The worst feeling

August 31, 2016 0 Comments

Every summer as a kid, I would spend two weeks with my grandmother in Maryland.  She would always sign me up for camps…there was tennis camp, art camp…she even sent me to farm camp. “I have to milk what??” Yep…city girl.

But it’s the gymnastics camp I remember the most.  I was in 3rd grade and I was nervous to go.  That’s the one thing a lot of people don’t realize about me…as loud and outgoing as I am, I get anxious walking into a room full of strangers.  And this gymnastics camp is the reason I’m like that.

I remember walking into the gym…all I can hear was a lot of laughter and talking.  I looked around and saw SO many girls my age.  They all looked the same…had really long ponytails or a cool French braid.  I was always jealous of those girls.  Without my mom knowing, my Dad took me to his BARBER to get my hair chopped off. His BARBER. So yeah…I had a boy’s haircut. It was awful.

As it was time to line up and wait to hear our name called out, I heard whispering and I saw a lot of finger pointing.  “Who is that? She looks so weird? Why is she even here? Look at her hair!” Yep. The pretty girls with the enviable hair were talking about me…and they were making fun of me.

I had that sick feeling in my stomach…like someone punched me.  I remember my face feeling like it was on fire…it looked like a tomato…I was just so embarrassed and humiliated.  These girls who I didn’t even know were making fun of me.  At 8-years-old I didn’t understand it at all.

So while those girls all huddled together on the mats during lunch time.  I tried to get in on one of those circles but the girls moved to sit closer together…blocking me out.  So I sat off in a corner by myself.  I remember lifting the napkin out of my brown paper lunch bag that my grandmother packed and I saw her handwriting: “Have fun! Love, Gramma.”  Ughh…I wanted to have fun. But I felt so lonely…I was hating every minute of it.

But then there was the dance competition near the end of the week. Long-story short,  I won this dance-off and got a little ribbon and some praise from the coaches…then suddenly, all of the “cool girls” wanted to talk to me. They wanted me to eat with them…they wanted to get to know me…they were telling me how “good” I am.

Yep. The same girls who made fun of my hair…who made fun of my clothes…who laughed hysterically when I fell off of the balance beam…who literally turned their backs on me when I tried to say hi…the ones who would walk away when I walked up to them.  Yep. Those same girls now wanted to be my friend.

My grandmother told me, “They sound like spray butter in a can.”  I said, “Huh?” “Fake Mandy. They are fake.”

So…I decided to eat by myself.

It was in that moment…at the age of 8-years-old…that I realized what ugly really looks like.

It was in that moment I realized…it’s better to be alone…then surrounded by anyone who is fake.

It was in that moment that I would eventually realize…never surround yourself with people who let opportunity control their loyalty.  If you can’t do anything for them…would they still be your unconditional friend?

My heart hurts knowing that there are kids sitting by themselves at lunch.  I remember that lonely feeling…there is nothing worse than being excluded.

I was 8-years-old a LONG TIME AGO.

And I still remember that feeling…vividly. That hurt never goes away.

Let’s continue to remind our kids it costs nothing to be kind…but it means more than the world.



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