While I Still Don’t Look Like A Model, I Am Closing in on Hairy Old Grandma

You may also like...

24 Responses

  1. Lil says:

    I can’t get over that you know what happened to people you went to junior high with. And that you’re still in contact with people from university. I find that completely mind boggling. Wow.

  2. Erin says:

    This post brings back a lot of memories…unfortunately I might have been the writer of such notes. I wasn’t always a very sweet little girl! I don’t recall being picked on, but seemed like I was always on the fringes of most groups, always doubting that they liked or even noticed me. I think that’s what made me a bit of a mean girl – the idea that being the first one to strike was better than the possibility of being struck at. I’ve apologized so many times to one girl I was especially mean to that I think she thinks I’m nuts. I still feel bad about it though.

  3. C-leen says:

    HEY, I caught your note. Thanks for finger-punting it at me. Lurrrrve you.

  4. Robin says:

    Good stuff, my beautiful friend. The theme of our parallel lives continues as I had a very similar experience in 6th grade. Literally showed up to school one day and the group of friends I thought I had wouldn’t talk to me. Then, when one of them (her name was Andrea) accidentally slipped and talked to me, she explained that the ring leader (Michelle) would be really mad if she found out, so could I please not tell her. Apparently my infraction was some imagined slight to Michelle, so I was out. Overnight. Plus, I was “fat.” I had always felt on the fringe anyway, but it was a pivotal moment for me. I never looked at any of those girls the same way again and a year later I left public school and went to a private girls school with uniforms and a few wonderful misfits who are still my friends to this day despite my complete and total departure from So. Cal. after high school. It’s funny, but much of my diffuse yet persistent dislike of Southern California probably traces back to that moment. There is residual mistrust of the kind of culture that would treat me that way. In any event, hurray to you for surviving and thriving and finally calling the bullies out. Too many of us have endured the same thing. You are fabulous.

  5. Becky says:

    This made me tear up. My frosh roomie, whom I love, was also a cool kid. I was not. Took awhile to find my niche. your post brought back a lot of good, bad, challenging memories.

  6. Though I carry no written evidence, I still have keen memories of school unkindness, fortunately way over balanced by a lot of better experiences. The class reunion, a couple of weeks ago, was all about the love. I was paired with a random roommate my freshman year that made me feel like an outsider and I still remember the unbelievable relief when I was moved out of the triple with two such girls and found “my people”. There would be other betrayals. Nothing is quite so unsettling as lacking the wisdom to discern to what degree others assessment of you is true or false. One of the things we forget that wasn’t so great about being young. And being able to wrap those memories in mercy, one of the best things about being older.

  7. chlost says:

    You’ve painted such a vivid picture of college life….it brought mine back to me. I am a “bit” older, and my freshman year in the early 70s was spent in a new-fangled college dorm which was *gasp!* co-ed, intellectual and full of the weirdoes at an otherwise rather placid, religious-based college in the middle of nowhere. My roommate was the first vegetarian I’d ever met. Drugs were openly exchanged and enjoyed (one of the women on our floor is rumored to have died of an overdose of heroin a few years after college). The woman down the hall whose sexual ecstasy was hard to miss was somewhat appalling to me. I felt very naïve, inexperienced, stupid and straight-laced. Looking back, it was an amazing learning experience, but I changed schools the next year.

    This is what college is for-learning about life and our place in the world. I feel badly for the young people who are missing this as they are encouraged to skip college for technical schools or community college. Living with people whose life experience is different than your own broadens your own life. Even knowing the modus operandi of the self-described “beautiful people” is valuable.

  8. Green Girl in Wisconsin says:

    Oh, I remember those slam books–and how NASTY we acted, cutthroat and MEAN. I never saved a shred of that stuff, thank goodness (one perk of moving every 3-4 years, I guess).
    But unlike you, I found kindred spirits right away in college and never got snubbed by anyone I wanted to be friends with. How painful.

  9. You found your people…and they found their people….and then you sort of all found yourselves and realized you are really not that different even if you are very different. That’s beautiful.

  10. lime says:

    i was quite impressed that you knew the whereabouts of the jr high mean girls….ah but then the growth and reconnection makes sense. i’ve never been back to a high school reunion and couldn’t begin to tell you where people are or what they do.

    college was where i found lasting, enriching friendships with people from all over the world and in my own backyard. honestly, i got along with guys so much more easily as friends than i did with girls.

    but managing to live through life….that is not to be underestimated.

  11. vagabonde says:

    I read your post with much interest. I just finished a book entitled “Cultural Misunderstandings” explaining the difference in culture between the US and the French – and it is immense, much more than people think. What you wrote proves it to me in a way. I was never so close to girls in school, for example I never had a girl stay overnight or even visit my home, and we never wrote notes about anyone. We had no prom, no football team or any other team in my French high school. At college, I knew hardly anyone as making friends is not easy in France, but never missed it because I was not used to have any. I do not know anyone from my high school or college now. We don’t have “reunions” and no one keeps records. It must not have been fun for you to be with these types of people – I can see that looks are big in the US, in my school the “in” type was the super intellectual, the one who could philosophize easily, or read a lot – so different! Looks were not so important then.

  12. Ann in NJ says:

    I was never in the “in” group (too tall, too big, too smart) but was lucky enough to have found enough kindred souls along the way to not experience such outright cruelty as your note. But my best friend in high school (male) confided to me one slightly drunk night that I would have been his girlfriend if I weren’t fat. Ouch. However, I am still on my first marriage and he’s on his second (that I know of), and I wish him no ill at this point.

    I’ll admit to being highly amused that “tall” was such an offense – I am close to 6ft in all but the thinnest of soles, as are most super models!

  13. Meg says:

    The universality of these “finding your own peeps” experiences is astonishing to me. I can still feel my own heartache from long ago. As I watch my daughters deal with mean girl shenanigans, I want to grab those girls and shake them. But I stop myself. Mostly due to fear of legal reprisal. I keep telling my daughter that she will find her tribe, it just may take effort and time.

  14. Meg says:

    By the way, Olay makes a nice cream that will address the “hairiness” issue.

  15. kmkat says:

    I also had a junior high *experience*. My school was tiny, only about 30 kids in my grade. One day the cool girls — all four of them — decided not to talk to me any more. Bam. Happily, we moved a year later and found better friends.

  16. Sharyl says:

    What a wonderful post, and I’m over the top impressed that you still have that note. You’re such a gifted writer and a strong person. And that quote from your first roommate is a jaw dropper.

  17. pam says:

    My parents were part of the “Parents and Friends” committee of my ‘girls only’ high school – the parents were all close and socialized frequently, throwing we girls, who couldn’t stand each other, together. Very awkward.
    We were in different year levels to start with, which was an area not to be transgressed, and embarrassing.
    Life takes strange twists and turns however – the most aloof and ‘cool’ elder girl who had an older boyfriend at the time, and found it beneath her to talk to us, married him. He died at a tragically young age a decade later from cancer.
    A friend, Narelle found herself one of the reluctant daughters in this parents social group. She was very fashionable (I never had the money to be in that group with clothes, records, dances, make-up and fashion), I was bookish and my parents figured the library was free!- Narelle was in my home class, and friendly and although she was caught up in the boy-crazy dating group of our home class (again, I was too shy) she later married, had two children and a fierce battle with OCD, committing suicide leaving family heartbroken.
    People’s lives digress so much from those teenage years – I am not one for school reunions to find out how, but I know that those I’ve envied at times can be wiped out by an event in their lives – and there are local and national celebrities here in Australia that can attest to the fact that the wave of success can be the same one that dumps you painfully where you don’t want to be.
    My mum berates herself that she was a mean girl, spiteful at times as a pre-adolescent and she still beats herself up about it and she’s in her mid-eighties! I think she’s been trying to make up for it since around the age of 15 or thereabouts!!!
    Wonderful post Jocelyn.

  18. Maria says:

    Ugh.Junior High.I was terrified when my daughter chose a Catholic junior high after a grade school life in a gentle Montessori. Catholic girls can be vicious. She did get some heckling for making the varsity basketball team and causing one very mad girl not to make it. But, she endured, as you did, by just being herself and refusing to be anything else. I was one of the lucky ones. I glided through junior high, senior high, college, med school with ease. And it was all because I would always rather read a book than socialize. I was a self made loner and somehow this made me madly attractive to everyone. Nothing like someone who doesn’t care if you like them or not to make them want you to like them SO much. Along the way in my life, I have found a very small circle of friends. A friend from med school who now has a partner, a woman who I met when we both volunteered as kindergarten lunch ladies at the Montessori school that our daughters both attended. In fact, she uttered the name of my blog, except she muttered under her breath, “Just eat your damn cupcake, Richie!” And a few others. But my circle is small. Yours is an ocean! Thank you for this lovely article. It made me ache a little with jealousy at the way you just throw yourself into life so carefree and sure footed.

  19. Friko says:

    As it does, life, with all its relational ups and downs, carried on—and although I didn’t have the tools yet to understand that cruelty and anger are offshoots of pain, and I didn’t really comprehend that the target of vitriol isn’t actually the source of the problem but, rather, a convenient repository for the attacker’s issues, I look back now on the artifacts from those years and see it all plainly. Just look at the interplay of agony and affection, for example, in a yearbook message the head note-writer later penned:

    Sorry, I don’t usually do that, but that paragraph has gone straight to a wounded heart.
    Mine. If what you say is true, then maybe I found an explanation for what happened to me very recently.

    As for you and your experience? You’ve moved on. Moving on feels good.

  20. pia says:

    Wow Jocelyn brilliant.

    I thought I was the most unpopular girl who ever lived in junior high. Later I learned so much about the girls and their insecurities. Much later, sadly.

    I did look like a model in college. It made me very popular. I loved it and distrusted it as the same time.

    But they really liked me because I too was kind and apparently it showed. Still I was scared of my own shadow to be clichesh.

    We all knew each other through our 30’s–lived in NY–hung out at the club the boy I briefly married owned.

    Now he’s my mentor.

    They thought I was sweet. Girls thought I was wonderful but I was cruel to people from my past and girls I didn’t like. I spent decades being sad over that. Apparently nobody noticed my cruelty.

    The last thing I am is shy. I like the person I turned into.

    Life is weird.

  21. Deborah says:

    I’ve been pondering your former roommate’s reply for a while, and keep coming back to what might be a different interpretation than yours. If your recollection of what she said is absolutely accurate and she did indeed say ‘these’ people, that puts quite a distance between her and them. As much as she may have wanted to be accepted by them, it leaves some room to suggest that she knew very well how shallow and unjust their judgement of you was.
    I was an outsider for virtually all of my school life (‘too tall’ rings a few bells!) but I think it probably suited my introverted nature. Junior high was when it bothered me the most, and the day after high school ended I felt completely liberated, but I was fortunate not to suffer more than the run-of-the-mill cruelties that kids can visit on their peers. Jeez, the worst I can recall is having somebody snap my bra strap and hiss ‘Flat-chester!’ My university experience was in my home town, so no roommate tales there, which has often made me think I missed out on some essential rite of passage. I love the way this story came full circle – and are you reeeeeeeally an introvert???

    • Jocelyn says:

      I totally agree that my roomie’s phrasing gave away her feelings of that group being “aspirational” for her. When I look back on what I know of her home life before college, I can see the roots of her desire to “fit in” with “the right kind.” We all were what we were, so I don’t condemn her. Age 18 is teetering on that cusp between childhood and adulthood.

      As far as extrovert/introvert goes, I teeter on the cusp there (Do you like this transition from the last point?). I used to be more extroverted; as I age, I see more and more of the introvert coming out.

  22. A couple of things that stood out in your post: you still get on with people from secondary school and the closing quote to your beautiful post. I love that quote. It’s not different to what blokes go through but I admit that having met my fair share of girls, having had my fair share of girl friends and having had my fair share of girlfriends (same phrase, different meaning) I know where you’re coming from.

    This is the stuff that gets distributed on smartphones and Blackberries nowadays. I’m glad you came through. And I’m also glad your daughter is not going through a similar situation.

    Greetings from London.

  23. Bijoux says:

    I’m sort of surprised that people are surprised that you know what happened to all these girls. It’s called Facebook and class reunions! Anyhoo, I’m more surprised you kept the mean note as I’d have burned the damn thing long ago.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *