I have three teenage daughters and as they face the challenges inherent in being teenagers, I seem to be reliving those times in my own life. My eldest is a rising senior and as she looks with anticipation toward college and a very bright future, I feel her anxiety. Will she get into the college of her choice? What will she major in? Will she miss her high school friends. Will she be able to make new friends in college? The future is full of possibilities and uncertainty, hope and fear, promise and possible disappointments. I remember it like it was yesterday.
My younger two daughters are still in the midst of being teenage girls with all the challenges of maintaining healthy friendships. As I think back to high school and all the cattiness that was just a part of growing up, I can relate to the stories of discord that they share. Of course I am sure every mother sees her daughter as the victim, the one who is just misunderstood. I am sure my girls are not the sweet, innocent, bystanders I make them out to be. None of us would ever want to admit our children are the perpetrators behind the unkind behavior. But, as I feel their pain of being the victim, I also remember the times I was the one causing the pain.
I grew up in a very small town. I had pretty much the same grouping of friends from the day I was born until the day I graduated High School. Yes, that is us above at our junior prom. We all just moved through the years from one clique to the next. I eventually landed in the “brainy/semi-popular” clique. I was friends with the cheerleaders and the Homecoming queen but I was never center stage. I learned early on that drama seemed to be directed toward whoever was in the middle of circle and being on the periphery was preferable.
While I truly had little to do with all the drama, I did do some things I am ashamed of to this day. Like the time I stood by while one friend beat another friend, or the time I shared gossip about a friend that was ugly and hurtful. Those times I was untrue to a friend still haunt me nearly 30 years later. I am sure the friends I hurt have long ago forgiven and forgotten about the incident, yet I have not. Anytime we are untrue to who we truly are, we injure ourselves more than we injure those our behavior was directed at.
So here it goes – Beth, Heather, Kristi, Jill, Marion, Connie, Brenda, Sandy, and our sweet departed sister Janet: I am sorry. I am sorry for not being the friend you deserved in high school. I am sorry for any gossip I repeated. I am sorry for any opportunity I had to defend you and did not. I am sorry that I cared more about fitting in than I did about being a faithful friend. It is with tears streaming down my face that I say “Please, forgive me.” I was blessed to have you all as friends. Of course there were many other wonderful girls and a few boys whom I had the privilege of calling friends through the years but the nine of you impacted me more than any others.
As I listened to my girls share their friendship woes this week, I realized that many of their challenges would be solved if they or their friends would simply learn to say “I’m sorry.” I know through the years, I have been a lousy role model in this department. I am stubborn, selfish and prideful – diseases that are prevalent in our society. So, I wonder what would happen if all the adults started modeling humility, grace and forgiveness. Could we change the teen culture? I know, that is a stretch but you all know I am dreamer.
Hope you all have a good weekend and that you spend it with good friends and if you have a chance, you might want to reach out and say “I am sorry” even if it is 30 years too late.