Keeping to myself and low-profile was more my thing so I felt totally uncomfortable putting myself in that position.
Without a moment’s hesitation, Christa said three words to me, “Of course Marq!” followed by a smile.
My simple question led to a simple answer.
And that simple answer changed EVERYTHING.
Just like that, I became a full-fledged member of the “Popular Ones” without having a popular bone in my body.
I never told them what had happened with Amy and Theresa and they never asked.
I was sure that they were too busy enjoying each other’s company to even care and they were likely oblivious to Amy and Theresa’s hateful obssession with them anyways.
No more bathroom lunches. No more library visits on lunch period (unless I wanted to).
Recesses filled with joking around, dodgeball games or singing to the lyrics of Tainted Love and Jessie’s Girl , playing Truth or Dare where I would always pick a dare. I never neede to worry that I would get stuck with Amy or Theresa for a project because I had choices.
It was the best year ever. So amazing that instead of looking forward to getting out of elementary school, I didn’t want to end.
So what happened to Amy and Theresa?
The horrified and shocked looks on their faces as the weeks progressed when they realized that I was and would remain where they both secretly longed to be was worth it.
So, so worth it.
After all the previous years of hanging out with them, I made it a point to pretend that Amy and Theresa never existed.
After graduation, most of us went our separate ways and to separate high schools, except for Amy and Theresa who ended up in high school with me.
Strangely enough and with very short memories, they tried to befriend me again. Of course, I wasn’t stupid enough to forget how they had made me feel.
With a new beginning at a much bigger school, I took the opportunity to do things with a little less introversion with a variety of different kids.
Maybe it was karma but by the end of the 8th grade, it was clear to me that neither of them fit in. Amy transfered into a neighboring high school and Theresa ended up in an “alternative” high school (not for gifted children) in the city that she claimed she had asked to go.
Why am I grateful for being ghosted by Amy and Theresa?
They taught me that I could be resilient, how to strategize my way out of negative situations purposely created for me by others, how not to never let others disrespect me more than once and how to figure out what makes them tick – skills that have truly helped me in my professional life.
So yeah, I thank you Amy and Theresa. 🙂
Sidenote: I actually bumped into Amy about eight years after she transferred out of my high school and had myself a good ol’ chuckle. I was working on the weekends at a very trendy and popular sportsbar where famous local sports celebs would drop in and knew me by name (maybe a story for another time). Amy turned up with her family to have dinner on a busy hockey game night. She didn’t recognize me right away, but I refreshed her memory. The first words out of her mouth after total surprise was ‘Wow. You look great” as if it wasn’t possible. As celebs came and went being very familiar with me, I could see her staring increduously. To this day, I’ll never know if the wait for a table would have taken too long or if she couldn’t take that I was popular in that element.
To avoid eating alone in the cafeteria like a loser, my choices were limited.
My only option was to hide in a bathroom stall and scarf down my lunch sandwich as quickly as I could.
Yes, a bathroom stall.
And though it was clean, yes it was still GROSS but what choice did I have?
Well, eating a sandwich doesn’t take an entire lunch period so my next dilemma was what to do with the rest of my time.
The library was my refuge. Being around books always made me feel better and in this case, it definitely provided a little comfort. I just wished that I could have had my lunch there instead.
For an entire week, I avoided morning recess, ate in the bathroom, went to the library and avoided afternoon recess.
One. Entire. Week.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
But as the week dragged on, my sadness turned into anger and I realized two things – one, I couldn’t possibly keep this up for all of 6th grade and two, who in the hell did Amy and Theresa think they were being so mean when I had done something to them?
Funny how I remember this like it was yesterday.
I knew better than to say anything at home about this school drama so for the whole weekend, I ruminated and ruminated until I realized that little introverted me would have to do things differently if I wanted a different result. And if I could stick it to Amy and Theresa at the same time, it would be icing on the cake.
But how could I get them both back?
And that’s when I knew what to do.
Unlike Amy and Theresa, I had no jealousy towards the “popular ones”. As far as I was concerned, I knew that I could never be popular or even compete in that way so why be upset?
On Monday morning before students filed into the school, nervous and totally out of my comfort zoneorning, I approached Christa, one of the most popular girls, while she stood alongside all the rest of the ones in that popular group.
My question was simple and direct. “Would you mind if I hung out with you guys from now on?”
It’s not like I had anything to lose, right?
Christa looked me over from head to toe before she answered…
[In a past post, I said that I would share a story or two about a few negative experiences that I ended up being grateful for. This incident is the first one that came to mind.]
Alone is even lonelier when you are purposely ghosted by your supposed “friends”.
It was the very first day of the 6th grade and I was happy to get back into a school year even though things would feel different without Athena. Because of her father’s job, Athena’s family had moved overseas so my circle of three school friends would become a party of two – Amy and Theresa.
Amy and Theresa were usually nice enough girls but they spent most of their time badtalking who they had knicknamed the “Popular Ones” every chance they got.
It was clear that Amy and Theresa were extremely jealous of the Popular Ones while Athena and I couldn’t care less. We refused to pile on and stayed quiet when their ranting started.
The Popular Ones in our grade had never done anything to me so why would I agree with their jealous obsession? I knew that I could never be popular so there was no need to even be bothered when I basically felt invisible.
On that first day back, I was happy to get back into the swing of things. As soon as I spotted Theresa and Amy in the school yard, I ran up to them to ask how they had enjoyed their summer. Instead of smiles, I was greeted with simultaneous snickers and looks of disgust. Then, Theresa and Amy simply turned their backs on me and walked away laughing.
Just like that and out of the blue, I was persona non grata. Standing alone by myself in that school yard, I didn’t know why.
Throughout the entire morning, I found myself staring at them, almost fixated on the two of them since we sat in close proximity.
I hadn’t even seen them over the summer so I knew that I hadn’t done anything to make them mad enough to dismiss me.
But as the morning dragged on, my mind spun with questions…
With Athena gone, had they taken the opportunity to dump me since the power dynamic had shifted (in their favor) from two and two to two against one?
Was it because my immigrant parents didn’t allow me to do anything outside of school, like hang out at the mall or at their houses?
Or did they no longer want the only Black girl in the school in their entourage?
Even in the 6th grade, that is how my mind worked and by the time recess hit, I figured that my “ousting” was likely a combination of all of the above. It couldn’t have been anything else.
By recess, I dillydallied inside the building long enough to not find myself outside but my anxiety quickly began to creep to the surface.
What was I going to do at lunchtime in the cafeteria?
Sit by myself like a loser with the risk that Amy and Theresa would sit at a table close enough to laugh, snicker and purposely make me feel uncomfortable?
With lunch time approaching, I had no clue what to do…
Over the years, I have learned how to “let go” of situations that were harmful to me. I mean, distancing oneself away from toxic people and environments are always a good thing.
But then, I started to think about the things I have let go of that were actually very good for me.
Of course hindsight is 20/20 and one of the things I never should have let go of was my writing.
As a kid, reading and writing were my happy places that filled the void in a world where I felt invisible. Reading was an escape and writing my own little stories where I controlled the narrative gave me the power to create my own worlds where I was reflected.
So why did I give it up?
Well, back in the day, like many other children of immigrant parents who had their children’s career paths predetermined (this is code for “doctor” or “lawyer”), I learned to sweep my dream under the nearest rug and fulfill my role as the dutiful daughter.
The demotivation of hearing how I would starve from writing didn’t help either and eventually I believed it so I packed up my favorite pens and notebooks filled with ideas and did what I was expected to do.
But not before I did something I have never really shared with others…
I’ll save the longer story for another day but to make a longer story short, the summer before I started studying for my “career”, I sent out query letters with sample chapters to a handful of agencies from a novel I had started and guess what? A few of those agencies wanted to read the entire manuscript once it was finished.
Well, I never wrote that manuscript and never followed through. I filed away those “interested” replies and forged ahead with what I was expected to do.
To be honest, sending out those query letters had everything to do with proving to myself that I could spin a decent tale and that my dream was not so far-fetched and frivolous. My queries had little to do with actually becoming “published”.
Why am I sharing this?
Because only recently did I realize that writing and being a published author are not synonymous.
I have finally decided to LET GO of the idea of being a “published” author. It’s clear to me that the writer’s block that I have been suffering from over the past few years only started when jumped on the pre-pandemic “I wanna be a published author” train.
My writing doesn’t have to have an “end goal” of being “published” so I’m jumping off that train.
If I end up writing a story that I think is worthy of being self-published, I could simply outsource that job to someone to do it for me.
I promised my newsletter subscribers that I would share a story and I will be making good on that promise. I might start off a bit slow but slow and steady wins the race, right?
I’m not a wizard at all things technology so I’m building a Page on this blog for them just in case the story doesn’t format properly into the newsletter.
On New Years Eve, I fell into my old Rick Astley playlist and decided on this song title. I can’t promise that the title will remain until the end of the story but it will do for now.
This little story will begin through the eyes of the male protagonist, Tyler and the plan is to make it “interactive” so that newsletter subscribers will be able to weigh in on “how” the story unfolds.
Let me know what you think of this intro below. I’m working on the first installment now. By the way, my plan is to make Tyler very, very hot! 🙂