I recently looked at my high school yearbooks and they triggered thoughts about my high school years. I remember my freshman year of high school so clearly. Most people report feeling awkward and uncomfortable in their first year or two of high school, but mine were the best! I had a plethora of friends from my grade and also became close friends with some of the kids in the grades above me. We did everything together, from going to football games across the state to sleepovers most weekends. I felt different in my freshman and sophomore years: most of the time I felt like I belonged, especially as I was invited to parties, served on the student council, and met a kind-hearted, gentle boy who would become my high school boyfriend.
I tend to forget some of the sweet memories. Often, when I think of high school, I’m reminded of my horrendous senior year and my friends dropping me. I remember the summer before senior year, heading to a student council retreat with the other officers. We were good friends and had a lot of fun… If memory serves, we planned all the”initiatives” we would work on for the school year and we hung out on the University of New Mexico campus.
The rest of the memory is crystal clear. We had just returned from the planning session and it was a few days before the start of senior year. I was excitedly working on my college applications, studying for the SAT, and preparing for my AP classes. I called two of my best friends to ask if they wanted to meet up and they said they were too busy. Then, a day before school, I called again to make a plan for lunch the first day. One of the girls didn’t call me back and the other said she had things to do and couldn’t have lunch with me. What? My stomach dropped and I suddenly felt nauseas.You see, we had gone to lunch almost everyday for the past three years. I had a gut feeling that something was off. Rationalizing that they were doing their own applications or had family commitments, I decided to let it play out and talk at school the next day. When I approached them, they were distant and all but ignored me. A week passed and I felt lonely, sad, and confused. I just didn’t get what was happening. I felt punk’d.
I remember calling them again a couple weeks later and one of the girls pinned it on the other. I knew then that this was a joint decision and I was no longer in their club. She said I had “too many other friends and they didn’t want to be second best.” This felt crappy and so obscure to me. What? Why did they get to decide with whom I could be friends?
Initially, I thought it was my fault, that I should not have made friends with or gotten close to anyone else. I felt embarrassed because people would ask me why we didn’t spend as much noticeable time together, and I’d mumble that we all had our own things going on. I cried and whined to my parents about this situation, and felt extremely lonely. I most certainly didn’t expect THIS when it happened. I thought we’d be going into our senior year as the best of friends and create a lifetime of fun, positive memories together. Instead, we couldn’t have been more distant. I was sickened by their behavior and attitude toward me and friendship, in general.
I work with teenagers and hear about stories like this all the time, typically from the perspective of the girls who don’t know why their friends have dropped them unexpectedly. It’s the worst feeling. I tell them my story. Honestly, for a while, my senior year was pretty grim. I concentrated on my school work and continued to talk to my “other friends,” who proved to be really kind, loving people. I also eventually got closer with some new friends. One of my “best friends” and I repaired temporarily. I lost touch with the other one, though now we’re facebook friends and I see that she’s well.
This high school memory reminds me that relationships can change on a dime. Being removed from these particular people and the high school experience itself, I remember that we can’t control the outcomes or the motives of others. Rather, we can only work on ourselves and show up authentically, honestly, and do our best. Though much of my senior year sucked, I grew more independent and confident because of it.
I share this story because I know so many of you will be able to relate. I’m so glad I’m not there anymore. This is not a sob story. It’s a story of a memory and I know you have one, too.
Yesterday’s blog post was about Questioning Legality.
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