In-Crowd

Hey guys! So if you have read any of this blog before, you know that it’s generally light-hearted and not really serious. However, what I’m going to write right now is something I feel is very important and is something I feel that I really should share with you all! I’m gonna be honest, this will probably be a really long post. But I think it will be very beneficial to myself and the readers for me to take my time in writing this.
The subject of this is resisting the urge to give in to what you know is wrong in order to not feel left out. Now, I know what you’re thinking: you’ve probably read posts about this before, heard about it in youth group, or your parents may have talked to you about it. The point is, it’s a pretty common subject, and I personally feel like I’ve heard about this and learned about it so many times that it has lost its “punch.” But what I’m hoping will be different about this particular post is that I’m going to leave my own experience here, leave ALL of it here, write down every little thought and emotion, and leave nothing out. Hopefully by the time this is finished and you have read the whole thing in its entirety, you will be prepared for what will undoubtedly come to you at some point in your life, and that you will feel very encouraged and really to take your own situation, however similar or unsimilar it may be, head-on!
I think the way I’m going to go about this is to just tell it like I’m telling you a story in person. Now before I start, know that every bit of this really happened, and since that’s so, I’m not going to apologize for posting it. If the people involved in this story read this, they will be the only ones who know it’s them. I’m not going to use any of the real names but since this is going on I have the right to share it if I want. And I do want. This is actually going to lay some background starting from pretty far back, but it’s necessary to tell it in order to understand all that’s to follow. Some of it (especially the beginning) will seem like it has nothing to do with the before-mentioned theme, but it ties in later.
Let’s get started.
In 7th grade, I took a computer class, and I knew nobody there. I took a seat by one of the only other girls in the class, and we instantly became friends. Heck, by the time the first class period was over, we had a sleepover planned! Me and _____\_____ had the sleepover and from then on, we were inseparable. There was nothing that we didn’t do together! We were best friends and it seemed to me that we had known each other since the beginning of time. I could hardly even remember anything from before then, because I had no friends before this that were so real and sister-like. Everyday after school, we met halfway between our houses and did whatever random thing we decided to do. We didn’t even have to do anything but walk around- it didn’t really matter, cause we just liked spending time with each other doing nothing. We had all the inside jokes, you know- the classic “best friends” scenario. She came to church camp with me, and we attended chapel together every night of camp. We bonded so much in that one short week, and cried our heads off when it was over. At that time, it was absolutely IMPOSSIBLE for me to fathom that we would some day not be close. It wasn’t even a question. However, ever so slowly, I noticed things were changing. She would make a condescending comment to someone else, and say little things to others to make them feel bad about themselves. (Whether this was being done consciously or unconsciously, I don’t really know.) But either way, she was changing from her regular self. She became pretty rude actually, and seemed to not care what she was saying and how it would affect others. Then, she started treating me that way. It started out as just small things, and then progressively got worse. She would treat me badly in the presence of other kids. Remember that this was a long time ago, but she once said something to me that I have still not forgotten, and to be honest, I don’t think I will ever forget it. I worry about it from time to time even to this day. We were walking down the hall with one other boy, and she said something about this guy she had met the other day, and how she wanted to someday date this boy. Wanting to get in on the conversation, I said something about wanting to date someone like that too. She turned to me and said “Seriously? Haha!” She put on a voice to mock me. “Hi guys, my name’s Ellie! I’m really weird, I’m super awkward when I walk, and I have this really gross skin thingy! (eczema).” She continued to point out the “bad” things about me in my own voice. Then she looked at me and the boy who was with us and said, “Yeah, who’d wanna date that?” and her and the boy giggled and walked off without me. I turned around and walked back to class alone and cried. This was the same girl who I spent the past few years of my life doing EVERYTHING with. The same person who I was certain would never even think of treating me that way. Needless to say that after that, things continued downhill and we weren’t those same friends at all. It really, really sucked. I felt pretty stupid after all that, and I had little to no self esteem. I paid attention to how I walked, and it was a huge deal to get in front of the class to read a paper because I spent the whole time worrying that my awkward movements were in the spotlight. When she’d say things like that again, I would retaliate sometimes, and I always hated that I did it later. 8th grade ended, and we stopped talking. (If you’re ever reading this, know that I don’t hate you or anything for any of that. I know things weren’t too great for you then. But I’m still writing it because it did happen, and it plays a part in this story.)
This is where the story really begins.
Summer ended and Freshman year began. I remember that the main thing on my mind was “Who am I going to sit with at lunch? I can’t sit alone, and I don’t really know anyone else.” So I compared schedules with other people and found a girl with the same lunch hour as me, and we sat together. Our friendship started very much the same as the previously mentioned one. We didn’t know each other at all, but something just clicked. We too were inseparable, and I was SO thankful to have such a good friend again. Now in order for you to understand later why I felt/feel the way I did/do, it’s necessary to, again, explain the friendship. It was very similar. Maybe that’s why I was so eager to get in on it. Every day consisted of waking up, texting _________ something really random and hilarious (if I do say so myself,) meeting each other on the bus, and chatting it up about whatever had happened the day before. Then we’d get to class, half-heartedly pay attention to what was going on, and pass notes with code names in order that all our “important”‘messages be unreadable but to our eyes only. Passing period arrived, and we’d walk each other to the “exit point” where we’d both go our separate ways, and then meet up at lunch later and catch up and laugh for an hour about all the nothingness that happened in the small amount of time we were apart. We’d write more notes, sometimes many pages long, and brush pass them to each other at the next passing period, and then laugh all the way home on the bus. There was rarely a day that we didn’t spend after school at each other’s houses being idiots. Everything we did, we did together. We slept over every weekend, and always had SO much fun doing random, pointless things because again, we just enjoyed each other’s company. Maybe I shouldn’t be writing this part, but she even taught me how to drive! Every time we got free days from school, Mom took us to the mall and we pushed each other around in carts from Macy’s and spent all our money on weird things like yellow lip gloss (what?) and food like Aunt Annie’s pretzels. The things that were really important to us we had in common. We both believed in God and attended church, and I remember that one day a kid was questioning us about the existence of God and she had what seemed like ALL the answers. She answered passionately and believed one hundred percent in what she was saying. What I’m getting at is that we were practically sisters, and it was awesome.
(Time jump to recently.)
This is where we start to see what this post is really about. _________ made a new friend over the summer of her sophomore year. I didn’t really know much about her at first except that she was a grade above us and her name was _-_-_-_-_. I didn’t worry about it. Why would I? A new friend is a new friend! But what I didn’t know was, well… anything else about her. It turns out that this new friend was NOT someone that I would ever want to get really close to, and I could hardly believe that she was someone _________ would want to get close to. I don’t agree with underage drinking, getting drunk, being foul-mouthed, or being in-general rude, but this new friend of _________’s did all four. Every weekend was a party, and I don’t mean the kind where you have cake and ice cream and sing “Happy Birthday.” She started inviting my friend to these parties, and she began really drinking as well. This is something I never would have believed before. Me and ________ were still really good friends, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary on OUR side of the friendship, even though I did not agree with the drinking. We’d still spend lots of time together, and it was still a solid friendship. When Junior year started, we again were faced with the “Where to sit at lunch?” predicament. I didn’t think I really cared where, but ________ suggested we sit with -_-_-_-_-_-_ and her group of friends this year. I sort of dreaded that, because I knew what they were like, but I tried to be open minded about it. It’s not like where you sit in the school cafeteria is some life-changing decision. When we sat down, however, the conversation immediately began with talk of when the next party would take place, who was all coming, who they didn’t want coming, who was being a real b**** that day, etc. etc. I knew from that first day that this was not something I wanted to be a part of. After all, I had always known and been raised to know that I was going to be a good example and not be swayed by what was going on in the “in crowd,” and clearly being rude and crude and drunk is what’s on the “in crowd” at my high school. (And most public high schools today, if we’re honest.) Luckily, the next day, two of my friends from last year asked for me and _________ to sit with them. I gladly accepted, but _________ wasn’t too sure at first. She did sit with us, though, and I thought that maybe she would get out of that other group before she got too far in. But after a few days of her sitting with us, -_-_-_-_-_ came right on over to our table and said to __________, with all of us sitting right there, “What are you doing with these guys? Think about it- would you rather sit here with them, or with all of us cool Seniors?” I know that sounds like a cliché thing for someone to say, but she said it just like that. First of all, I would hardly classify that group as the “cool” Seniors, but nonetheless, __________ was drawn in and got up, left me and our friends, and went to sit with the group of “in-crowders.” After that, it became her permanent spot, and I grew increasingly worried that she would fall into that trap.
The weeks passed, and it was becoming more and more clear that _________ wanted less to do with me, and more to do with _-_-_-_-_ and her posse. Since the first day of the school year, we hadn’t gotten together outside of school once, as she was always busy doing some kind of “cool” thing with -_-_-_-_-. She had made hardly any effort to talk to me during the one hour we have a day for break, either. Things started coming out of her mouth that were so rude and strewn with profanity that I could hardly believe it. And during all that time, the only thing that was going through my head was that I didn’t want to lose her friendship like I lost ____\____’s. Up until this point I hadn’t mentioned it to her, mostly because I was unsure of what her reaction would be. Would she think I was “accusing” her of something and get mad? Yes, I was afraid she would think that, but what I was even more afraid of was that she would assure me nothing was wrong. If she were to tell me that, it would mean that she literally didn’t see anything changing about her, and if that were true, I thought there’d be nothing I could do. I held in all my worries, and didn’t say anything about it. Then one day before the bell rang, I decided to give it a whirl. “Hey, ________?” I tried to ask casually. “Wanna come over this weekend? It’s been since the beginning of the year that we did anything together, and I’m free on Saturday!” She turned to me and said matter-of-factly, “Can’t. I’m going to be with _-_-_-_-_.” and then said nothing more about it. That was the day that I first got really upset and anxious. I didn’t say anything back to her, but was worried about the whole situation the entire day. I remembered all my other small friendships leading up to 7th grade, and I thought about my failed friendship with ____\____, and I thought about what was happening at the present, and I thought I saw a pattern forming. “The common denominator isn’t any of them,” I thought to myself. “It’s you.” I quickly tried to brush this feeling off, and I reminded myself of how irrational it was- and it was irrational. But I spent the rest of the day thinking about it. My misguided reasoning told me, “You’re just boring, that’s the problem. Why do you think people like you for a while and then decide they don’t anymore? It’s because you won’t do anything ‘fun.’ If you would have a little more fun and do some more things then maybe people won’t get bored of you.”
When I got home that day, I just started crying. I cried because I was afraid of what ________ was becoming due to her new friends, I cried because I was convinced I was no fun to be around, I cried because I thought _________ didn’t like me anymore, and I cried because I hated that I was too afraid to tell her all this.
That was the first day in a long month of days that I felt this way. I kept it in and acted normal (for the most part) while I was at school, but it became so exhausting trying to do so that I cried and fell asleep the minute I got home. I kept this routine for an entire week- the crying and sleeping routine. On some of those days, I would think that that would be the day things would change, because _________ would voluntarily chat with me or voluntarily decide to sit with me at lunch. But the days that she chatted with me, she would call others over to chat too, and they’d all make weekend party plans right in front of me. And the days she “voluntarily” sat with me at lunch, I’d find out that it was because _-_-_-_-_-_ was absent and she just needed a backup friend. And those were the days that I came home and cried so hard that I was left with a migraine and empty tear ducts. I was so scared and upset that I would be dropped again, just like I was before, that I asked my mom to get me some natural mood enhancers. I thought that if I could have that, I would make it through the day in a good mood and feel less upset all day about everything. I didn’t get them.
Then I decided again to take the bull by the horns. I told her that it had been weeks and weeks since she’d made any effort at all to meet with me. I asked her to not make any plans for that weekend, and she said she wouldn’t. So that weekend, _________and our mutual friend _____|______ who was also a part of the _-_-_-_-_- clan spent the evening in town and got food, drove around, talked; it was awesome! I was sure this time that things would turn around. Nighttime came, and we were on our way back to __________’s house for the night. I started to drift off happily in the back seat, but _____|_____ turned around and said, “Don’t you dare fall asleep back there. The only reason we did all this is because you asked us to, and if you fall asleep now it would be for nothing.” _________ didn’t say anything, but just nodded in agreeance. Again, I felt that terrible feeling of being unwanted and unworthy of friends. When I was at that point, I started to entertain the idea of going out and doing the parties and things with her. At least I’d be spending time with her again, and she might decide I’m worth hanging out with after all. I got to school and declared that the next party she went to, I wanted her to take me with her. She was reluctant, I couldn’t tell how I felt about that at first. I was upset that she didn’t want to spend time with me even though I offered to come do the things I said I’d never do just so that I could. But then she said that okay, I should go. I almost went. I changed my mind though, and am very glad now that I did. I realized how absolutely ridiculous this all was. I thought to myself, “I shouldn’t have to compromise what I believe and what I want in order to get a sliver of time with my “friend,” and if she were my friend, she wouldn’t ask me to.” This was an epiphany of sorts. I had decided on that, and even though I had, it didn’t change the fact that I was still hurt and sad. My sister, my awesome sister, knew something was wrong, and she was the first person I told about all this. She listened to me and consoled me, and the next day I found a slip of paper folded up in my book. I took it out and read it. She had written verses down to let me know that how I was feeling was NOT going unnoticed. I felt alone, and unworthy, and unwanted, but none of that was true. I’m going to share one of the verses she wrote down for me. “You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in a bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; this I know, that God is for me! Psalm 73:23-24.” I’m not unworthy of being liked. God made me. I’m not unwanted. He loves me. I’m not alone. He’s with me. All these things and feelings were/are stacked against me, and yet that doesn’t really matter. I thought that even though I had the previously mentioned “epiphany,” I would still be upset about feeling unliked. “Everyone wants to be liked, epiphany or not,” I thought. And I mean, yeah, that’s sort of true. But it does NOT matter like you think it does at the time. If you ask God to take care of it, eventually you will stop caring if you’re well-liked by people or not. It doesn’t feel like it at the time, but you will. Whether it takes 10 minutes from then or 10 long years, you will eventually realize that what PEOPLE think doesn’t matter, and the weight will be lifted off. I don’t really know the ending to this story yet… I’ve told you everything so far. But now I’m not afraid of what the ending is. I mean, yes, I’d like to get my friend back and see her get back on track, but I don’t have to worry about it anymore. And it feels good.

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