I never was one of the popular girls. I’m okay with that. I hate being in the limelight, being the center of attention. I’m much more happy being on the sidelines, watching but not feeling pressured to participate. I have always been like that. And I believe, I always will.
When we moved back to Canada from Italy, I was 8. I moved into a school of kids who had been together since the age of 5 – and with the added issue of re-learning the English language and adjusting to the Canadian school system.
I was way ahead of my class – I already knew the timetables, how to do division, how to read and write in two languages… Being a geek never makes you popular.
I loved to read – I’d spend recesses huddled in the corner of the library, reading book after book… Being a nerd never makes you popular.
I was shy – Speaking to people would make me break out in a cold sweat, I’d be terrified to join in on conversations… Being shy never makes you popular.
Eventually I developed a close circle of friends. True, there was only 3 or 4 of us. True, I probably was the odd one out. But, they were friends. They were people to hang out with at recess and lunch. They were people who knew that I was shy and not aloof. I was happy.
When high school came around, I was still there – still with the same group of close friends – and better at branching off and meeting new people. But, I always sat and ate lunch with the same people. It was what made me happy. What made the maze of high school easy to bear – and it lasted for about six months.
Then everything changed. A new girl I had befriended at the beginning of the year, had started spreading rumors about me. She had told my friends that I had been talking bad about them behind their backs. And for some reason, they believed her. I was ostracized.
The popular girls took note. They attacked. I was bullied. Made fun of. They started their own rumors – that I was dating the ugliest and geekiest boy in our grade. They would tell him that I liked him – so he would follow me around – adding credit to their rumors. I hated it. I hated going to school. I would spend lunches sitting in the bathroom stall crying.
I hated the popular girls. It wasn’t enough that my own friends didn’t believe me – they were ruining my life.
We went to Italy for a few weeks during the school year, and when I came back, things were a little better. Some of my old friends realized how ridiculous it had been to believe the other girl and came back. I was more wary. I trusted very few people. I couldn’t wait for the year to be over.
The next year, we moved. I home-schooled for a year, because I couldn’t face the prospect of another set of ‘popular girls’. Eventually I went back to school – I survived. But, whenever I saw a group of girls standing close together, followed by their worshipping crowds, I would run in the opposite direction. I guess the damage had been done.
This post is inspired by prompt no. 1 – ‘The Popular Girls’ – at Mama Kat’s Losing It.