Originally posted on tumblr here on July 5, 2014.
It’s weird how, of the many things that have hurt me and I’m sensitive about, there are some that I tend to avoid talking about and others that I can’t stop talking about. I talk a lot about love, even though that’s what has hurt me the most – I think because I still view falling in love and trying so hard as somewhat brave. However, I’ve also been mistreated socially quite a bit – you could say bullied at some points – but I don’t talk about it a lot because there is a part of me that still views it as a sign of weakness on my part, even though I know how silly that is.
This weekend, some of my friends and ex-friends are off at a little vacation spot not far from here that’s owned by one of their families. They’ve gone to this place at least once most years for about the past 7 years or so – and yet, I’ve never been invited. It used to be a big deal, a massive party with the whole gang – now it’s a smaller deal, but it’s still something that I hear people talk about pretty frequently, that I’m completely excluded from. They went there for a grad trip after high school, and I went nowhere because they had been my friends, and I was not invited. And people tell me stories of the drama that occurred there, expecting me to sympathize with them, and I have a hard time doing so because all I can think is, “I wish I was there.” I’d take all the petty drama in the world in exchange for a chance to feel included.
Usually I look at situations like these and I wonder how anyone can be so cruel – surely they must know how much it hurts me. Surely they know that deliberately excluding someone is wrong. But maybe they don’t. Maybe they are genuinely just so far buried in their own world that they have no idea how their actions (or lack of action) affect others. It’s not like I don’t have those moments sometimes too. It’s true that I like to see the best in everyone, but that’s not me being overly optimistic, I’m just considering all the possibilities. Maybe they’ve been deliberately mean, maybe they completely forgot I exist, maybe they’re genuinely clueless.
So, if anyone’s wondering, this is what it feels like:
When I was 16 and 17 I found myself with next to no friends – don’t ask me to explain how, because I genuinely don’t know. I was part of a large, close-knit group, and after this I had to sit through classes with them where I moved seats to get away from them, could hear them whispering about me at times, and had to watch them talk about all their exciting plans that I wasn’t a part of at a louder volume than necessary because they were kind of obnoxious, just in general. Plans that I myself had helped create in the earlier days, and plans I dreamed of making in the later days.
It was hard for me to focus in classes with people who hated my guts sitting a few feet away from me, and by the end of grade 12 I might have failed without assistance from my counsellor and teachers. If they fail kids in high school – I don’t think anyone would have let that happen back then because I was obviously a smart kid who normally worked hard, but I had been a straight A student so it really hurt my confidence. I don’t think I ever really felt like I was smart after that until like, last year.
We all lived in the same neighbourhood and walked home the same way – I used to walk with them, and we would meet in the stairwell at the back of the school. I had to walk past them (sometimes I would leave late on purpose to avoid them) – I’d be on one side of the street, they’d be on the other, acting like they didn’t see me or know who I was, and I’d just try to play it cool, like I didn’t know them either and never did, but meanwhile I could feel tears forming in my eyes. I really wished I had sunglasses.
I saw the school counsellor in grade 12 and I would try to make appointments during the classes I had with those people so that I could get away from them. There was a lot of crying in bathroom stalls – one of my most vivid memories is overhearing in the hallway before class that my ex was going to prom with my former best friend and pretty much immediately turning around to go cry for I don’t know how long. I was probably late for class at least, if I even went back.
I was the type of girl who dreamed about prom – I used to make sketches of what I wanted my dream dress to look like, and true to form I spent $1000 on a ballgown (maybe not the wisest decision, but it was the only thing I could do for myself). And it was a nice night; one of my best friends that I still had from out of town came down just to take me, so I didn’t have to go alone. But I didn’t get to ride in the limo and take beautiful pictures and go to an afterparty with everybody else. I wanted it to be the best day of my teenaged life and I still felt excluded. It was rubbed in my face, too – afterwards, my more recent ex decided to drive us to my first ex’s house, where all my friends were having their afterparty. He called him and asked if we could come in – obviously the answer was no. I’m pretty sure that ex #1 doesn’t remember this (thanks, alcohol – the one time you’ve ever been on my side), but it happened, and I know it happened, and I was mortified and angry and even though I knew it was stupid I STILL felt left out. I couldn’t even forget about it for one night, someone always had to remind me: You do not belong here. You are not good enough.
That is how it feels. It does not get easier. Ever. You just get better at pretending like you don’t care, and you find new friends and things to do. But I’ll never forget my old friends and how they made me feel, and I’ll especially never forget it while I’m still friends with some of them. I was 16 then, I’m nearly 22 now, but despite all the time that’s passed, my friends are on a trip without me and I am sad. I’m angry at them, I’ve lost a lot of respect for them, but I still miss them. We had good times. They know stuff about me that other people don’t. It’s stupid to pretend like that’s not the case just for the sake of seeming tough. I am tough and strong – I’ve gotten through things that a lot of other people don’t have to go through. Still caring doesn’t negate that.
Every time you exclude someone, you are making them feel this way. Maybe not exactly, maybe not to this degree, but I guarantee you that you are hurting them. No one is as tough as they seem. Ask yourself if that’s okay with you, and if they deserve it. I personally don’t think that anybody does.
It looked all right in the pictures
Getting caught’s half of the trip though, isn’t it?
I fall apart, with all my heart
And you can watch from your window
Chelsea Ricchio is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the SPEAK OUT blog. She is also the Communications Manager for Healthy Minds Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto in 2015 with a BA in English Literature and Book & Media Studies. She was the former president of the student group Active Minds at UofT, which hosts SPEAK OUT events on campus (from which this blog takes its name). She was diagnosed with Dysthymia and Social Anxiety. She is 22 and lives in Toronto with her cat Genie and her roommate.