Community Over Cliques
Don’t you just love the English language, how we can so easily turn a word from a simple definition into a cultural cuss word. As soon as you hear the word clique I’m sure vivid images come to mind, whether it’s a memory of a moment you felt excluded or maybe a scene from Mean Girls is playing in your mind. In rushes waves of feelings, and usually not pleasant ones.
Mine are flashbacks to middle school. The further removed I get from that age the more wisdom I gain. But at the time I wanted to run as fast and as far away as I could! I’ve learned that every single one of us felt awkward as a pre-teen. There are zero people who escaped that age without some battle wounds. For me it was a group who we infamously called the Megan’s. Each day at lunch I would sit, just on the cusp of their group, wondering how they could ignore my eyes pleading with them through purple-rimmed glasses to just belong. I guess my ESP powers weren’t as strong as I had hoped. Not worthy, excluded, weird, not enough are all lies I told myself. It was first encounter with a clique and it set the course for my view of female friendships for a long time. Saddest of all was I had a small group of girls who cared deeply for me, and the message I was sending them was exactly what I was feeling myself. You aren’t as valuable as the popular girls. Your friendship isn’t as worthy.
I feel confident in saying that if I tracked down these girls who I thought hung the moon, they would each tell me a version of the same story I told. That they too felt isolated at times and just wanted to fit in.
Oh how I wish I could whisper into the heart of each 11 old, you’re enough.
In high school I wanted to be it all - the athlete, the church girl, the smart girl. In each group I felt inadequate. To the athletes my stats didn’t feel good enough. To the church girls I didn’t feel pure enough. To the honor students I didn’t feel like my test scores were high enough. Now I realize, after bandaging up those wounds with a lot of love, that the things that make me me are some of the most valuable things I possess.
How did I find that healing? Through community. My community lifts each other up in acceptance and wears the jewels of inclusion.
Its time to replace the word clique with community. Inclusion doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We can be a little sporty, a little preppy, sprinkled with some gamey and topped with some artsy. When we build community there is always a seat at the table. I want this to be the generation that stops building walls and starts building tables big enough for everyone, always ready with a hammer and nails to keep adding more room. Big goals I know, but that same unworthy pre-teen girl who looked from the outside in now knows the view is better surrounded by others.