This article contains opinion.
If it was possible to go back in time and slap myself into reality, I would have done it a long time ago.
In high school, I was a pretty relatable person, but my social circle stayed relatively small. I was described as a social butterfly by a few faculty and staff members at the high school, but what they were unaware of was the introvertive forcefield that engulfed me for all four years.
I credit the ability to put on a face of acceptance to high school theater, since it taught me how to put on a face to entertain those around me.
The reason I was so introverted was because of the difference in my character and the characters of the rest of the student population. This may seem like a cop-out, but allow me to dive into the more pressing reasons for this.
Let’s begin in my freshman year when I had a sizeable friend group. We would always get together on Fridays with campfires and the other cliché activities friends do.
However, due to the fun, I didn’t realize that this would lead to turmoil down the road.
This group welcomed my high school bully, who had been giving me trouble since fifth grade. This kid would kick me, harass me and he even gave me a concussion at one of our get-togethers. When I brought this up to the other guys, they gave the fake indication that this was intolerable, and they wouldn’t let him hang around us anymore.
Do I even need to say that this was, in fact, a lie.
While he still hung around us, I never separated myself from them since my craving for acceptance got the best of me. Moreover, in my high school, if you found a group within a few weeks of your freshman year, there was no switching groups.
For four years I endured a very toxic friendship with these guys. When I would try to leave, I was dragged back in by lies, false hopes, etc., and I was blind to it all.
I would often get bullied by them in school, but when I brought it to our assistant principal, nothing happened, leaving me to endure this with no road to take.
When I finally graduated high school, I put my foot down and ended this connection with these guys.
Following months of no contact, I received a text from my friend, whom I met at college, saying a suspicious Twitter account followed them and shared a link for a YouTube video that was targeted to make fun of me.
After doing some investigating, I discovered it was the group of guys from high school that created and published the video.
When I contacted the one who I associated with the most, he denied everything, even when I brought up that the video was under his personal YouTube account.
I blocked him, as well as the others, on all platforms, and since then, I haven’t said a word or directed a breath in their direction.
In my junior year, I was at the pinnacle of apathy. I was stuck in the lull of wanting to graduate while having a good distance from it.
I befriended two guys (separate from the group above) who were pretty quiet and kept to themselves.
We hit it off pretty well since we shared two classes together as well as the interest of becoming YouTuber gamers, but for some reason, our friendship only lasted two years.
Following graduation, we planned on hanging out around Thanksgiving break, but when I initiated the plans, one of them suggested that he and the other guy hang out separately. I was a bit distraught at this, but I realized we all had to do what we had to do.
But here is where I got a bit upset: I messaged them once again as break drew closer, and he still seemed like he didn’t want to associate with me. He told me that I wouldn’t like what he and the other were doing so we couldn’t get together.
To me, this sounded like the end of the road for us. He never once told me if he had an issue and we always got along, so ending it out of nowhere rattled me.
This is what really sealed my opinion of high school friendships.
I must admit, however, that through this, I’ve made great strides in overcoming toxic social situations.
I know the red flags to look for when seeking friendship, and I found resources to take my mind off of these things, one being musical theater.
I always tell my parents that, had it not been for musicals, I would have either transferred or switched to cyber school.
Being in theater taught me how to put life aside for a bit while I brought entertainment to the public. I was able to showcase my talent, while putting on a face that wasn’t mine.
Instead of Jake Slebodnick, I was Bun Foo (from “Thoroughly Modern Millie”) or Major Shelley (from “The Secret Garden”). Not being myself, oddly enough, gave me a glimmer of happiness in high school.
Where does this tie in?
The point I’m making isn’t don’t be yourself. The point, or points, is to throw away those toxic friendships and find something that makes you enjoy life.
I’ve found it easier to cut negative friendships than suffer through them, since it made me feel like a new person.