I have a hard time getting over things… cannolis help.

I’ve worn a lot of different uniforms for a lot of different reasons. I played t-ball, soccer, and basketball as a kid. I ran cross country and played soccer in high school. I was in the marching band (the magic of polyester, topped with a big black hat, and a half foot tall sparkling silver tassel to top it off) and marched around the Lincoln High School football field and through parade after parade in the city of Ypsilanti dressed in some seriously crazy stuff.

Please take a moment and enjoy this ridiculous-ness... I'll wait.
Please take a moment and enjoy this ridiculous-ness… I’ll wait.

I also worked at Showcase Cinemas Ann Arbor and wore the uniform for both concessions (again with the polyester, but at least no tassel) and ushering/cashiering (where I swapped out the plastic apron for an additional layer of polyester by way of a vest).

{Source-- omg, you can find anything on the internet!}
{Source— omg, you can find anything on the internet!}

But none of those uniforms compared to the one I didn’t realize I was wearing.

When I was in middle school, I was super uncomfortable with the way I looked. Getting dressed was the worst and I spent hour after hour after hour trying on outfits for school the next day– trying to find the thing in which I looked the least fat (vanity plus insecurity in a 13 year old, good stuff). Unfortunately, there was never an outfit that was good enough and I ended up reverting to the thing I felt most comfortable in: a jacket.

We weren’t actually allowed to wear coats in the school, so that was somewhat problematic because the thing I felt most comfortable in was a sleek running jacket my dad let me borrow. But I managed to outsmart the system. I had gotten the coolest (to me) University of Michigan wind suit set at Meijer and that was the thing I felt most comfortable in. And the jacket, as part of a set, was, at least in my mind, innerwear not outerwear. So I wore it. I wore it pretty much every day, over every stressed-over jeans and t-shirt kind of outfit and with my matching pants at least once a week.

I guess I never really thought about what that jacket looked like to other people. All I knew about that jacket was that I didn’t feel fat in it– and at that time, that was enough.

It was only several years later (like several, several, maybe 10 or so) that I found out that I was being made fun of… pretty much always… by a lot of girls who called my jacket my “uniform.”

Look, there goes Rachel, in her uuuu-ni-foooooo-rm.

Sigh.

I knew I wasn’t a cool kid. I knew there were a lot of mean girls in my school. And I knew better than to think I wasn’t the butt of many of their jokes. But it still hurt. And bad. Even though it’s been a whole lot of years since and I never actually heard it, I frequently think of those comments… those girls… those feelings…

It’s like in Harry Potter when Dumbledore lets Harry gaze into a memory in his Pensieve– it’s so much more than just a memory. It’s an experience, full of feeling. That’s what it’s like in my mind’s eye every… single… time… that memory strikes.

{Source}
{Source}

It struck this morning. I got dressed, I put on a gray turtle neck sweater and black slacks. It’s kind of a go-to outfit for me, but I was feeling pretty ugh about it this morning. I wanted to put that jacket on– to be comfortable. And the memory came back. The mean girls were talking about me behind my back.

But when I walked in to work this morning, my friends were all gathered in one office and busy planning our Italian-fest lunch. I was instantly struck by how much I adore all of these women… not one mean girl in the bunch! When they tease me, it’s totally to my face, and it’s nice to be in on the joke!

I thought about the contrast between the Micheles, Maries, Aimies, and Debs of my life as an adult and the Connies, Kellys, Lauras, and Taras of my past. As we grow up, our community becomes driven more by choice than by circumstance. Today I feel that very poignantly… and I have chosen well (and not just because Marie made us homemade cannolis today… although that’s part of it).

Pure delicious-ness!
Pure delicious-ness!

This afternoon, I ate a lot of Italian-ish deliciousness to say “ciao!” to my friend Marie as she heads off on a two week adventure of a lifetime (to Italy, obviously)… I could have used my jacket. And in my new, friendly girl world, everyone would have said, “There goes Rachel in her comfy jacket— she’s awesome for doing what feels right! Dang!” Because that’s what friendly girls do.

I’m still not a cool kid, but the people I have chosen to surround myself with really don’t care. The facts are these:

  • I have bushy, early-books-in-the-series-Hermione-like hair.
  • I use way too many Harry Potter references.
  • I get nervous around people I like and ramble uncontrollably.
  • I sweat copiously when nervous. And I’m often nervous.
  • I wear the clothes that I feel most comfortable in, stylish or not. (Usually not.)
  • And sometimes I hang on to my magic wand while I’m watching tv or talking on the phone.

But I like my curls (raise the roots!), Harry Potter is sheer genius and I plan to love it and read it again and again for the rest of my life (always…), some people like the way I ramble because it means (1) that they don’t have to do all the talking and (2) they certainly can’t sound worse than me, black is pretty much my favorite color to wear anyway and sweat really doesn’t show, confidence comes from comfort and confidence is always classy (stylish or not), and the wand… maybe that’s just a little bit weird. But it’s fun, I like it, and I really don’t care.

I know I’m 30 years old and I know I should be over it. But words HURT. And I wish I didn’t even know that those words existed. But I do. And I’m going to have to move past it. Especially considering that it’s likely I’ve hurt someone in that same way– we all say hurtful things at times. Especially when we’re young. But I know without a doubt that I’ve grown up to be a much kinder person than that. And I hope that those girls did too.

I hope that they grew up to be kind. I hope that they don’t feel the kind of hurt I still frequently feel when those memories creep up on me. And I hope that if they have children, they’ll help them to be kinder people than they were as kids. That’s my plan for my own someday babies, anyway.

 

Fun fact: the movie Mean Girls is actually based on the book Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman. Tina Fey knew the basic premise of the book, but hadn’t actually read it yet when she won the bid (is that the totally wrong terminology???… perhaps the rights? the opportunity? the chance? something?) to write the movie script. Fascinating, right?! I fully intend to read this book… eventually. It’s on my “Women’s Interest” book club reading list. Its the fourth book club on my list of “Book Clubs I Want to Start” because I really am that girl of all the characteristics listed above.

 

PS: I know these posts about getting made fun of, and perhaps what might be considered “bullied” this day and age, can be something of a downer. I really don’t want you to think it was all bad though. I really did have some great friends all throughout elementary, middle, and high school (see Emily, Kelly, Stephine, et al) and despite (literal) wedgies in the hall (I really wish that weren’t true) and the occasional overheard negative comment or two, I was a happy kid having a good time at my school. I cheered for the Railsplitters, I played on the teams, I went to the dances, and painted my face for pep rallies. All American kind of stuff. It’s just impossible to extract the mean girl (and boy!) stuff from all of that and unfortunately, as an insecure chubby girl, a lot of that is what really stuck.

 

PPS: Ok, I actually wasn’t even chubby. Not after like 8th grade anyway. I just thought I was and let people tell me I was. But from where I sit now, dang, I was svelte!! (Kidding, I just looked up svelte and it means “slender and elegant”… I was slender, not elegant. But svelte sounds so good there, all italicized, doesn’t it? Let’s just leave it and move on.)

18 thoughts on “I have a hard time getting over things… cannolis help.

  1. Rachel…sometimes this blog makes me feel like we are back at school chatting. I wish I could take the pain of those memories (and a few million more from grad school) away, but they you might not be the amazing person and friend I know and love. You are incredibly k kind hearted. Though your title took me back to a very specific memory of all of having dinner with prospectives and you and Steph were flip-floppong food and Deb and were….and I don’t remember the comment but we all died laughing over the cannolis. Knowing us, it was stupid, but isn’t the joy of life finding the happy in a bunch of random stupid moments? Thank you for sharing in so many of those moments!!!

    1. You have definitely recalled some very vague and obscure memories about grad school– I definitely recall the feeling of laughter, but really can’t remember why… seriously, lots of fun times! I was so ready to be done, done, done, but in all honesty, there were a lot of good things… and good friends made!

  2. Rachel! Have I mentioned that I absolutely adore you? And that not only are we alike now, we apparently had many similarities starting much earlier: exchange your blue in the band uniform for green and drum for saxophone, and the exact words you still remember for some other ones and well….. You have me ;). I love that you are so honest about this stuff. You aren’t alone in this! Even the mean girls had mean girls so really we’re all the same- it’s how you choose to deal with it. And you know how I feel already about the power of words…. So just “yes” to this whole post 😉

    1. I love your point about mean girls having mean girls! It’s so true– even fleas have fleas, or so the saying goes. I remember not really getting that until I was in grad school when I learned about bacteriophages– I mean, viruses that infect bacteria?! What the?! But it’s true– there’s always something that can hurt you, no matter how big or how small. I like to think I’ve dealt with my phage by developing resistance 😉

  3. Well, you might not have felt elegant, but you were most definitely svelte. The mean girrrrls were and are only one perspective. I’ve been considering this for decades – it’s my conclusion (at least in my nerdy life) that the mean girrrrls got it wrong. Admittedly it took me much too long to get there.

  4. Rachel, no matter how old you get (and I’m old enough to be your mother), words still hurt! But you, my dear, are so totally awesome. I am so blessed to work with such wonderful people. I wouldn’t trade the Michele, Aimie, Deb, and Rachel (!) that I work with now, for a million of the Tami’s, Debi’s, Peggy’s, and Brenda’s who made fun of me in all MY awkwardness all those years ago. And I agree with your Aunt Susan…the mean girls definitely got it wrong!

  5. Oh wow, our old band uniforms! Now that you mention it, that tassel IS horrible! Now I am feeling embarrassed for myself in retrospect!

    I wonder who were those mean girls that said you had a “uniform,” that’s terrible. Did someone just happen to mention 10 yrs later that this happened? That person should have kept quiet, no offense, because what good does it do now, right? Unless you have a time machine and could go back in time and rip apart those girl’s outfits, which, if it was in the 90s, would be very easy to do!

    I have a similar experience, although I’m not as embarrassed or hurt, with our soccer team. I’ve told Emily this story too recently. I just realized 10 yrs later (more for the fact that I’m a little slow than that someone didn’t tell me) that my “Girly-girl” award at our soccer banquet was making fun of me, specifically my run-like-a-fairy soccer style. When I received the award the girls told me “girly-girl, because your hair is always so perfect!” and I thought that was a weird reason but didn’t think too much about it. Now as an adult I put two and two together that I was running on the field like a ballerina, ie. a freakin’ weirdo. It makes me laugh, but I get embarrassed when I think of how I must have looked during games. I guess the point of all this is, we’ve all been there!

    1. Good news, Kacey! As a Lincoln lifer like myself, I can say to you that I did not change a single name, and that and your powers of deduction should suffice as a key to the puzzle!

      I totally agree that it wasn’t something someone should have told me, but in all honesty, I don’t think it was meant to be hurtful. They’d had 10+ years to process it and get over the hurt, and most likely didn’t think about how much it would sting being the first time I’d heard it.

      And I’m so sorry that you were being made fun of with those soccer awards– I hated those things! And I was far too self-centered and worried about my own award that was for something like “heart” or something, which really just meant “you pretty much suck, but thanks for trying so hard…” So… there’s that. As my friend Dawn said though, even mean girls have mean girls, so truly… we have ALL been there!!!

  6. I am just reading this post today (obviously I am catching up on multiple posts today) and can totally relate to this entire post. Although, unfortunately I feel like I have gotten more aware of my awkwardness recently. Which seems to make it harder for me to connect to new people. Regardless, I am working through it. But what’s so strange is that just last night I had a dream that I (and some of our less-cool high school friends) were invited on a vacation with some of the above-mentioned “mean girls” (or cool girls depending on who you are). And we were all so excited and were having so much fun, until we realized they only invited us so they could make fun of us. I woke up feeling so sad. I don’t know where that dream came from (maybe some underlying insecurity mixed with seeing recent facebook posts related to a wedding). Anyway, just wanted to let you know you are definitely not alone. And this post cheered me up. And makes me miss you.

    1. SO glad that you’re dream came before you read this post because I’d have felt terrible if I thought my blog were inducing nightmares!

      I love that you can relate! In my book, a book that I’m sure counts for very little, you were the coolest girl I knew in high school and you will always be friend, no matter what! And you even have full permission to make fun of me, because I know you always want to laugh with me, not just at me 🙂

      I saw those pictures all over Facebook too and cringed and felt insecure and thought to myself “whhhhhyyyyyyy do you do this to yourself???” because they’re the cool ones, and yet, they friended me (because would I have sent the request to a cool kid– course not!) so where is this insecurity coming from. Here’s the truth: you were gorgeous on your wedding day and so was every single one of your bridesmaids, who are all your true and good and real and decent and happy and honest friends. Same goes for me! That’s what matters, really, now that we’re all grown up.

      But you and Lupin are absolutely, positively right– when those bad feelings creep up as though a dementor were trying to suck away all your happiness, chocolate is definitely the cure!

      Want to know a secret??? The second I find out I’m pregnant (if I ever am) I am going to start reading the Harry Potter series out loud to my belly. It’s going to be awesome. In the event I have to fly to China and pick up a super sweet little girl, I’ll just have to do it on the plane on the way home… either way! 😉

      1. Miles and I are already finishing the first book. It’s cool to be reading it aloud (out loud?). It makes me go slower and have time to process every word.:) Never too young to start.

  7. And I forgot to mention that I ate chocolate-covered pretzels this morning, which definitely also made me feel better! I learned from Remus Lupin that chocolate is magical! 🙂

  8. I’m really behind, just catching up myself, but figured I’d comment on this anyway. I’ve got two things:

    1.) Remember when you were my soccer coach? I have no idea how old I was, but I do remember that we were still playing in the fields behind Later/Brick elementary. I made fun of a teammate who had large canine teeth, I called him a vampire and YOU BROUGHT THE RAPTURE DOWN UPON ME. …at least that’s how it seemed in my elementary mind. I think about that incident a lot, especially when I have that itching desire to mock somebody (solely for humor’s sake!), it keeps me in check.

    The second thing is related in a way, I think, for the reason that that incident had such a profound effect on me:

    2.) In the eyes of a little brother AN OLDER SIBLING IS ALWAYS THE F***ING COOLEST. I thought you were the hottest shit. All the way through. I still listen to some Dido and Alanis Morisette and Meridith Brooks and whatnot because you listened to it and that made it cool. It’s the reason I am able to belt those tunes out at the top of my lungs in the car with absolutely no shame, no matter what kind of looks and laughs Steph throws my way.

    Perspective!

  9. Also, pretty weird title when read by somebody who never ever encounters the written word “cannolis.” (I read it in my head like Abs read “en masse” out loud that time at Grandma’s).

    Love you!

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