Ok so I need to just get this off my chest I think. Well I think its pretty clear that I need to get it off my chest since, its 3 am and I woke up crying and then couldn’t fall back asleep no for almost an hour while my mind raced around an event that happened to me back in high school; an event that although was not nearly the most traumatic, scariest, or craziest event in my life it was probably the most publicly humiliating event in my life, and the first time I felt truly alone; an event about pants.
When I was in high school I had learned that you don’t need millions of friends as long as you had 1 or 2 really good ones, and that’s what I had, in fact through my entire K-12 career I can count on 1 hand how many friends I had. I was, and still am completely fine with this, however my school was very cliquey, to the point where even if I was friends with one person, it was like we were never truly aloud to be friends, because I wasn’t friends with the 20 other people in their clique, which again was fine other than high school lunch. In elementary and middle school, you sat with your class, in high school you sat where you wanted. Oh the freedom! Well not if the 3 friends you have happen to be in different lunches. I avoided high school lunch my freshman and sophomore year by over filling my class schedule, but as a junior I dropped my music classes in order to get a break during the day. Lunch was anything but. I had to sit in a cafeteria full of people I didn’t know, I wasn’t aloud to leave once I was finished eating to go to the library or gym. Some kids had notes from their parents that aloud them to leave campus entirely and go eat lunch elsewhere, but no such luck on my end. So I was stuck. I found quickly that the girls in my school were much more cliquey than the guys, and if I found a table of all boys, they would be more welcoming to allowing me to sit with them if they had room. This lead to me bouncing around from one table to the next, depending on which table had someone who was out sick, or skipping that day, and meeting some pretty interesting characters. Although I got along with the people I sat with, I cant remember any of their names which goes to show either how terrible my memory is, or just how much we actually interacted.
Another important back story fact is that I was known as the girl who never wore jeans. Every day I would wear yoga pants, or sweatpants, but never anything else. I was a swimmer, and trying to squeeze into a pair of jeans in 5 minutes when your still somewhat wet, just isn’t going to happen. Plus yoga pants and sweat pants were just so comfortable, I never saw the point in wearing anything else. Until this one time…
Everything happened in one day at lunch. There was an upper level to our cafeteria where you could get snacks and where all the upperclassmen sat, and then there was the lower level with the lunch line and the lowerclassmen. I normally only had enough money to buy a soft pretzel for lunch which was on the upper level, so here I was in line for a soft pretzel when a girl from the soccer team came up to me to comment on my pants. Told me they were cute or something. Honestly, she and I had been practicing soccer together now for 2 years, but had ever exchanged a single word, so her comment on my pants caught me off guard, but I thanked her and went about getting my pretzel. A second later, she was gone, and another girl from her table was behind me playing 20 questions with me about these pants. Asking me when I got them and what store, and where was the store, but her entire body language wasn’t “hey, cute pants! Where did you get them so I can get some?” it was almost scary in the way she was asking, like she was angry that I was answering. After about 2 minutes the girl from my soccer team waved her back over to the table and I got my pretzel and went to find a table. I kept feeling watched, and I was right because once I found a table I snuck a peak up at the table with the girls and saw a few of them looking over at me; and not the “don’t let them see me looking at them” look, this was full on, evil stares that they didn’t care if I or anyone else saw. I wasn’t sure what was coming next, but I had been on the tail end of enough high school humiliation to know that something bad was going to happen before the end of the lunch hour. I snuck my chance when the lunch line was long using it as cover to move to another table. I hid right along the wall to the upper level at a table with people I didn’t know. Apparently one of them knew me and came over to ask what I was doing? Not in a mean way just a hey, you’ve never sat here before what’s up kind of way. I told him the wall was the most comfy place to sit because it gives you a chair with back support and he sat with his back to the wall with me making idle chatter, and everything was fine. Everything was fine until there were about 20 minutes left to lunch.
A girl from the previously mentioned table came up to me and started yelling at me that I stole the pants I was wearing. They were not mine and I should give them back. I was a bit dumbfounded and shocked at first because this is not exactly the type of thing I was expecting. My dumbfounded look must have angered her because it made her yell louder. The fact that she was accusing me of stealing her pants had now sunk in, and so I stood up and try to tell her that I had not stolen them. Bad move. Girls from all over the cafeteria started coming up to me, and telling me I had stolen their pants too. There was no point in arguing with these people so I sat back down and ignored them. Eventually some got tired of yelling and others were told to go sit down by the cafeteria aids. But don’t be fooled, my sitting down was yet another bad move. One of the guys from the original girls table came down. Funny thing is that I knew this guy, I knew most of the guys in the school, especially the jocks, because my dad helped train most of them, so I would workout with most of them and I would help some plan their nutrition (only wrestlers needed the nutrition really). Being that I knew him I thought maybe he was coming to see what the yelling was about, see that it was me and that would be that, but apparently not. These girls either honestly thought I stole their pants, or they were playing one of the worst jokes in the history of high school pranks in the world. My friend leans in and asks did you steal her pants? I told him no. He asks if I am sure because his friends (the girls) are pretty convinced? Again I assure him that no I had not. Then he flips. He starts shouting to tell me they showed him evidence that it was me who had stolen the pants. As soon as he starts yelling 2 more guys come down, along with all of the original girls and a few new ones. Every single one of them looks pissed, and I know that if they wanted to they could kick my ass. (haha especially with the odds now being something like 10-1). Needless to say, I’m pretty scared especially since the group seems to be closing in one me. So I start looking for an exit strategy. I scrambled under the table I had been sitting at and crawled out the other end, my shirt covered in cafeteria food, only to have the head disciplinarian waiting for me at the other end looking pissed. At some point I must have started crying because I remember being paraded through the cafeteria by him with people laughing both at my food covered outfit, and the fact that I cried. He took me back to his office where he started berating me with questions about the pants. Finally I told him that honestly if this was all about a pair of jeans, that I would gladly get rid of them if I could go get some sweatpants from my locker. Honestly they were the only jeans that I owned, and I had gotten them with a gift certificate to a store that priced jeans so high they cost more than what I spend in groceries a week now. I didn’t really want to get rid of them because I had found a pair of jeans I liked, they were super soft like leggings, and they were from a really cool store, and they fit me really well, so I felt good wearing them. But nothing could make me want to live getting screamed at by what felt like ½ the cafeteria while the other half watched. Nothing made me want to see people that I thought were at least friendly acquaintances scream and yell at me humiliating me in front of everyone.
I felt alone because everyone had a group; a tight knit group that would back them up no matter what. And when I was trapped by all these groups, there was no one left to have my back. I was amazed at the level of commitment that these people had to their friends; that they would gang up on one person based on a half truth, and I wanted nothing more than to have friends like that; someone to have my back when I needed it, or go to war for me on a whim. I thought that was amazing, because I had never had that.
This is what woke me up tonight. This is what stopped me from falling back asleep. An event from years ago, that was not the most painful, devastating, or hurtful, but probably one of the most humiliating and the first time I felt truly alone. I write this because 1 I couldn’t sleep and I wanted to get this off my chest, but 2 because I am sure that I am not the only person who has gone through this, or is going through this, or will ever go through this, and I just want you all to know that it does get better. This is the first time since the week of the incident that I have even thought about it. It will pass. Things will work out. I promise.