Monday, December 6, 2010

Both Sides of the Fence

When you're a kid you think that once you grow up all the social hurdles, nerdy versus cool, smart versus stupid, pretty versus ugly work themselves out.  You believe that at some point we are all equal; that at some point the boxes we are placed in open up.  Unfortunately, "Mean Girls" don't always grow up into balanced human beings.  Sometimes they just stay mean and breed "Little Mean Girls."

I've been lucky to have been on both sides of the social fence in my life.  I've been the popular girl nominated for homecoming princess and the other girl who cut school to hangout at the beach and smoke cigarrettes.  I say lucky because at the time it felt terrible to be excluded from things because of something I liked or someone I may have been friends with.  In hindsight it is a priceless perspective I wouldn't have understood if I didn't see and feel it for myself.

When I was in high school there was a girl who was bullyied so severely she decided to graduate early.  She came from a nice family and was an older soul.  Her and I had know each other for the better part of our academic lives, but she was held back in grammar school and we didn't really have the same friends as the years went by, but we were always friendly. 

When she was a Junior and I a big Senior in high school the bullying began.  I don't even remember why, but I do remember thinking what they did to her was wrong and continued to be friendly with the underclassman.  I was pretty solid in high school and wasn't too afraid of much.  I thought I could take anything the mean crowd could dish at me...but as the mean comments and trash talking started getting thicker on me, I found it tougher to stand by this one person.  I eventually withdrew from this girl for no reason other than I just wanted the snarky comments to stop.  I folded and she knew it.

After this girl went off to college she began a new life.  She was happy.  During college she got sick with some virus which eventually spread through her body and she very unexpectedly died.  She was her mother's only daughter and the two of them were best friends.  I went to her service and her mom came up to me and said "Thank you for always being a friend to her...she said you were always kind to her."  Ugh...right in the heart...I knew I hadn't always been good to her.  I turned my back when I should've stayed strong and that is a choice I will always regret.

I know I was only 16 or 17 (I was a young Senior) when this all happened, but 18 years later I still think about her and I never forgot what her mom said to me.  Her birthday is on Christmas and every year I think about her and am reminded to be a better person.

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