What I Learned From High School, Rumors, And Mean Girls


You know what I realized? All the friends I could’ve made but couldn’t. Not for lack of trying, but due to the efforts of others who have contributed to my own toxicity.

When I was a freshman in high school, there was a nice girl in my class I wanted to be friends with. One afternoon I happened to walk home with her big sister who told me, “She said that ***** told her you backstabbed her and that you’re a mean person. She’s angry at you and doesn’t want to talk to you.” Needless to say her big sister didn’t want to have anything to do with me after this.

Countless times through the course of my life I would hear the same from people I don’t talk to anymore but still have on my Facebook, or even from people I have become very good friends with – “To be honest, Sade, I’m surprised you’re nice. People told me not to be friends with you because they think you’re a bad, crazy person” as if this were some sort of half-assed apology, as if this were some way of saying “Yo, I see the rumors are wrong. You now have my approval.” Different people, different time, same old story.

For awhile my mind grappled with that: how many people I could’ve befriended, how many reunion parties I could’ve enjoyed with them, how many people hated my guts because they were lied to and made to believe I had done something wrong to them. Seriously there were people I didn’t know, never met, never interacted with who would bully me or yell at me or be pissed at me because they were misled by some petty girls that I had backstabbed them. They probably still believe the fabricated drama to this day.

But whatever, you know. I didn’t get any answers on why what happened had to happen or a resolution to the conflict they caused, so I made my own closure with that. Besides, it’s not my god damn fault if a person prefers to listen to drama or high school mean girls before getting to know me as a person.

I often mused at how much of a waste my youth has been in terms of finding and establishing lifetime friendships. It’s not a waste for me anymore. Growing up meant gaining a lot of enemies, losing a lot of friends, missing a lot of opportunities to build relationships because vicious gossip constantly swirled above my head. I used to think I was the problem until I forced myself to become an adult, took responsibility for my own shit, and accepted I shouldn’t be a ping-pong board for other people’s insecurities.

These days I keep in touch with a lot of people I never even talked to in high school (mostly of usual disinterest, different social circles, and gap in age) and am still friends with people who’ve heard the nastiest crap about me true and untrue BUT have the loveliness of heart to choose to befriend me despite it. And honestly? They’re the best, no exaggeration, despite the lack of Facebook selfies we post.

And these days most of my, for lack of a better term, ex-bullies are trying to act friendly with me whilst casually liking my social media posts despite having before made my life hell. And though I act friendly back like nothing ever happened – I’VE SEEN HOW UGLY PEOPLE’S HEARTS CAN BE AND I REMEMBER.

I’m at peace with it, but I don’t forget, especially when mostly no apologies were given. I have learned to accept sorrys unsaid, let go of apologies that came years too late, and not begrudge life for circumstances undeserved. (Besides… karma always does its reprisal.)

Because other people’s actions are never really about you. To quote:

“We must not allow other people’s limited perceptions to define us.”Virginia Satir

If people dislike you based on their own need to dislike other people, it is not your responsibility to change their mind. If they are too proud to extend their hand or voice their remorse, then you have further proof you deserve better. People should be humble enough to own up to that, to own up to their personal failings and misconceptions.

And to anyone going through the same, remember:

There are people who will love you that you have not met yet.

The most agonizing yet insightful understanding I forced myself to see is that sometimes things just happen. No reason, no explanation, no divine destiny rubbish on “There is a purpose for this, trust in God’s plan.” Sometimes people are just shitty, the world just sucks, and so the course of your life changes to a more rocky path.

When someone torments you that person is not a life lesson in disguise – they’re simply mean. When they purposely make you miserable it is not because you need the experience in order to attain a greater understanding of life. There are things you can learn without you having to experience pain.

As for my story?

Well I kept minding my business, adapting to live lugging anxiety and trauma. The girl I wanted to befriend is still not my friend, but we smile at each other now. Plus over the years I eventually received, so far, three unexpected messages from different individuals imploring for forgiveness. If you get one you are under no obligation to extend pardon. Do whatever you think is best for you. Do not hold onto anger, but also do not forget those who hurt you for shits and giggles. Never again allow them the satisfaction of affecting you.

“No one will ever accept anything. I think the goal is to not want anyone’s acceptance.” – Nicki Minaj

Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Filipina mermaid. Author of WAR SONGS and Coffee & Cigarettes.

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