The Art of Fitting In

Dear Soph-
This may come as a shock to you, but your mom was never part of the “in” crowd.

(I’ll pause so you can pick up your chair, which you no doubt knocked over in utter shock and disbelief)

It’s true, kid, I couldn’t be classified as “popular.” And while I can’t exactly say that as a young girl in junior high and high school the thought didn’t cross my mind that being popular had its merits, I never went out of my way to try and be the “it” girl. I gave it a shot, I suppose. I was a cheerleader in junior high and on the pom squad in high school. So I was always somewhat associated with those who ranked higher on the popularity scale. And while I genuinely enjoyed being a cheerleader, I never became real friends with many of my fellow teammates. I was too socially awkward. It felt like a lot of pressure to me. I often found myself trying hard to put on a persona…someone I thought these girls would like or be able to relate to. But, to be perfectly honest, I found that changing myself to try and meld into their world was simply exhausting. And not worth the trouble.

I’ll paint you a picture that sums up your adolescent mom:

There I was in eighth grade. Out of the blue, Pam (a member of the elite) called and asked if I want to go shopping with her, Julie and Rachel. WHAT?! Pam wanted ME to go shopping with HER? At first I thought she was playing a prank on me, but then I thought…Hallelujah! What on Earth will I wear? All was going well on the car ride to the mall, until Rachel noticed that she, Pam and Julie were all wearing the same shoes. Some sort of brown, leather, lace-up ankle boots. Everyone in the car then looked at my shoes to see if I was continuing the trend, only to be disappointed to see my white Keds sneakers. They laughed at me. “Keds? Who wears Keds anymore?” they asked incredulously. Pam turned up her nose as if I had tracked dog poop throughout her mom’s car.

I didn’t quite know what to say…so I said nothing. I was embarrassed. Their scrutiny and judgment made me uncomfortable. I had already failed at fitting in and we hadn’t even gotten to the mall yet. But in that moment, instead of thinking I needed to run home and beg my mom to buy me those leather lace-up ankle boots so as to save me from future humiliation, I thought “well this will be the last time I go shopping with these bitches.”

Ultimately I found acceptance by the most amazing, intelligent, supportive, funny and loving group of guys and girls. I remember high school fondly because of those friends. And while we may not have been the “it” crowd, I think we had more fun.

So here’s what I learned and what I want to pass along to you. Don’t try so hard. You will fit in where you are easily accepted and where you can be yourself. You will fit in with people who are like-minded…who find joy in the same things…whose friendship is effortless. You should not have to jump through hoops or do anyone’s bidding or try to impress anyone into liking you. You are awesome. Period. And if someone doesn’t realize that, then it’s 100% their loss.

You are perfect just the way you are. You are worthy just the way you are.

And no matter who your friends are, popular or not, I will take every opportunity to embarrass the hell out of you when you are with them.

Love, Mom

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