Let’s Be Honest – Entangled in a Mess
I have never known where I fit into a group. Ever.
My elementary school years were a gong show. I spent my youngest years in desperate torment trying to find friends to play with, watching from the outskirts and wondering how the other girls seemed to have it so easy. Once, in grade six, the coolest girl in our class slipped me a handwritten note. I was thrilled; my hands were shaking so hard from excitement that I could barely open it. Inside, she had written (in tiny, perfect block letters) a full page of reasons why I was weird, and why the other kids did not like me. She ended the note by reminding me that the note itself was more of a PSA to me, and not a “friend thing”. She even used quotations over “friend thing”, just to drive it home that we were not friends.
Enter high school. This time, I was prepared and ready for change. The summer before grade nine began, I got my eyebrows waxed (so long, unibrow!). I got my braces off. I religiously studied Teen, Seventeen and Teen Vouge. When I got to school, I quickly looked for who the popular girls were and tried to inch in on them. The problem there was as it had been earlier – I didn’t fit in. I wasn’t quite good enough there, either. I was always trying ten times as hard to get one tenth of the results.
In grade 10, when everyone was going to the coolest girl’s cottage for the May long weekend, I waited for my invitation. When it didn’t come, I asked for it and got told that there wasn’t enough room for me. One day in science class, I was hanging around her desk, trying my hardest to impress her. She gave me a steel-like smile, and in front of the other girls said, “You could pop that zit on your face, you know. It’s disgusting.” I acted just as disgusted at my own face and its audacity to have a pimple in my teenage years and tried harder to not ever gross her out like that again. I yearned for the acceptance of that crowd, I was starving for it. It was a toxic cycle. It brought out the utter asshole in me (not too hard to find, given my spiritual enlightenment at the time), and it fed into the bullying dynamic of the group overall. I joined in with the meanness, laughing and sneering. At times, I led it. Gossip, cruelty and conflict seemed to bond my group together. I hated it, but I didn’t know how to exist any other way.
Eventually, I grew up, moved on and made new circles of friends that talked about things like the patriarchy, world travel, what Meat Loaf wouldn’t do for love, and spoke about each other behind our backs only out of genuine concern. This was a whole new world for me and one I wanted to be a part of forever more. Do you know what? It took time to get the gossip girl out of my blood. Do you know what else? I have to work diligently, sometimes daily, at maintaining a practice of integrity to myself that I will not, under any circumstance, let myself become entangled in that mess again.
A year or so ago, I realized that I was in a circle that was compromising my values and calling for my inner asshole to come out and play. I had to exit myself, with forever love, because I don’t want to ever go down that path again and nothing – nothing – is worth compromising who I say I am with who I act like I am. My sisters, we have been pit against each other for so long, with the patriarchy so deeply embedded in our veins, that we have to remind ourselves and each other that true friendship is what happens when our sister gets up from the table to leave. We might not all belong in the same groups, but we do belong to each other.
May you be happy,