Two of my elementary school years were characterized by Mean Girls. Girls who had been my friends in years past but had since decided I wasn’t worthy of their company.
I remember at recess running up to play and all of them running away to hide behind the backstop.
They called me names. They told others not to play with me.
I remember hurling the word “hate” with as much venom and volume as I could muster across the blacktop. It was the only way my 10-year-old self could express the pain inside.
Then there were days they would play with me. We would go to each others’ houses or play at the neighborhood park, but when we got to school, again they would run.
I would come home crying, telling my mom how awful those girls were.
Eventually they became bored. Or maybe I found other friends. At some point the drama was over and I went on with my life. But I never really forgot how sad and lonely that time was.
I never really felt like I belonged when I was with new people. I told myself things like: “they don’t really like me, they’re just pretending.” I waited for new friends to run away like the old ones had.
Even into my adulthood.
And I finally realized something: my new friends don’t run away. They hang out. Because . . . I think they really do like me!
In fact, I’ve had a handful of friends from the time I was 2 years old to present. And another handful from my college days till now. Still a few more I’ve met in different places I’ve lived and we go out of our way to visit with each other when we’re nearby. So it seems I might be a worthwhile friend to have after all.
I’ve always thought of that time period in elementary school as hard and sad and terrible. I’ve always said “no child should have to go through that.”
But I think that if I hadn’t been through that time, I wouldn’t be able to have the friends I have now. And I have some good ones.
First of all, there are the girlfriends I made playing handball during that terrible time. Friends like Karen and Sara. We’re still friends (though far away).
Do you think that if I hadn’t been through those days of rejection I would be able to have such solid relationships now? I’m not sure.
Did you have any bad “friend” experiences as a child?