Mar 5, 2010

A Changed Perspective...

A few weeks ago, in the middle of the most un-enjoyable part of my week - the post swimming dry and dress routine - I saw something that broke my heart, made me angry and hasn't fully left the back corners of my mind since. First of all, let me complain about the post swimming dry and dress routine (because it just wouldn't be me if I didn't go off on a random tangent first)... why in heck can't they heat the dressing rooms at community centres? Of course, Jane is fine because as soon as the air touches her body when we're getting out of the pool, I have a warm cozy towel on her... but what about me? Me? I drip, soaking wet, towel-less, into the freeze-your-ba**s-off dressing room where I proceed to fully dry and dress my child before even getting a chance to put a towel around myself. At this point, I'm in such a rush to get home before Jane passes out (the post-swim nap is the best and god forbid I miss any of my "me time") that I don't even bother taking my bathing suit off anymore and just put my gym clothes on over it praying that I don't run into anyone who wants to check out my a** because they will think I've peed my pants because of the big wet spot. :p Ok, back to it...

As I was slipping back into my clothes, a bunch of junior high girls came into the dressing room - must have been a class outing or something. I immediately rolled my eyes. Lord help me if I have to stay in here any longer and listen to the obviously "cool girls" talk about which bathing suit they brought ("I brought two", "Oh, you're wearing a one piece, I brought my bikini", etc. etc.). Even their backpacks were more stylish than I ever was. Then I looked down my aisle of lockers. There was only one girl in my entire aisle. She didn't have a "cool" plaid backpack... just a simple, dark green, old-school, nylon backpack. She didn't have perfectly straight, highlighted hair... instead, shoulder length, slightly frizzy, unruly, un-coloured, curly hair. She wasn't wearing skinny jeans tucked into $100 rubber boots or (when will this fad end?) Uggs... just regular old jeans and running sneakers. She wasn't gabbing, louder than necessary, with four girls at once about bathing suits and boys... she wasn't talking to anyone. No one was talking to her. My heart broke.

Firstly, I wanted to grab the "loner" girl's arm, drag her out of the locker room and tell her that in ten years she would be beautiful, successful, happy. That in ten years, although she'd never forget about the nonsense that was high school, she would realize that she learned a lot from it and that, all in all, it made her a better person. I'd be lying if I told you I was the nerdy girl cause I wasn't it. However, I was no where near homecoming queen. I moved twice... once in junior high and once in the middle of high school. After my junior high move, I used to call my Mom at lunch to come and get me, crying after finding something horrible written about me on a school desk. After my high school move, I was just angry. I had moved away from my first love and left all my closest friends to go to a huge school where, once again, most of the girls hated me... to be honest, it was a catch-22. Girls are mean. So, what did I do? I hung out with boys. Of course, boys just happened to be "boyfriends" and so the girls hated me more because they thought I was a boyfriend stealer. Thankfully, in both situations, I ended up meeting some great people and, like I wanted to tell the girl in the locker room, I'm a better person because of those tough experiences. Although I still want to hit those people who call high school "the good ol' days".

With that said, I've often wondered, is it better to be in the "nerdy" crowd? Is it better to go relatively unnoticed and stay below the radar (most of the time)? I realize that girls, especially, can be mean and that being in the "nerdy" crowd may result in some really piss-poor experiences. However, here's what I've noticed after being on both sides - the pretty and popular girls are very often the most insecure. Because they believe they are "cool" because of their looks, they are very likely insanely insecure about their personality (saying the "right" things) and their appearance (wearing the "right" things) in fear that someone will suddenly realize they really aren't cool enough (the fact that I'm using the word "cool" probably dates me doesn't it?). I bet fully trusting your girlfriends is difficult when you've seen them turn on another friend at the slightest opportunity to have competition knocked off? There seems to be a lot of drama and stress that comes with being in the "cool" crowd.

Looking back on my experiences, although I wasn't in the "nerdy" crowd, at some points I was definitely in the girl people loved-to-hate (which is basically the same)... but the friends I did have were true friends. Friends who stuck by me through everything. Friends who didn't care what I wore, said, liked, anything. Friends, I knew, weren't talking about me behind my back but were sticking up for me. A lot of these friends were guys - I had the best guyfriends. Yes, I was insecure, I was a teenage girl. But I strongly believe I gained more confidence as an "outsider" because I realized quickly that I didn't care what others thought of me because I liked me (I realize I'm sounding like a "The More You Know" commercial at this point). Hurtful things were said and, I'm not gonna lie, those days sucked. But I'm better off having had the experiences I did than I would be had it all been easy breezy.

So, when I look at my own daughter, I'm conflicted. Do I want her to be the catty, popular girl who is mean, insecure, and dramatic but has it more "easy, breezy"? Or, do I want her to be the girl who gets picked on, has tough days but builds confidence, character and has great friends? Honestly, I have no idea. Originally, I had titled this post "Nervous about Nerdy" because I thought being popular would be "better" but now, having thought about it, I have no title for the post and I have no answer for what I would want for her. Obviously, I can't control the outcome. I can build her confidence, I can give her the tools to be a good person and guide her in the "right' direction but she'll choose her own path.

This is why I write. In the 45 minutes it took me to write this post, I completely changed directions. I had looked at that girl in the locker room and felt bad for her. I had thought about her Mom and how I would feel if my daughter didn't have the "easy, breezy" path. Now, I realize that it'll be hard regardless of what group Jane is a part of. Too see her be a "mean girl" would be just as hard, maybe even harder, than having her get picked on sometimes. God. It's hard to even think about that. It was hard for me to even type that. To think of someone saying something bad or being mean to my baby. Maybe I'll just keep her in the house for the rest of her life and never let her talk to anyone who doesn't love her already. :p This whole being a Mom thing is never going to be easy is it? My worries about poop and germs are just going to turn into worries about "mean girls" and broken hearts! I pray that those are my biggest worries... that we should be so lucky.

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trac54 said...

I enjoyed reading this. In the weirdist way I guess. I understand that feeling. Even though I don't have a baby to worry about, it's a fear that any mother or potential mother would feel.

However, in the end it all has to do with Jane. I was so lucky, when I went through school I was ALWAYS the "butterfly" I wasn't popular, I wasn't nerdy and I certianly wasnt a skeet, however I could carry on a conversation with all three of these groups.

I managed to get myself unnoticed and noticed at the same time. I was fat in junior high but WHO ISN'T! When you look back on that you just laugh. Even though it was hard at the time.

I think the biggest thing that will influence Jane's life is strong friendships because in the end. whatever she is. If she has friends by her side it shouldn't be so bad.

In the mean time! Don't worry about your 9 month old! She's doing good so far, she's got pals all over the place!

Catrina said...

What a great post.

I don't think I was ever in a crowd in high school. I had freinds from different crowds but didn't belong to one. I to had alot of guy freinds because girls were so mean and catty. So because of having all the guys freinds, the "cool girls" or people the LOVED to HATE me would start rumors about me being with this guy or that guy or trying to steal so and so's boyfreind. I hated it but the way I look at it like you said they were insecure, especially if they thought a "uncool girl" could steal thier boyfreind from them.
My oldest daughter is in 1st grade and is already dealing with catty girls, saying mean things because they are jealous that one of the boys likes her and not them. I told her don't worry about those girls just hang out with your freinds that are boys. She use to get upset that the girls didn't want to play with her, We just explained to her that those are not the type of girls she wants to play with if they are gonna act that way. She is doing great now.

Jen said...

Thanks girls - your advice is always appreciated.

Catrina, your experience with your own daughter gives me peace of mind. I guess "like mother, like daughter" so if I managed to survive it all with a smile on my face, so will she!

Emily said...

Lovely post my dear friend. Not that you're starting to worry about this early or anything. ;) If you want my two cents, I think you will teach her to be kind, and then, nerdy or popular, she'll be ok. :)
love you!

Lindsay said...

LOVE this post!! 110% agree!!

I was not nerdy but definately NOT cool in jr.high/high school. I was the girl with the running shoes and un-coloured, slightly frizzy/curly hair with no hint of designer ANYTHING. My friends were all the same.

We were a group of good kids, smart, kept to ourselves for the most part. I am still GOOD friends with a few of them to this day (12 years after HS ended, good lord!)

I get scared of what the teenage years will bring for my baby girl too ... so freaking scared. My mom and I were talking about this very subject just yesterday and she reminded me that those years (and preteen too, Im guessing) are when you, as a parent, really have to reach out and ask for help when you need it. From your parents, friends, professionals, wherever it can come from.

All I can hope is that the next 9 years will prepare me for all of it!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Jen! As every mom has been a young girl, we know the mind games girls can play on each other, and we pray our little dolls aren't the 'victim' or the one dishing out the garbage to the others. At some point though, they'll experience it one way or another.

When my little one Fiona was 3, she developed alopecia areata (patchy hair loss - auto immune condition). It was devastating. I lost alot of sleep over it imagining my bald or patchy sweet girl getting teased and bullied because of it. It was shocking to see this pretty little girl with hair missing in patches. But you know, at 3 years old, she had so much personality that wasn't tied up with vanity or how others viewed her, it wasn't on her radar at all. And at 4 years old when it started to grow back, although very patchy and other new 'shiny' spots appearing, she was ok. Despite the staring and odd questions, she was so cool about it. She wore scarves and hats, or nothing at all. She really didn't care. We really tried to not make it a big deal.

There is no guarantee that her alopecia won't come back. I pray it doesn't. But if it does, and she's 8 or 10 or 13 or whatever, likely that vanity will play a much bigger role and we'll have to deal with that, but I know my kid knows she's loved, and she has friends from all different circles that accept her. They saw her bald, and they see her now. She's turning 6 in a month, and has a crazy full head of curly hair. And a ton of personality to go along with it!

If anyone shed tears about her hair, it was me. I cried on my parents, sisters, and friends shoulders. And it if happens again and Fiona sheds tears over it next time, she'll have her parents and sisters and friends shoulders too. Cause girls are good at supporting each other too. Thank God!

Later babe,
Jen Hubick

**** April **** said...

I can so relate... I had friends on both sides... I was actually in the middle. I was friends with a little bit of everyone. I liked not feeling the pressure of the "in" clique =-- though I was accepted there...and I was friends with the nerds, the ropers (cowboys), the stoners, the geeks, the Asian crowd. I think that teaching your child to just be friends... just because it's nice to have friends is the way to go! :)