One of the things I remind myself of on a regular basis is that I am NOT good in groups.
This realization came to me for the first time when I was in elementary school. I had just switched from Catholic school to public school and I had a really difficult time adjusting.
I didn't move. I just switched schools. I "luckily" knew a few girls from the neighborhood who went to that school. You'd think that would have made things easier. It did not. It was a HUGE adjustment.
In the Catholic school there were only about 200 kids, if that, in the entire school. The classes were small and we knew almost every student in the entire school. There weren't "groups" or "cliques" just friends. It was simple.
All of that changed in my new school, where I desperately wanted to fit in. To be popular.
What kid doesn't want to be popular? Isn't that the thing?
The girls I knew prior to my transfer ended up being the equivalent of the "Mean Girls." Of course I didn't know that until I got to school. They were apparently the "most popular" crowd. No matter, that's where I wanted to be. After all, they already know me. It should be a no brainer. Right?
In this school there were "groups". I didn't get the whole "group" mentality. I didn't get ideal of the most populars, the next most populars and down the line, whatever. I just knew I wanted to have friends - and I wanted to have THOSE friends. I knew them, they knew me so that's what I gravitated toward.
Not so easy.
Outside of school when I was the girl on the next block, I was fine. Now I was in THEIR school. NOW things were different. Although I technically lived in Totowa, my street was the last street in town. I was not considered to be a "Totowa girl" by these girls. I was considered a "Paterson girl." None of that really made any difference to me. It definitely made a difference to them.
Even still, I was able to make a friends and a good friend, Dianne. She was super nice to me and she introduced me to her other friends. I didn't realize it, but I was in her "group."
Not getting the whole "group" thing, I continued to strive to be with the other "group" of girls. In the process I not only got my own feelings hurt by the mean girl crowd, but I also hurt the feelings of the people who had befriended me.
It was also the moment that I'd decided that I would never change who I am, or follow the crowd, just to fit in. I'm good enough just the way I am. My friends are my friends and that's that.
In my adult life, I've generally kept to myself. I have many friends but they don't really have much to do with each other besides me. I don't need to be a part of something bigger. I'm not a joiner or one who needs to do what the group is doing. That always seemed like a recipe for trouble.
That's DEFINITELY a feeling and thought I should have kept with.
Within the past few years I found myself part of a "group" of women. A "clique." The "mommy crowd." A group of women who came together through the children and were constantly together for one kid event or another. With this group, I found myself going beyond just kid events, but all wrapped up in outings and girls' night outs more regularly than I ever had. Though it was fun for a while, it messed with other areas in my life which are more important to me.
Did I mention that I'm not good in groups?
When people (and personalities) are in each others faces constantly, there's bound to be conflict. Even in the most mature of crowds. Fortunately, when the fit hit the shan (get it, tee hee) I was content to walk away. I still have my core friends that have nothing to do with anyone else and that's completely fine by me. My life isn't any different than it was before. Just like I like it.
In working with teens in the past, I've had opportunity to see many cliches that are reflected in movies. There's always one who wants to be the queen bee. The one that needs to be at the top of the hive, the "Regina George" (Mean Girls). The one who wants to be the center of everyone's world. This is the one who wants to make the plans for everyone. To some degree, I get that. Not everyone is creative in thinking of things to do. Everyone has their strengths. In many instances, it's the girl whose parents have more money - who has more resources at her disposal, who is able to create the "fun." There's the "lackey" who will do all they can to keep the queen bee happy and the other girls, who are pretty or along for the good time.
Being in a "group" both as a kid and as an adult it's very clear that I'm not a group person. I don't conform. I'd rather do my own thing, than do what everyone else is doing. Period.
That doesn't make it good or bad - it just is, in the same way some people are able to be serial daters while others prefer relationships. The important thing is to find your own niche and stick with it!
No matter how old you are, the group mentality will always exist.
As I always tell my kids, don't "not do" something that you really want to do because your friends don't want to do it. You'll always regret it. Do your own thing - find your own way. School will always be "make believe" in the way that the parts all the kids "play" aren't real. The pretty popular girl, the freak, the jock, the nerd, the hoodlum (ala Breakfast Club) - those parts all disappear in the real world. The key is to maintain you individuality. Do what YOU want to do, not what the others are doing. Don't pretend.
...and if you're not good in groups, that's OK too! It's better to have one or two really GREAT friends - than 10 kinda sorta friends.
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