Somehow I made it all the way into my 30s before I experienced the world of female cliques. That came to a screeching halt in 2011, and the stories I share now literally make some people’s jaws drop.
I made it so long in my state of bliss because of a number of factors.
My home town had Norman Rockwell-like aspects. One Main Street where the storefronts resided, two churches, a town grocery store, and one school for K-12.
In my childhood, I was surrounded by families where the parents were equally as good of friends as the kids.
Then I attended a fantastic private Christian college where people were genuinely kind, good, and loving.
I even fared well moving to Chicago. I think because you get lost in the large size of it….. and can pick and choose who you get together with when. You don’t know what you don’t know…. 😉 and who’s getting together with who - eight neighborhoods away.
But then. We moved to the burbs, the kids began school, and the awful playground scenes began to take place. And I’m not talking about the children. I’m talking about those mom circles that would gather before and after school.
I remember one day trying to join in the conversation and meet some new ladies, but I had my double stroller, and couldn’t find a non-awkward way to join in. And nobody budged. It was like a force field keeping me at a distance.
Whether or not it was meant to, the circle sent a message.
From there, full-out clique-dom began to occur. I’d come to the street corner at the same time as a couple of other families and would literally be squeezed out of walking space on the sidewalk and stroll the rest of the way to school staring at their backs. Day. After. Day.
I have a number of other stories to share that if I were to explain details you would pull an Elaine from Seinfeld and give me a good shove and say “Get. Out!”
I’m not here to get into the nitty gritty of it. I’m here to let you know that I’ve experienced cliques in an in depth way, but have learned a few things that I’d love to pass along.
First, I’m not an idiot. Well, sometimes I am, but in regard to friendships, I’ve always had the ability - if you’d call it that - to make friends easily. And I DO know when I’m genuinely not wanted and can take a hint and move on.
But there have been times when I’ve refused to give up. Where I’ve reentered a conversation with a group of people that had hurt me in the past, and ultimately it led to more genuine friendship.
I don’t see too many other women do that. I see most women walk away and stay away in a state of hurt. Well that’s just no fun. So I’m here to share a few thoughts for you to consider.
While I know it’s our tendency to want to self-isolate, operate from a state of woundedness and rejection, and stay far away, I urge you to give the friend group a fair shot.
Because here’s the deal. You will continue to encounter “groups” or “cliques” wherever you go as you raise children. The baseball game, the playground, the neighborhood, the soccer sidelines.
If you walk away for good every time something goes wrong or you’re not acknowledged, then, well, you won’t have too many friends.
As women we’re emotional and sensitive creatures. This can be good and beautiful. And it can also be to our detriment.
We need a bit of grit as we go about our friendships. Here is what I mean....
There was a group that had hurt me deeply. I had been a part of things and then was left out of some events. When I saw these ladies again, I did scale back for some time over the next several months. I could muster up a polite hello and smile…. but with tears about ready to roll down my cheeks. I’d keep the interactions short because that was all I could handle.
But as I processed my life and how often I’d see these women often…. and the past history that was there, I made a choice to re-enter their world and just try.
I felt like a very, very wounded puppy in doing so. It was an act of the will to go up and make conversation. But I kept on doing it again and again and again. Half pretending like they hadn’t done what they’d done. I knew that by stewing over it, the hurt would remain and even fester into deeper anger. And I wanted to give things another shot.
Over the course of time things became natural again. I joined in conversation. One by one they would observe that I seemed to genuinely care and many relationships were reestablished.
Is my guard up? You bet. I tread lightly in these relationships. But I am also thankful for them. I’m thankful I didn’t give up and live in a world of hurt every time I encounter them.
I continue to stick to my “safe” friends, and I encourage you to do the same.
But I also encourage you to establish some grit and perseverance in your friendships as you see fit.
Keep on pushing through with love and kindness and intentionality and just see where it leads.
If they really are the adult equivalents of the “Mean Girl” movie characters, then that’s another story. I’m just saying, maybe they’re not. Maybe there’s hope. And I think all of us women would do well to develop some stronger friendship muscles when - and I said when - people disappoint us.
I’ll end with some Scripture and truth that I know that I know that I know. Message me if you want a million more:
“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions.” -Proverbs 10:12
“This I command you, that you love one another.” -John 15:17
Give love a try. ❤️