Growing up, I always felt more comfortable being friends with the male of the species. They never expected me to act a certain way, accepted me for who I was, and just let me have fun, cut loose and speak my mind, without any major repercussions. Instead of being one of the girls that sat on the sidelines and watched the boys roughhouse at recess, giggling and trying to catch their attention, I caught their attention by running out and doing what they were doing, whether it was playing tackle street hockey, or building the biggest ramps on the planet to ride our toboggans over. As I got older though, the more I tried to be one of the girls. It didn't suit me much. I wasn't too good at gossiping, talking about my "female problems" and neither me nor my family had the money to keep me up with all the fashion trends. Although those girls from my younger years were wonderful in their own way, I just always felt like I didn't quite fit. I didn't trust them. They turned on each other every other minute, and I knew that my turn was going to come at some point, no matter how 'cool' I was, and I wasn't sure if I could deal with it. I had seen how evil they were to each other, and just how evil I could be when it was expected of me, and then one day in English class, I decided just to get 'my turn' over with, and go my own way. Beat them to the punch.
It was harsh. Just moments after I told our fearless leader of the week to "fuck off and die" (or something along those lines), the school was a buzz. Everyone in my school ( that went from grades six to twelve at the time) was told to stop talking to me. Horrible lies, insanely rude comments and harrassment of all kinds abounded. The popular girls, that had been my friends since kindergarten, were making sure I wasn't going to come out of this on top. I was sure I was going to need a bodyguard, and years of therapy, and was seriously re-considering my decision to quit following the crowd.
After a couple weeks of tip-toeing around school, missing out on all the social engagements that I had always attended and feeling like an absolute piece of shit, the boys came around. A couple of them were planning on skipping school for the afternoon and asked me if I wanted to come along for coffee. I told them I probably shouldn't, as I didn't feel like getting an ass-kicking from their girlfriends afterwards. They rolled their eyes, and told me to grab my jacket, they were leaving NOW. I spent the next few afternoons hanging out with the guys. I revelled in the fact that I could say what I wanted to say, wear what I wanted to wear, and laugh my fool head off.
One day after school, the boys and I were heading to our regular hangout to loiter and try to score free coffee, as per usual. As we were sneaking out the side door, "the girls" caught up with us, and informed the boys that they were coming with us, as they shot me incredibly evil looks. Although I just wanted to back out, and make up an excuse as to why I changed my mind, I went along. "I was invited, and you weren't", I thought to myself, and lead the way.
It was a gruelling couple of hours. I had to sit and watch giggly girls, flirting and acting like they were stupid. I couldn't get a word in edge-wise, and for the first time in my life, couldn't wait until my mom was off of work, so I could go home. At some point, I decided that I had had enough, and told the guys I had to go. The girls were over at the fooseball table, flirting with some older guys, and one of the boys told me to sit back down, he had something to say to me. "Oh this is fucking great. The guys have realized what a loser I am, too." I cringed.
He sat across from me in the booth, and stared me straight in the eye.
"You aren't like them." he said.
"What the fuck are you talking about?"
" You don't act like you're stupid. You aren't stupid. You're funny, and pretty, and you are a cool, cool chick, who is fine just being herself. Don't ever feel like you have to be like them, we like you just the way you are."
This guy, who spent much of his youth snapping my bra, pummelling me with snowballs, stealing my belongings and basically embarrassing the crap out of me, had just given me the greatest compliment ever. As well as the biggest boost of confidence I had ever felt. And he didn't even want to get in my pants.
I left that day, promising myself that I would forever be myself. Whoever didn't like it, could kiss my ass. I have never broken that promise to myself, or the guys I hung out with in high school.
I was never welcomed fully back into that clique of girls. Even now, as an adult, I know that I am different than they are, and when I run into them at reunions, on holidays and the like, we make polite small talk. For the most part, they are all still a part of each other's lives, and I have nothing to do with it. I don't really care what they are up to, and vice versa.
And all I can say about that is...is good for me.