We spent all day planning for my party. It was going to be the first time I had my new, popular friends over to my house since joining the dance team. I was dating a football player, my best friend and I had sleepovers filled with make-up and junk food for fun and I was finally with the In Crowd. Or so I thought.
When the time for the party came and went and only three of the numerous friends I invited arrived, I realized that rainy weather on the day of my Luau themed party was not my biggest problem. Out of the three guests, only one came as a legitimate friend, kind of. Clint wanted to date me so he came hoping to get in my good graces. The other two guests looked very forlorn and regretful for the majority of the time and only came because they thought they would be attending a swinging party with all the “cool” kids. However, their attempt to gain leverage in the vicious waters of high-school social politics was thwarted.
I attempted to be a good host and tried to make sure my guests had a good time, but I was destroyed. My boyfriend and best friend couldn’t even manage to attend. Why was this happening to me? As soon as my pitiful party ended I retreated to my room to lick my wounds and to mentally prepare myself for the horrors awaiting me at school on Monday.
Monday came. My first class of the day was Geometry and four of the ringleaders of my former friend group sat at a table together. Not being one for confrontation but too upset to speak. I played the “I’m not looking at you.” card. My seat was in front of the group and as soon as I sat I heard the Queen Bee, Emily, whisper loud enough for me and everyone in the room to hear, “Did anyone go to Rachel’s party”. A round of no’s and then a cacophony of giggles erupted from the table. It had been decided. I was out. The new girl (I can’t even remember her name.) was in and had replaced me. I was replaceable.
I told myself that I never really fit in anyway. That it was better this way. I didn’t need friends like that. But, no matter how strong you are, it hurts to be laughed at and made a fool.
Luckily, this all occurred at the end of the school year. Summer arrived and I vowed to cut all ties with those people. I did mail Elizabeth a very heartfelt letter hoping that we could reconcile. That never happened. In fact, I learned later that she had laughingly read my very personal letter to everyone at a party. It was a big hit. I did manage to form a cobbled group of somewhat friends and didn’t have too lonely or tragic an experience for my next three years. But, I never fit in. I saw those girls, had classes with them and heard their whispered conversations of parties that I would never attend. I saw Elizabeth in the halls but we did not interact. I longed for the day when high school would end and I could be free from Emily and all of the mean girls.
The waiting finally ended on an extremely hot day in August. Move-in day was chaotic but exciting. The number of girls moving into the freshman dorm greatly outnumbered the elevators so, my family and I lugged all of my belongings up 10 flights of stairs to my new room. But, it was worth it. College was a blissful time where the mean girls were too busy with their sorority functions and fraternity beaus to mess with me. Yes, they still existed and if not careful it was easy to fall prey to their insanity but, I managed to steer clear for the majority of my college experience. I became a resident assistant. Finally finding a home with my fellow R.A.’s and met my forever best friend, Danielle, as well as my husband. I felt like I belonged. However, when college ended. So too did my sense of belonging.
I managed to find a teaching job before I had even graduated. I was excited and couldn’t wait to begin the next chapter of my life! It didn’t take me more than a few days of professional development training and teacher lunches to see that I had most definitely returned to high school. The mean girls thrived not only within the student body but even more so within the teacher ranks. By my third year, tired of hearing the incessant negative discussion of students, gossip about Dancing with the Stars and essentially being ignored and snubbed in regards to friendship, I quit trying to board the teacher friendship train. I’m now finishing up my 9th year as a teacher. I enjoy my quiet solitary lunches. I have accepted this is my work life and I’m ok with that. I’ve had my fill of mean girls.
No matter who you are, if you are a woman, or even a man for that matter, you have encountered a few so-called “mean girls” in your life. Even though they caused me a great deal of pain, I know that I would not be the person I am today without those experiences. They taught me lessons about the true nature of people and their motivations for their actions. They taught me to be true to myself and gave me the ability to better understand who I am and what I want. When my students ask me about how high school was for me I feel good being able to say that I didn’t quite fit in but that I’m ok. I tell them that yes, mean girls exist and yes, you will encounter them throughout your entire life. But, know who you are and embrace that person and you will find the people that can become your forever friends. Even though I avoid all contact with the teacher “mean girls” I do encounter the teenage ones. But, I know who I am and they can’t scare me. Besides, I can give them detention now.
About the author: Rachel Johnson is a mother of two, high school Spanish teacher and part-time blogger who loves crafting, creating fun and engaging activities for her children and students and hanging with her friends and family. She blogs about what she’s doing and her interests at any given time which vary. She’s a little OCD and always looking for her next project. Her husband calls it, “focusing her crazy”, but she just calls it fun. You can find her at www.paintcoveredkids.com and on social media on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram @paintcoveredkids or on Twitter @paintcoveredkid.