Yep, that phone call kicked up a few things for me.
Fucking high school. Was there anyone who really felt like they fit in?
I went to the public school in my town until I was in 8th grade. Then I went to my all-girls high school in another town, which was a 45-minute train ride away.
My parents were friends with a whole different crowd, most of whom belonged to the same country club as we did. Those were the people with whom we hung on weekends, family gatherings, vacations.
There was some overlap between the groups, but not much – at all. My friends with whom I had grown up all went to school together. I no longer did.
The gals from high school…part of what added to the fish out of water feeling was the fact that I other friends, in other places. I wasn’t totally immersed in the friendships from school.
And my parents’ friends’ children? Most of them went to boarding school, so I didn’t quite fit in there either.
Between all of these groups of kids, I never felt like I totally belonged to one because I always had a foot in another.
Some might say that it was great that I had so many friends and such a diverse group at that, but that’s not how it felt.
What it felt like was that I was always scrambling to find my place, a place where I didn’t feel like a bit of an outsider. And I never quite got there.
Now, let’s add a bit of bullying.
There was a gal named Camilla who, in our younger years, wanted nothing to do with me because I went to public school.
No shit. She taunted me relentlessly during tennis lessons and wouldn’t hit the ball to me (unless it was AT me) claiming that I shouldn’t be there, that I should just go back to my public school friends.
In school in my town, 8th grade, there were a few girls who I thought were friends who turned on many of us behind our backs, producing one of these:
In our version, I was raked over the coals because I didn’t like wearing the color red. For real – that was the problem with me.
I still don’t wear red.
In high school, because of…
(I honestly have no idea…)
…Janet C. hated me and was determined to make my life miserable. We’d known each other a bit since we were little, (certainly not well enough for her to detest me like she did) but starting on day one, freshman year, she made it her mission to make me feel like shit.
Which I did.
She put old food in my locker. Put signs up on the windows of our classroom doors, ridiculing me, while I was trapped inside learning that a+b=c. She called me sluglips.
Even after she left our school and went elsewhere, she still pursued her prey. Then, we ended up in college together and she continued her bullshit.
And I continued to let it bother me.
I moved west. I still floundered my way through friendships and relationships.
Then I came to work at Outward Bound – prompted by one of the summertime, boarding school friends who I never imagined actually liked me. And now she wanted to work with me?
I remember sitting in a meeting with a bunch of other OB course directors – total misfits, totally weird people. I looked around at one point and thought, “I kind of belong here.”
It was a completely new and almost frightening feeling.
Now I live in this great little community and like I said yesterday, I feel like herein lies my tribe of rough and odd and funny and kind folks.
There was a great group of women with whom I raised my children – they are all still super connected – I distanced myself when I met MXB.
I was the girl who dropped her friends for a boy.
For a few years there, when I was with MXB, the much younger man, I hung out with a community of women – there were 6 of us – that felt like mine. In hindsight, just like in hindsight about every other friendship in my life, I realize that they too weren’t my tribe.
But I was SO excited to feel like I was “in.” That I actually had a group of friends to which I belonged. I got a little carried away, a bit over-enthused about being a posse. I was Lindsey Lohan with the Queen Bees.
And as soon as the breakup happened and I no longer had my link to this community, it fell apart around me and I was no longer one of them. I was, once again, on the outside looking in.
I need to stop here and say that there was one gal, one, who didn’t drop me like a hot potato. I will always be grateful for her.
I was so devastated during that period in my life – so crushed about the loss of community. But I realize now that it wasn’t as much about losing the individuals as it was about losing my (perceived) place in a group.
The loss of fitting in.
I felt like once again I had fooled myself into thinking that people liked me when in all actuality, they didn’t.
So every time I accused everyone of acting like they were in Middle School, I was the one who felt like I was still in Middle School, dealing with Camilla and Janet and the girls who wore red.
Crawling out of the black hole has forced me to re-examine every single relationship I have in my life. Friends, family, not-friends, long lost friends.
And people around here who I have always liked and admired,
and assumed that they too, didn’t necessarily want me around.
Well, I am learning that some people actually do like me. Some even want to hang out.
But more importantly, I am realizing that variety is the spice of life and that I am so very fortunate to have people from all different walks of life who are walking varied paths in my world. In my tribe.
I don’t have to be a part of a group. I don’t have to be a part of a “community” that is really just a clique.
Why would I want to limit myself like that?