I was in grade 9 and at that point in time school was my world. I didn't have a job, I didn't have a steady girlfriend, and I didn't belong to an out of school club. School was all I had.
We Used to Be FriendsThe story of me and the girl who called me a loser is long and tangled. I'll call her Kelly, but that isn't her real name. We grew up four doors down from one another and played together all the time until grade 6 when we went to middle school. Middle school is when everything changed.
Kelly grew very pretty while I stayed clumsy and awkward looking. We did not hang out with the same crowds at school. Yet everyday after school she would show up at my house as if school didn't exist. She always acted as if nothing had changed. She told me we were still friends and that nothing that happened at school could ever change our friendship. Stupid me, I believed her!
Then Everything ChangedAbout three months in to grade 7 everything did change. Kelly came over to my house with a sad look on her face. She didn't talk much, which was weird because Kelly was a talker. When my Mom asked her if she wanted to stay for dinner Kelly burst in to tears. Kelly's parents were getting a divorce and she was devastated. They were arguing and she just didn't want to go home.
My Mom called Kelly's house and arranged for her to stay the night in my sisters room. Since my parents and Kelly's parents were close my Mom offered to let Kelly stay as a gesture of family friendship. Given the stress in the family Kelly's Mom was grateful for the offer.
That night Kelly snuck in to my room. She cried on my shoulder and told me her world was falling apart. She told me all sorts of things about the kids she was friends with and the stuff they were in to and said that they would never understand why her family was splitting up. She was afraid her friends would turn on her.
She said that she was afraid the divorce would tarnish her image and that she wouldn't ever be able to recover. She told me that I was the only person she could trust at school, the only one she could turn to. She basically spilled her guts. Then Kelly kissed me.
Rumors Killed Our FriendshipThe rumors started flying the next day when Kelly and I walked in to the school together. Our out of school friendship was not common knowledge and people were surprised to see us together. Her friends started to bug her about being seen with me. That is when everything between us changed.
At lunch somebody passed me a note. "Don't tell anyone we kissed," it warned. It was typed and unsigned so there was no way to be sure it came from Kelly. I thought it might be a joke so I threw it away. But somebody saw me toss it in the trash can and picked it up. The secret was out and by the end of the day everyone knew about our kiss.
Kelly was livid. In her mind she had a dubious choice to make. She could tell people about the divorce or let everyone think that she secretly liked me. Kelly was popular and I was not. She had a difficult decision to make but I had faith in our friendship. I was wrong.
Kelly decided to tell her friends all about her parents divorce. She said that I knew because our parents were friends and that I had taken advantage of her when she was vulnerable. I looked like a jerk and our friendship was officially over.
Life After the RumorsAlmost two years went by and Kelly and her followers treated me like dirt. Don't feel bad for me. I had friends, even girlfriends and I was happy with my life. When Kelly and her friends taunted me I just ignored them.
To the outside world it seemed that I didnt care how they treated me. I didn't really care that they taunted me but I hated it that a friend had turned on me for the sake of her reputation. Secretly, I vowed to make her sorry that she had turned on me. I was a man on a mission. How could I make Kelly see how wrong she had been to turn on a real friend?
The day she drove by in the red YJ was the last day that Kelly ever taunted me. Two weeks later, school shut down for summer and I started to put my plan in to motion. I was determined to return to grade 10 a changed man. It was a little bit of nature, a little bit of effort, and a lot of luck that during that summer I changed a lot.
How I Turned the Tables
Over the summer I lost the scrawny awkwardness that had plagued me since 7th grade and I actually looked pretty good. I met a really cool girl who became my girlfriend, had some fun, made new friends and went back to school with a confidence that I lacked before. I became one of those kids who could hang out with almost any crowd. I was everybody's friend. That was my new reputation and I liked it.
I refused to do what Kelly had done to me and turn on my old friends. I was popular now but I was still me. People respected me for this. At the same time I fit in pretty much everywhere. Kelly definitely noticed and tried to rekindle our friendship a few times but I wasnt interested.
Kelly eventually apologized but I never wanted her friendship back. I told her that she should not try to make herself feel better by putting others down. Nothing else really needed to be said. Living well was the best revenge.
I'm glad that I changed my image. I'm glad that I went to the trouble to shake a bad reputation. I enjoyed grade 10 more then any other school year and I learned that no reputation is written in stone. I changed my loser image without changing who I was inside. If you want to you can do it too!