Throughout high school, I struggled in the friend department. I had plenty of acquaintances but I was a bit odd. I'd rather spend my time at the barn, training for my next show or mucking stalls than attending whatever big high school event going on that weekend, sanctioned or not.
I was involved in high school. I was captain of the cheerleading squad, active in the drama program, a member of the Honor Society. But I never could quite bond with the girls my age. I wanted to, but I could never quite figure out how. I could talk to my horse for hours but girl talk? Not so much.
The summer before my senior year, I bonded with a girl I'd known for a long time. Let's call her 'Maggie.' She'd been going through a lot and given the amount of time we'd spent together organizing all things cheerleading before our senior year, she confided a lot.
When school started, we had a number of classes together as well as the same lunch period. She was a more popular girl but was still just on the cusp of cool girls. Somehow though, we ended up sitting at the same table with them and we all became friends. Or so I thought. There were a couple of the girls who just didn't warm up to me for one reason or another, even though they were friendly with Maggie.
I'll never forget it.
Lunch in hand, I came to sit down at our usual table in my usual seat across from Maggie. As I sat down, she looked at me long and hard, picked up her tray, and moved to the opposite end of the table, leaving me all alone.
I wanted to cry.
But I didn't.
I sat there for what had to be the longest 25 minutes of my life, ate my lunch, finished up some homework, everything I would typically do at lunch, all while tears stung at my eyes. I was determined, though, to stand my ground.
I spent the rest of that semester sitting at another table with a group of girls - and guys - that I still consider friends. I tried really hard to be mad at Maggie, to ignore her and treat her the same way she treated me. But no one else knew what she was going through and I did. Finally, when things reached a boiling point, I slipped her a note of encouragement.
And that was it. Just a short, handwritten note.
We managed a fragile friendship through the remainder of the school year and she wrote a heartfelt note to me in our senior yearbook. After graduation, we went our separate ways.
Years later, she sent me a Facebook message.
She'd found that note while cleaning out her college apartment and wanted me to know how much it had meant back then. She held on to it throughout college and read it once in a blue moon, usually after stumbling across it while looking for something else. She also apologized for that day in the cafeteria.
I've never been able to be mean to another. I just don't have it in me. I can be sassy and bold but I just can't be mean. And I'm so thankful for that.
Maggie is doing well for herself these days. She has a great job a few hours from here and a great group of close friends. Like me, she no longer talks to those girls we so wanted to be friends with in high school. Those same girls have done everything from serve our country to drop out of college and live 'on the system.'
Sometimes, its really hard to be the bigger person. It wasn't easy to reach out to Maggie after she'd hurt me. But I trusted my instincts and knew she needed a friend, even if by paper.
If you have the opportunity to be the bigger person, take it. Even if it means forgiving someone who hurt you deeply. Someday, you'll reap the benefits, in some way shape or form. If nothing else, you will feel better about yourself. And that's priceless.
Happy Tuesday, y'all!