Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Girl Rejected: The Hope Road Trip Part 1

Most days, the young girl sat alone at the edge of the grassy field. On occasion, some of the girls would allow her into their small circles of friends during the lunch recess, but only until the bell rang, summoning them to their afternoon classes. She knew she didn't really fit in anywhere, but desperate for friendship, she was willing to take what she could get.

Class was her safe haven. A refuge from the halls where other girls drifted to their friends lockers to catch up between classes, gossip and share the notes they received from 'that' boy. When the bell rang, she rushed to her locker to exchange the math book for her social studies book, and then slammed the locker door nearly running to the next class.

Lunch was even worse. Finding a table with room next to someone who was a remote acquaintance was all she could focus on. And then the dreaded lunch recess. Losers sat by themselves. And she knew she was one.

As long as she could remember, she was the chubby kid that others teased and poked fun of. And it was an extremely deep wound that she kept well hidden.

It was about this time that she befriended a few girls in her youth group that attended the same school as her. And they were in with the popular girls. Slowly, she began stopping by their lockers to chat, sat at the next-table-over from them at lunch and even attended a few of their birthday parties. But lunch recess was still off limits. You see, nobody got to hang out with the popular girls at recess unless they invited you in. And man, did she want to be invited.

The day came when one of the girls invited her to hang out with them at recess. She was excited and nervous but after lunch, walked out to the group of girls and joined in on the games, laughter and talk. It was one of the best school days ever.

That night at youth group, one of the girls took her aside and said, "Um, some of the girls were talking and they just said that you don't really fit in right now. But that maybe if you lost some weight you could hang out with us."


Last weekend, Jon and I spent the evening with a couple who are close friends of ours. In fact, one of them, I have known as far back as I can remember - we grew up together. We were talking about childhood wounds and I shared this story with them.

Wounds come in different forms. Teasing, abuse, a harsh word spoken out of anger by a parent, an insult, gossip, and the list goes on. For me, it was rejection. And the rejection I felt at that moment, coupled with the rejection of every other year spent in school would dictate how my life would play out for many years to come.


Helen said...

At first I thought you were describing my childhood. We all have wounds. I reconnected with a girl (woman now) I grew up with. She was picked on for her red hair, and hand me downs. If only the hurting kids knew how to find each other, and support one another. But I was so self absorbed, I didn't see her and her hurt.

Billy Coffey said...

What is it about school lunch that brings out the worst in people?

I remember one day in high school when a friend of mine walked by the "uncool" table and held up a sign in front of one of the kids sitting there so another friend could take a picture. What'd the sign say?


Twenty years later, I still think of that kid and wonder where he is.

sherri said...

Funny how these things stick with you all your life- kids have no idea....

I was teased about my freckles and red fuzzy hair (and flat chest)and I laughed along with them on the outside, but deep down is was creating lasting scars.
ALthough I FINALLY grew some boobs, and covered my freckles with make up, and straightened my fuzzy hair, I still feel like an ugly duckling deep down.

I tried to stress to my sons, while they were growing up , to NEVER be on the giving end of this type of harassment. Because the the effects are long lasting.

Good job Annie. Beautifully written.

katdish said...

We are all beautiful misfits, Annie. That's why we have such a connection.

Keep writing...It's beautiful.

Rebecca on The Homefront said...

Annie, that was an amazing post...and so heartbreaking. I was social misfit, but I honestly have no idea why unless it was just that I didn't wear name-brands. I wasn't picked on, just not included. It's amazing how those feelings come back after so many years, just by being exposed to yours.

I'm looking forward to Part 2...your "Hope Road Trip" is just awesome!

Warren Baldwin said...

I remember the high school cafeteria. I went to this high school for the first time as a junior, and the first couple of weeks were pretty tough until I found my table. I'm social, and wanted to move around and visit other places, but always lurking in the shadows of my mind was the fear, "What if they say, 'Get lost?'"

I'm finishing up Nicole Baart's book, "After the Leaves Fall." The teenage girl makes a point that if you are rejected for something other than your looks, it hurts even more, b/c it is not just a rejection of how you look but of who you are. (Great book!)

Good post. I've enjoyed my visit on 3 of your blogs. wb