A letter to my young(er) friends…
I had dinner with a sweet friend tonight, and she relayed some of the difficulties her younger sister (an 8th grader) was currently dealing with. It made me think of a handful of the hurtful moments I had in middle and high school, and I wanted to share them. On the off chance they might make some of you, or some of your kids, I suppose, feel better.
When I finished 6th grade, I moved from California to Oklahoma. I had (somehow) been accepted into the “popular group” during my last few months in Cali, and I was riding high on my west coast popularity. Until, that is, my “best friends” from 6th grade decided they hated me, and along with tons of horrible letters, they sent me a dead fish. Yes. You read correctly. They wrapped a fish in foil, and mailed it to me. I think I still have all the hate mail in my parents attic. Hoo boy…you should see the words they called me.
I started breaking out (as in, acne) when I was 10 years old. When I moved to Oklahoma, the two “best friends” I made in 7th grade knew I was sensitive to this, and convinced me that using Bath & Body Works Country Apple body lotion on my face would clear up my breakouts. And yes, they knew what they were doing.
Somehow, in the middle of 7th grade, I was lucky enough to become the girlfriend of the coooolest boy in school. We had been ‘going out’ for a week, when I had a sleepover with the two body lotion friends. In the middle of the night, they kicked me out of the room, locked the door, called the cute boy and broke up with him over the phone while I stood in the hallway begging them to stop. (He did not take me back.)
In 8th grade, I found a sweater in TJ Maxx from a high end store at the time. It was currently all the rage…all the cool girls had them. Mine wasn’t the right color scheme as all the other girls, but nevertheless, it was the right style and brand. I wore it once a week, and one day in art class, I told my best friend I wanted to be careful with the paint because I didn’t want to get it on my shirt. She replied, “Why, because that’s the only nice thing you own?”
The list goes on and on…but I write these things to tell you youngsters this: I know it’s not easy. You’re walking through some of the meanest years of your life right now. And no amount of hearing my stories, or your mom and dad’s stories, or anyone’s stories, for that matter, may ease the hurt you feel on a daily basis. But I will say this…I think the kids who struggle the most through those years end up being the best adults. And, hopefully, you’re learning a very important lesson right now on how NOT to treat others. Try simply being consistently kind to everyone you see…resist bitterness…and know that you have a lot of former rejects cheering for you. Me first and foremost.