There are different kinds of goodbyes. There are sad goodbyes, somber and knowing. Planned reunions take place beforehand and tears are shed, bittersweet memories shared. There are sudden goodbyes, situations in which a person, or relationship, or feeling, exits your life completely, without any warning. And then, there are sweet goodbyes—purposeful, sometimes joyous. The sort of farewell that lifts a burden and, no matter how hard to contend with at first, leaves you feeling liberated.
Yesterday, I decided to finally be honest with myself and others. Maybe it happened because I’m engrossed in the isolation of summer, and feel no need to be part of a friend group. You see, whereas high school films portray the social climate of a school to be determined by cliques, made up of jocks, preppies, freaks, or geeks, my high school is run by friend groups. The difference being, that a friend group is not exclusive to a specific high school subculture; only a friend group can be comprised of stoners, lax bros, AND art hoes. Each group has a name, gang-like initiations, and makes a point to frequently photograph themselves together in large social environments, solidifying their friendship indefinitely, branding themselves for the remainder of high school.
Therefore, the beauty of any friend group is its ability to include varying sorts of people, find their few similarities, and capitalize upon them, creating a unified image. For example, me. Academically, I’m a little above mediocre. I’m not ugly, but I’m certainly not sought after. In fact, I’m known mainly for my mother being a feared teacher at my school. And that’s it. (I once read that it was challenging for girls in New Jersey to be accepted to college: I assume it is because there is literally no way to differentiate between most of us!) I don’t really fit in anywhere, and the whole labeling thing bothers me, but more importantly, people bother me.
But, because I had a friend group, “The GC” (standing for The Group Chat, and no, we were not sponsored by Apple) of widely-known, attractive, dare I say–cool–friends, I was seen in this manner. I was a part of something. I was invited to partake in friend group photo shoots. Younger kids recognized me as “one of them.” Truthfully, my friendship with this group of people wasn’t much of a friendship. Our bond existed in another realm, rooted solely in our cyber connection, the group text, which has existed in some form since the beginning of high school. It was a bond strong enough to make for fun, albeit infrequent, group outings. However, the division between them and me was astounding. The only thing holding us all together was our past, shared years of scary school transitioning, during which we had flocked to one another for comfort. Besides this, we had very little in common. They grew closer, while I split further apart, like a torn toenail.
Their summers have been exciting, full of boozed up nights, and bonding with upperclassmen. I haven’t gone out since the last day of school, and don’t really feel bad about it. Wisely, I’ve used the time they’ve spent scheduling Instagrams and expanding their spheres of social influence reading serial killers’ Wiki pages and binge watching The Anna Nicole Show. Ultimately, when I’m excited, or hurt, or happy, “the GC” are not the people I turn to. We don’t share the same priorities, or experiences, or interests. They had stopped acknowledging my presence, even virtually. I know “I think I saw Charlie Sheen working at the DMV” and “I hate my family, they’re not getting any of my money when I’m rich” aren’t great ice breakers, but a response of inquiry would be nice every now and then.
Being the tech-connected children of the elusive Generation Z that we are, my removing of myself from the group text, with no desire to be re-added, was highly symbolic. My foremost connection to the group was gone. I did it as quietly as possible. Bluntly, I told them in a single sentence I’d be leaving, sparing the details.
For a long time, I’ve tried to keep away from talking about my friends on this platform. Learning from the experience of my many emo personal Tumblrs back in the day, simple statements can be misconstrued, start fights, cause drama. The only reason I feel comfortable enough to publicize this particular experience with this particular group of people, is because only one of the nine people in my former friend group reads my entires. My cousins twice removed and parents’ friends from college read these entries, but eight ninths of the people I considered my closest friends don’t. ♦