Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2002

download word file, 3 pages 0.0

At my old school, there were 50 kids in my grade. I knew each one by name and had probably spoken with each of them at least five times in my freshman, sophomore and junior years. There were cliques, just like in every school, mainly "popular", "goth/punk", "Asian" and "preppy/ nerds". This is just the way things are in school. It's not a bad thing, its just human nature to want to spend time with people they are most like. That's not the problem. The problem is the pressure that is put on kids to belong in a clique. Everybody's thinking, "Am I going to look cool enough for the popular kids? Will they accept me?" Kids like Eric Harris, one of the two Columbine shooters, was harassed daily by the "popular" kids, called gay, a loser, a freak and a nerd. Then the same people who tormented him act shocked and wonder why he shot up the school.

The reason is pressure.

In the three years I spent at Chapel Hill, from the first day I hung out with the popular clique, which consisted mainly of 5 s and 7 guys. Some of the girls in the clique really didn't have anything to do with people of other cliques unless they needed help with homework or were assigned to the person for a group project. I, on the other hand, was friendly to everyone, and had no grudges against anyone and vice versa. Junior year a named Jessica came to my school. The first day she came, she looked so lost, and I immediately went up to her and made her feel welcome, by introducing her to my friends, or my "clique." But even though there were cliques, the people in them were always there to help others when in need, some more then others. Overall the school was a community. I really learned what that meant when I broke my leg. The people in cliques other then my own that I had taken the time to say "hi" to in the past were some of the first to offer their help. They would show up on icy mornings, knocking on my dorm room door or windows, ready to carry my backpack for me and push me to class in my wheelchair. They would stay after school to help me catch up on homework I missed in the hospital, explaining what had been taught in class.

For about two months I was my own clique of one, called the "crippled" clique, and it was everyone else that was reaching out to me when I needed it and even when I didn't. This made me reflect on the fact that if I hadn't taken the time to say a simple thing like "hello", they wouldn't have taken the time to return my kindness and I would be pushing myself to classes.

At the same time I felt guilty that the fact that I said "hello" had such an impact that they felt they needed to repay my kindness. I didn't intend to have that sort of power over people. But it was greatly appreciated in the end.

Starting at MHS, I knew there would be cliques. I wasn't sure where I would fit in, and just approached the situation with a hopeful mind that someone would take me under his or her wing, like I did for Jess. I tried hard and did my part by saying "hi" and being friendly and once in a while a person would return a smile but no one really talked to me. One week turned into one month and one month turned into four months.

Still I don't have anyone besides maybe 3 people that I can call my friends here. I don't get invited to parties so I spend weekends on the phone or on the computer talking to my old friends. I tried to join powder puff and went to one practice but after an hour with no one talking to me, I left and walked home. The phone only rings when it's a babysitting job, friends from Chapel Hill, or my boyfriend Mike.