Twelve and thirteen-year old girls don’t really fit in anywhere. But, hey, that’s not any big news, right? Anybody who’s ever known a preteen girl is aware of that fact.
But twelve and thirteen-year old girls can be cruel in spite of, or maybe because of the insecurities they carry. Maybe we’re so cruel to the other nervous little girls because we don’t know how to get over our own insecurities.
I don’t know the why or the how. But I do know this: rejection hurts. Whether it’s a formal rejection, being turned down for a job or for a theater production or something big and pulled together, or whether it’s more personal, like being told-without-actually-being-told that you’re not welcome somewhere. Being excluded. Being turned away. Being told you aren’t good enough based on race or gender or social status or religion or –
“You’re not welcome here” is a really difficult thing to be told, especially when you’re young. When you’re so desperate for everyone to like you, to love you, to accept you. When you don’t know your place in the world. When you think that maybe you don’t have a place.
When you’re lost and you don’t have a home.
That was me. A Lost Girl, and not the Peter Pan kind, although I guess that might fit too if you stretch and twist the details in just the right way. It felt like no matter who I molded myself into, nobody really wanted to be my friend. I wasn’t outgoing enough for the “cool” girls but I wasn’t quite smart enough for the “nerds” and I definitely wasn’t holy enough to hang out with the girls in the youth group outside of Wednesday nights or coordinated events.
Maybe I read into things too much. Maybe I did it to myself, by either trying too hard or not hard enough. Maybe I projected it into the situation after a while because it was what I expected.
I’m the type of person who wants desperately to be liked, loved, wanted. I want attention; I thrive on attention, and I’ve always gotten a lot of it, but it wasn’t always in the places that I thought I needed it, although I know now that it was always exactly the right words at the right time from the right person.
They were words from adults, from my family and my teachers and my friend’s parents. It was loving-kind words from the front seat of a Suburban, words that uplifted and encouraged. It was gentle hugs from leaders in the church, hugs and prayers during fellowship, “Hello Sunshine”s as I walk by. A few minutes taken before a piano lesson for tear-filled eyes and shaky laughter because my teacher remembered what it was like to be young; she remembered the heartache and hurts and difficulties.
So maybe I was rejected by the younger groups. By my peers and the teenagers that I wanted to know and be close to.
But I treasure the words and love that I received from all of these adults, all of the people who were so heavily invested in me, more than I think I would ever have appreciated the sleepovers and shopping sprees that I would have gotten with the other group.
I’ve kind of learned, or I’m trying to learn, to view rejection a different way. Because it isn’t ever easy, even when you keep in mind, “the answer is no because there’s something better ahead.”
But it’s easier to think about it that way. God only closes a door to open another, you know.
I guess the point to this is that maybe there was a reason. Maybe there was a reason for the stinging eyes and hurting heart.
I just have to find it.