I was a tomboy in my youth. I could take on almost any boy in the neighborhood. And I could whoop his butt.
That's what I envied about the boys. They'd have a disagreement, they'd tussle, and then they'd move on like nothing ever happened.
Not with girls. Girls can be mean. And those that are know how to drag a battle out and they usually bring in reinforcements.
Back then, I didn't know how to handle that. Hell, even now, I'm not so sure I could.
Unlike when I was around boys, if you placed me in a group of girls, I became a shy, much walked upon doormat. I was a total wuss because I wanted them to like me. I wanted nothing more than to feel included.
I usually wasn't.
Oh, I had my best friend. She was one of those girls that everyone loved. She was so full of personality that you couldn't help but be drawn to her. When I was with her, what others thought didn't matter.
But, unfortunately, she didn't go to my school. So, in school, I was on my own. In 7th grade I became part of a group. A group that made my life a living hell.
Well, let me correct that. They made my life a living hell approximately fifty percent of the time. The other fifty percent of the time, they persuaded me to make another "group member's" life a living hell. Those days were the only days I felt safe within the fold. Those days were the ones that the attention was off of me and on to someone else.
This poor girl, she was just like me, so in need of acceptance. I wonder if she felt the same way I did when it was her turn to be in their good graces. She and I, we took turns wreaking havoc on each other while the puppet masters stood by manipulating our strings, totally amused and entertained. I wonder if she felt as ashamed as I did that I allowed others to turn me a mean girl.
I wish I had been a stronger person. I wish I had stood up for myself. I wish I had stood up for her too.
I got into a lot of trouble that year. I did things I never would have done on my own. It was peer pressure at it's worst. And I succumbed to it so easily, merely because I wanted these girls to like me.
Lately, I have been seeing a bit of myself in my daughter. She is as tough as nails with us. She stands her ground and speaks her mind with her brothers. She is not a pushover to most.
But when I observe her with her closest of friends; I see a difference.
She too wants to feel included and accepted. She does not like when she feels left out or ignored and is devastated when her BFF is angry with her. She has a tendency to give in just to keep the peace.
I want more for my daughter. I don't want her to make the same mistakes I did just to feel like she belongs. I want her to feel strong and confident in her choices and decisions. I don't want her to feel that she needs to compromise herself to please others and I want her to know that a real friend will be there for her no matter what.
The little girl in me wants her to know that anyone would be lucky to have her as a friend.