There’s a good blog online called Real Live Preacher at http://blogs.salon.com/0001772/. I learned about it from brother David. I don’t read it as regularly as some, but it’s worth visiting when you’ve got some extra time on your hands. And today’s entry tweaked my memory.
Along about 9th grade I believe it was, a girls’ war broke out in our class. I don’t know why, but teenaged girls sometimes go through a particularly hateful spell when they decide to gang up on a single member of their number and make that poor one’s life miserable. This is called fun. Unless, like I was, you’re that one girl singled out.
What was really odd about this particular period of my life is that we had all been together for many years. Our class was very small and there were only eleven girls. We had grown up together and been friends through thick and thin. It wasn’t like the townies ganging up on the new kid in town.
What it boiled down to, I guess, was a power struggle. I was a straight A student, got along with all my teachers, and got along with most of the boys. (I was a late bloomer in the romance department, so I really wasn’t interested in anything more than friendship from the boys at that stage. Remember this was in the 60s.) I had been the new kid in town at one point, since I moved there in the 4th grade, but had made a place for myself at the head of my class. And therein was the possible problem. The girl who suddenly got it in for me had been the “smart girl” before I came on the scene. She was more aware of the approaching need to make romantic liaisons with the few available boys. And she considered herself to have an edge in all matters of teenage politics because she was a home grown gal.
Well, stupid me, I was totally oblivious to the political jockeying that was going on with the females. I had a couple of goals. Get good grades and keep out of trouble. Ultimately, I knew I would be heading off to college and I had no desire to get into romantic entanglements that could possibly interfere with my future. So I didn’t care at all about the budding competition for the local boys.
But I guess it was my self-confidence that really caused trouble. I pretty much knew who I was and, though something of a social misfit, was comfortable in my role as serious student. I also did not bow to peer pressure and learned early to have my own opinions, regardless of the crowd’s viewpoint. So I generally spoke my mind and moved to the beat of my own drum.
Not a way to get along with other teenaged girls. The leader wannabe didn’t care for my independent ways. Or my ability to cut through the crap and point out logical answers, especially if it went against her line of thought. One day I called her on her bossiness in front of our classmates. Thus began the orchestrated freeze-out that lasted the rest of the school year.
She quickly recruited seven of the girls to support her in her cause. From October through May, I was seldom spoken to by any of them and was frequently subjected to cutting remarks made behind my back but just within my hearing. It was a tough year. No teenager likes to be treated like the class pariah for no good reason.
But, thankfully, two of the girls refused to play the game and proved themselves real friends. They paid a certain price for sticking up for me, but we gave each other support and quality friendship which made up for a lot. And, the boys were either unaware of the situation or were ignoring it. They never took their friendship away from me. And, of course, the teachers were always kind and friendly to a good student. I limped through the school year, bruised but not disabled.
Summer vacation came and went and the next year things went back to normal. Either the girls had given up on breaking me, were tired of the game, or they had matured a little. I had shown I was able to take whatever they dished out. Friendly relations resumed and nobody mentioned it again. Oddly enough, the girl who started the whole thing became a good friend of mine for the rest of our high school years.
I’ve never been one for close girlfriends. Somewhere in the back of my mind is still harbored the distrust that was bred by my fellow females that year. I learned that females can be fickle. I learned that a real friend will stand by you even when pressured by society to turn her back on you. I learned to be satisfied with a few quality friends over the shallow friendship of a crowd.
I was lucky. I had enough inner strength to stand my ground and figuratively spit in their eyes. But there’s a lot a kids out there that get similar and worse treatment by their peers and don’t have that inner strength to get them through. Some never recover. They spend their lives in quiet desperation or suffering abusive relationships because they don’t think they’re good enough to demand better treatment. And a few snap and make the evening news when they decide to spray their school with bullets.
So what’s the point? Someone feels a need to be superior and can’t get it any other way than to make others feel inferior. Stupid, stupid, stupid. What they prove is how truly inferior they are themselves. Unfortunately nobody wins.