier written than done, but it can be done. People change every day.
Jodi, as crushed as she was, forgave Joe for putting her through the ringer in high school, and chose to wish him well in life. “I want you to be happy,” she said. And afterward, she felt freer and lighter for it, the weight of twenty years of pain lifted. She chose to look forward instead of back. And Rachelle is doing the same thing. She’s leaving her bad relationships behind and hoping for the best. Whatever happens with Joe, at least she gets to feel giddy about a guy again.
Learn from this nutty TVLand show. The next time you want to date someone you wish would change, stop thinking about who they could be with the right push or fix or potential (Maybe he’ll get a better job! Maybe she’ll start being nicer! Maybe he’ll change his mind and want kids after all!). You cannot change other people unless they want to change themselves. Instead, change how you see your life. Change the choices you make about the people who deserve your time. Change what you’ll put up with and only accept the best for yourself. And, like, Rachelle, choose to see how clearly love is in the cards for you.