Crashing, sinking, drowning. Laid out lifelessly on the floor, feeling worthless and used. Ever felt like that? Ever felt like the entire world is crashing down on you? Like you're sinking into this hole that keeps getting deeper and deeper? Like you're drowning in the faith you've always had and so desperately long to keep, even though it seems like God is against you? Yeah, me too.
My name is Meredith. I’m just an average 15 year old that's been in the same boat as most high school students. For most kids that haven't made it high school yet, you probably think that high school is the best experience of your life. Staying up late, sneaking out, going on dates, and having the freedom that comes with finally being old enough. Well, in some ways you're right. High school will be the time of your life, but if you're like me-or most people for that matter-it will also be the worst time of your life too.
Before I get into my “sob story” about how life is like in high school, I suppose I should introduce myself since we are basically strangers. Like I said, my name is Meredith and I am fifteen years old. I go to the most prestigious school in the city of New Orleans, although people that didn't make it in would probably tell you something else. I’m an athlete, or at least I was until… Well that's story for a different time. And I'm sharing my story with you because I know what you're going through, I trust you, and I want you to know that you're not going through the fight of high school alone. So here goes nothing.. or everything actually.
My story starts on my very first day of high school. I was so happy, yet so nervous to be starting a new chapter of my life. Being my happy-go-lucky, positive self I thought nothing would go wrong and my high school experience would be the best thing in the world. I could not have been more wrong.
The two most important things in high school are probably your grades and your friends. The girls I had been hanging out with when this happened were these two girls I'd known since preschool. We were best friends, or at least I thought we were. When we got to high school, we met new people, but we promised that we would always be best friends and have each other’s backs. How fast promises can be broken..
In high school, who you sit with at lunch, also known as your lunch group, is a very necessary part in the life a teenager both socially and mentally. Being around other people you feel you can be yourself around and express yourself with are important parts in growing up, especially for teenage girls. In the beginning of the school year, my two best friends, Sarah and Abby, and I sat together with a few other girls that we all liked and enjoyed being around. Things were going better than ever. High school was definitely what I thought it was going to be and I couldn't have been anymore happy with where my life was at the time. I was convinced that nothing could tear me down.
After a few months, in about October, we met new people and decided to try sitting with them for a while. It was a mutual decision, nobody was mad at each other, and we were still super close. This move only lasted a few weeks though. In the middle of November, Sarah, Abby, and I decided to get our group back together. I was honestly so happy, I was going to be back with my girls again. It’s not that I didn't like my new group of friends; I did, very much. We just wanted different things, we were going in different places, and we just didn't click as well as we thought we would. With the decision I made to leave came a long of anger. The other girls were extremely mad and upset that I would dare leave their group. It was really strange because they knew that we didn't want the same things. I wasn't saying I didn't want to be friends with them anymore; I just decided that it was best if we went separate ways. Those friendships ended very abruptly and harshly, but I didn't care because I was back with Abby and Sarah and that's all that mattered, right? Wrong.
Looking back now, maybe those abrupt and harsh ending friendships weren’t the best ideas. Maybe staying with the girls that I didn’t “click” with would’ve saved me a lot of pain. Maybe. But I guess I’ll never know.
October 17th, 2014
I miss you so much! Things are going great. I love high school. I wish you could be here with me; I think you'd be proud of me and who I'm becoming. I'm in the process of leaving one lunch group to go back to my first lunch group with Sarah and Abby. Remember Abby? She came to your funeral. I’m glad we are getting our lunch group back together; I missed sitting with them. I hope everything goes well with it. I miss you more than words can describe and I really wish you could be with me here, while I'm growing up. I love you, Nonnie, don't ever forget it. I’ll write soon.
At this point, I was back in groove with Sarah and Abby. Things were beyond perfect and shortly after the group reunited Abby invited us to spend the weekend with her at her camp. I was so excited to go; I figured that this was what we needed after being apart, even if it was only a few weeks. I figured nothing could tear us apart. Well, I figured wrong.
At the camp, we had a blast. We stayed up late, ate junk food, prank called hot guys, and just enjoyed being together. Everything seemed to be falling back into place, or so I thought. Things were, as I said, going great, but towards the end of our fun something seemed a little strange and it made me quite uneasy. Sarah and Abby seemed to be planning something. Something that wouldn't be good for me. Something that friends wouldn’t do. Oh boy, was I right about that.
October 30th, 2014
What’s going on up there? I miss you. Things are okay down here. I just got back from spending the weekend with Sarah and Abby at Abby’s camp. It was so fun! Now I’m getting ready for school tomorrow. I know I haven’t been in school too long but things are already pretty stressful. It would be a whole lot better if you were here. I love you and I’ll write soon, I promise.
Monday morning, after our weekend at the camp, I could definitely tell something was up. Sarah and Abby were being very distant with me and very close with each other, which was odd because I was closer to both of them than they were to each other. One of the other girls in our group was also being extremely different, but that wasn't too out of the blue because her and I weren't really on good terms anyway. In fact, Alex and I were on the exact opposite of terms: we utterly despised each other. I was determined to figure out what was going on, why everyone was acting so weird. I still am. What went wrong? What did I do? Why did they all of a sudden hate me, especially after spending the weekend together? Almost 2 years later, I’m still trying to figure it all out.
The next few months were extremely rough. We usually spent the hour we had for lunch in silence, well, I spent it in silence. Abby and Sarah always seemed to have something to talk about whether it was boys, dances, football games, whatever. They were even planning a summer trip to Italy together! The other girl, Alex, was also included in all their plans, but not me. Nope, Meredith was suddenly always left out in plain sight.
The months rolled by and things still weren't getting any better until this girl, Tabitha, asked me if she could join our lunch group. I told her that she most definitely could, but I didn't know how much better it’d be. I explained how everything was and she said she'd still try it out. After a few days, she resorted to only sitting with us a couple days a week. All I can say is that those two days a week were what I looked forward to. Even though I didn't really know Tabitha that well, having someone to talk to made things a lot better.. for a little while at least.
December 12th, 2014
Oh gosh, I miss you so much. Things still aren't really getting better with Sarah and Abby. I still don't know what went wrong. On the bright side, this girl named Tabitha started sitting with us some days. I really like those days because I have someone to talk to. Christmas is right around the corner, but so are exams. I wish you were here to celebrate with us. Things aren’t the same without you. I love you.
With the following months, things seemed to be getting slightly better. They were starting to talk to me more and I thought, “Oh maybe it wasn't anything personal! Maybe it wasn't a big deal and everything's going to be okay now.” Well, we can all assume that yes, I was wrong yet again. Very wrong. How very naive thirteen year old Meredith was.
Towards mid-February things were getting bad again, and this worried me a lot because my birthday was right around the corner. At this time I was thirteen and the national anthem of my life was a lyric from the song “The Best Day” by Taylor Swift:
“I'm 13 now and don't know how my friends could be so mean. I come home crying and you hold me tight and grab the keys”
That really hit home because hey, I was thirteen and literally had no idea how my friends could be so mean. And on the other hand, my parents were the ones i’d come home crying to because it seemed they were the only ones who cares. The song itself was a life saver. It gave me hope that no matter how badly people treat you, you can always rise up. If Taylor Swift could go through it and eventually become a country/pop sensation, then surely I could get through it too, right? Hopefully.
I thought, well hoped, that with turning fourteen that song would no longer be my personal national anthem, that I would no longer be able to relate to it. I thought as soon as the clock struck midnight on March 1st things would turn for the better. Little did I know that I would fall uncontrollably, slam into rock bottom, and be left there all alone before I could ever imagine the strength I’d have to bear to bring myself up again.
My birthday finally came around and things totally did not get better as the clock struck midnight. I had a good fourteenth birthday; I remember it vividly. It was a Sunday and I remember waking up really early because I wanted to go to mass so I could start my day with God. When I turned my phone on after mass I had a message from Sarah that plainly read:
“happy birthday, Meredith”
It was better than I had been getting so I guess I shouldn't have expected any more, but I excitedly responded:
“thanks Sarah!! see you tomorrow!????”
I would later find out that was a big mistake, a very big one.
After I went to mass, my parents took me to Outback because that's my favorite restaurant, I mean have you ever tried the Blooming Onion?! We had fun together, like we always do. Mom and dad thought it was really funny when I spilled steak sauce all over my new Ralph Lauren Polo sweater, and I have to admit, it was pretty funny. I smiled so much in that short period of time that anyone who saw us probably thought we were the happiest family in the world.
After outback, my mom took me; my best friend, Becka; and a few of my other good friends to ride all of the rides at city park. My mom even surprised me by inviting my other good friend, Sophie. We had a blast together, and the whole time I didn't even think about what Sarah and Abby had been plotting. Looking back, I guess I should have.
March 1st, 2015
Today was the big day! 14, wow. I can’t believe I’m getting so old so fast. It seems like just yesterday you were strolling me down the halls, singing to help me fall asleep. I can’t believe it’s been almost four years since we’ve been together. I really wish you could’ve been here today! We had so much fun; you would’ve enjoyed it. Things have been going ehh at school, nothing too bad, nothing I can’t handle. I love you so much and I’ll write soon!
Nothing too bad? Nothing I can’t handle? It seemed as if minutes after writing that everything fell apart. I felt like I was my own jinx.
Roughly four days after my birthday, the “bad things” got worse. Sarah and Abby were to the point where they would not even acknowledge my existence. When I would see them in the halls, they would turn their heads the other way. When we were sitting at lunch, not a word was said; however, that was not out of the blue. When we were face to face, the only three people in the vicinity they still refused to talk to me.
It got to the point where I confronted one of my other friends from preschool, Camille, and asked her if I could move to her table for lunch. I explained to her what had been going on and her response was:
“Sorry Mere. Our table is too crowded. I hope everything works with y’all though”
To be perfectly honest there table did have eight people at it so she wasn’t lying to me. I, however; would never tell someone that I consider a friend no to sitting with me knowing she had a hard time. But not everyone is like me. Not everyone lives to make other people happy. So sad.
I was just about done. I was tired of feeling like that. If even by some chance I did do something to them why couldn’t they just tell me? Why did they have to ignore me? The only way that the problem could be solved was if we talked about it. Except they didn’t want the problem solved. No, just wanted me completely out of their life for some bizarre reason that is still unknown to me. With that being said I should have expected the next event to happen. In fact, I did; I just had hope that it would never happen. Well, sometimes you need a little more than hope.
During early October, right as this fiasco was starting, I was playing on my school’s volleyball team when I met this girl name Cristina. She was tall, blonde, and could kill just about any ball set to her. She also happened to be in my homeroom. Neither of us had many friends on the team so one day at practice we started talking to each other. We were both extremely shy at first, but I have to say, talking to Cristina that day at practice was probably the best decision I made my entire eighth grade year. We became closer, started talking more, and even started hanging out on the weekends. She seemed like a good person and I enjoyed her company.
A few weeks after I became an imaginary object to Sarah and Abby it happened. On Friday, March 27th, I walked into the cafeteria from my homeroom to find our table empty. This was strange. Sarah and Abby had homeroom together and it’s right next to the cafeteria. Not even Alex was there. Then suddenly it hit me. One of my biggest fears, one of the most embarrassing things that could happen in high school, the one thing I could feel coming but so desperately tried to prevent: I was left alone at the lunch table.
I hastily looked around, searching for where they could be. My heart was pounding, tears streaming from my face as I look across the table and see Sarah, Abby, and Alex sitting with none other than Camille and her “too crowded” table. Suddenly Tabitha walks up, not realizing what just happened, and asks where they are. I couldn’t find the breath to speak so I simple point one finger towards them. I look past Tabitha and see Cristina walking back to her stop with her lunch. I run to her, still in tears, and grab her hand. She probably didn’t realize what was happening but she just hugged me. Finally I looked up at her and asked if Tabitha and I could sit with her and her friends. She gives me a big smile and says:
“We’d love to have you sit with us. Grab your things and follow me”
Tabitha and I got our stuff and followed Cristina to the stop where her and lunch group ate outside. And that is where I continue to sit almost two years later.
March 24th, 2015
Today the unimaginable happened. Sarah and Abby left me alone at the table. I was so embarrassed because everyone in the cafeteria obviously knew what was happening. It was one of the days Tabitha decided to sit with us so she walked up after a few minutes and saw what happened. It was terrible. Thank god Cristina was walking back with her food. I saw her and she told us we could sit with her and her friends. So that’s where we sat. It hurts so bad. I always thought that they could do this but never would. I’ve never seen so wrong. I wish you were here to help me get through this; I really need you. I love you so much.
Less than a year later
Today is February 5th, 2015. Things are going better than ever, and I can honestly say that this time. I found my place. I found my best friend. Cristina. Tomorrow morning I am waking up at 4:00 a.m. and I am leaving for Disney World with her family, and three other girls in our group. I could never ask for better friend than her. She fixed me when I was broken, and she loved me when I was fixed.
I think this is going to be a great trip. I’ll have my best friend and my other good friends too. I’m so happy I found them. I can’t wait to feel the wind rush through our hair as we dash down Expedition Everest, or our stomachs by our heads as we plummet Tower of Terror.
I guess you could say the whole point of this is to give you the hope that no matter how far down people bring you there is always someone who can bring you up. You just have to give them a chance. Once you get so far down there’s only one other way to go: Up. I love my friends, and I’m sure when you find your people you’ll love them too.
Sarah and Abby leaving me alone at that table on March 24th was the best thing that happened to me. Sure, the pained the cause was unbearable…. at the time. I wouldn’t trade anything for the friendships I have now. I’d definitely go through the pain that Sarah and Abby caused knowing that this is how I’d end up.
Alright, well that’s my high school “sob story”. It might be a better experience than yours, or it might be worse. Whatever the situation is, I just want you to know that it will get better. Everything will get better. You will find your place, you will find your people. Just give it some time.