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in retrospect, it wasn’t like Mean Girls at all

June 2, 2011

I remember being a high school freshman and meeting all these interesting people in the choir with me. They were quirky in a way I deeply admired.  They listened to the Beatles, watched Saturday Night Live, and were *gasp* vegetarian. I’d never met anyone like them. I compared these girls to the girls on the pom squad with me… blonde girls with boyfriends and fancy lip gloss. I felt so awkward.

When I was a pom, very few of the girls were my friends. I spent most of my time with the other freshman who took honors classes. But mostly, I wanted to be friends with the older choir girls. I recognized them as authentic, years before being authentic became my credo.

I quit dance. The high school years went on and I found myself with some fascinating friends… we had Chinese takeout in parks, dressed up in vintage dresses and sang barbershop quartets, played Disney tunes on bottles filled with water.  We traveled to choir competitions, theatre competitions, weekends at Lake Michigan.  They taught me the joys of Goodwill, the fabulousness of Jones Soda, and how not to drink peach Schnapps.

And, as awful as high school was, with its rumor mill, its crazy evangelicals, and a shit load of dramatics that seem made for an ABC Family original series… I learned a lot about myself. I mean, yes, I look back and only see scenes from Mean Girls on the surface, but there are moments when I realize without those friends, I would not be who I am. I am grateful for all those Madrigal dinners, cast parties, girls nights at Papa Vino’s, and outrageous games of Honey, I Love You.

I admired their quirky authenticity and their funky idiosyncrasies. And then one day I looked in the mirror and realized I embody exactly that which I had once admired.

So, though it’s likely you’ll never see this, thank you Abbey, Emmy, Erin, Kat, Caitlin, Abby, and Cassie. You taught me how to be me.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 2, 2011 10:13 am

    Love this post. I really, really enjoyed high school, but… well, I don’t really have friends from high school anymore. At some point, mine decided I was not authentic enough – to be fair, I was going through some serious mental illness & was lying up a storm & being awful – and so they stopped being friends with me. Though they can recognize & respect that I’m better/different now, things have never been the same, & that’s one of my biggest regrets, I think. I’m so glad you’re able to look past the “Mean Girls” memories & recognize the value of your high school experience.

  2. June 2, 2011 11:38 am

    I’m still best friends with my high school friends today, and it’s amazing to look back and see how those girls paved the way for my friendships today. It was such a treasure to have a safe haven where I could be intelligent and emotional and myself without judgment in a world where judgment was so prevalent. Teaching high school now, I watch some students try and fit in where they don’t belong and it takes all my strength not to pull them aside and direct them towards friendships that are more authentic with the kids I feel like really “get it.” I just hope that they’ll find their people someday, you know?

    • June 21, 2011 7:09 pm

      Gaahhh I always though it’d be the toughest thing in the world to be a high school teacher. Not only there the challenge of academics, but I’d always want to ‘fix’ my kids’ lives. Looking back I think “Gee, Mr/Ms. so-and-so must have thought I was an IDIOT!”

  3. June 21, 2011 7:07 pm

    This makes me pretty jealous of your high school story 😀 I always think of genuine friendships in highschool as a very rare thing. I had a tough time getting over myself before I could genuinely make friends with other people.

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