Have you ever had the feeling that someone was talking about you? You could never know for sure in that moment, right? Unless someone came out and told you. You might hear whispers, see fingers pointed in your direction, or notice eyes on you that look away nonchalantly when you take notice. You wonder if you’re paranoid or if your suspicions are true. You play it over in your head a million times ironing out every little detail. You think “Well, it could have been the person next to me. Maybe they were pointing at the old wall behind me.” You go back and forth a hundred times not knowing if you are right to believe what you believe or not.
It’s tough to be a girl in middle school. Everyone starts to overanalyze who their friends should be. Everyone starts to rule out tiny flaws in people and deem them as unworthy of a friendship. If you had glasses, braces, or frizzy hair you were considered to be weird and people stayed away from you. It is a little intimidating not to know where you stand with your friends and that they can cast you aside at any moment and replace you with some flawless looking person. It was always about the looks which were based on how a person dressed and his/her hairstyle.
In 5th grade, I started to fall out with my friends who were labeled as the “preppy, popular girls.” As they changed, I started to become pretty intimidated by the clothes they wore which were always name brand, and the attitudes they carried, which were always snobby. I became very quiet, not wanting to say one wrong thing after saying a couple of wrong things and getting weird looks from these girls. I just totally shut down, and kept to myself. For a week straight, I didn’t say one word in a conversation, thinking that “if I don’t talk, I can’t mess things up.” After a couple weeks of saying little to nothing at every lunch break we had they began to act as though I wasn’t even there, rather than asking if there was something wrong. I became totally ignored, as I awkwardly sat with these girls where I clearly did not belong.
One day, something really big happened. It’s the kind of thing that you might brush off if you’re grown up, but in middle school, this “something” was pretty overwhelming to me. I sat down with these girls and remained quiet for another time before classes started one morning. We all wait outside the halls talking before classes starts in the same spots we had sat in each day that school year. It’s about a 20 minute wait. During this time the usual things happened. I remained pretty quiet again and no one noticed that I was there. Finally one of the girls said “Does anyone like Kristen?” and one of the girls said “Oh, I don’t know.” One girl remained silent. One girl said “No, I don’t think so” and the girl who asked the question said “Oh, well, me neither.”
There was probably never another moment in my life where I felt as small and insignificant as in that moment. I wonder what someone gets out of that kind of torture. If something like that happened to me now I would have confronted the person or turned to the good friends in my life. At that time these were the only people I knew and I felt trapped. I continued to sit with these girls for some reason, until one day I saw an old friend of mine that I hadn’t talked to in at least a year and decided to sit with her at lunch. She thought that I was using her because I didn’t have a friend left to lean on. In reality, I did miss her and I wanted to reconnect. The following day, I didn’t want my old friend to think I was using her, so I tried to sit with the girls who had talked about me like I wasn’t there. I sat down and one of them said “Why are you sitting here?” I got up and walked away…..crushed.
Once in a while this series of events still runs through my mind. I think “where did I go wrong?” The answer, is that I did nothing wrong. I was just a kid trying to fit in with the wrong people. What they didn’t realize is that stuff like this stays with a person for a very long time. I feel as though this series of events has caused there to be some small, eternal source of doubt or insecurity about myself deep down inside. I am an incredibly confident person, don’t get me wrong, but this thing just won’t let go sometimes. If it had happened much later on in my life, I would have been upset, but not as influenced by it. As a kid, things tend to sink in a little more. The thing to remember is that no matter what has happened to you, someone else has gone through it, and someone else has gone through worse. No one is alone.