Switching Teams: The Pettiness and Seriousness of High School

Here’s a poem that’s a little different from the rest. Instead of being about dark feelings, fears or insecurities, this one revolves around friendship. Specifically, it deals with losing a friend.

The events leading up to this poem probably aren’t too uncommon for a teenager. Everyone’s trying to find their path and fit in. As that happens, friends grow apart.

This poem was written on November 14th, 2004. I was 14-years-old and a freshman in high school.

Switching Teams

You used to care

you  used to be kind

you used to be many things

but you’ve changes with time

No longer can I rely on you

No longer is there trust

I was always there for you

But you’re not there for me

_

I used to trust you

I used to believe

I used to believe our friendship would always be there

but suddenly, the light is gone.

No longer is there friendship

No longer is it stable

You have lost my trust

It will be hard to find again

_

Vicki* can’t you see

You’ve become the enemy

No longer is there trust between you and me

We are on opposite sides of the battle

I, the so-called geek

and you, spawn of the prep’s team

This might be the most stereotypical high school thing I have every published on here. Switching Teams is about a friend whose name I changed in the poem for privacy. We were friends from a young age. Growing up, my mom worked as a stay-at-home babysitter and Vicki was one of the kids she watched.

We were close for a long time, going to each other’s birthday’s and having sleepovers. Life was complicated, though. In my small town, there was one other girl I was friends with and eventually one other when someone new moved to town. These three girls didn’t care for each other so I always hung out with them one on one.

I think my 9 years in a Catholic School (K-8) blinded me to the realities these girls faced at the public school. There were cliques I didn’t know about, yet. I had made friends with three girls from three different cliques. That’s just how it was.

When I started attending the public high school, I met most of my friends through Vicki. My other friends were always nice to me when we passed in the hall, but there was little more interaction than that during school hours.

As the months went by (only months because November of 2004 is still the first half of my freshman year), it was becoming obvious Vicki wasn’t who I thought she was. In truth, I don’t think she knew who she was. She allegedly said things about our friends behind their backs to a group with more popularity that us (which about any group). This made a lot of my friends angry and she soon left our group for another.

I was a bit more compassionate, though. Comparing her current actions with many incidents throughout our friendship, I figured out her game. Vicki wanted everyone to love her. She wanted to be everyone’s best friend. To that end, she’d walk up to me, telling me she was my best friend, but if Becky down the street hated me, she’d tell Becky she also hated me and sometimes share a secret of mine so they could have a good laugh.

Vicki wanted to be loved. She wanted to be the best and she wanted to have everything. Among all that, I’m pretty sure she also desperately wanted to be popular.

I wasn’t angry. I felt bad that she didn’t know who she was. How could you when every action you take is to make someone else like you. She wasn’t finding herself, she was shape shifting into the type of person she thought others wanted to see. I’m sure she’s not the only high school girl to act that way.

Our relationship eventually faded, but never got hostile. When I go home, I sometimes see her or her parents around. We’ll wave and sometimes we’ll even stop and chat. All that high school drama has been left in the past. The way she acted back then made me question if she had ever really be my friend. The way she acts on the rare occasion I see her tells me there had to be at least a part of the friendship that was real.

Throughout high school, I had my share of heartfelt conversations with friends. I knew the ones who had tried drugs to be cool, the ones who slept around to feel loved and the ones who drank themselves sick for the relief of forgetting the pain of existence for just a moment. I know Vicki dabbed in the alcohol and specifically remember her telling me she did it to forget life for a short time. She also had her own boyfriend who seemed to be far worse than Zachery ever was.

Middle school is a spinning twister of cruelty and fear, but high school was something different, at least from my perspective. It was like being dropped by that twister, dizzy and confused from the ride. Looking around, you sometimes weren’t sure who were really friends and who had made the twister in the first place. The worst part is you were trapped. While adults may have more responsibility, they also have the ability to leave it all. They can move. They can quit their job. They have more tool at their disposable to choose their fate. At 14, you’re stuck, forced by law to attend school, unable to choose which school you go to or what town you live in. If you let it get to you, the situation can feel hopeless.

This is why I take teen stress and depression so seriously. Perhaps, at 24, I’m still close enough to those experiences to relate. I remember parents and teacher who didn’t seem to care. We were just stupid kids doing stupid things. But my friend who slept around didn’t do it because she was a slut. She did it because she didn’t know how else to feel loved. When Vicki drank, she didn’t do it because she was a delinquent. She did it to forget the pain of life for just a moment.

The way she acted in high school made it impossible for us to be close. I’m not 100% sure I’d consider her a friend today, but my heart still goes out to her. She was just as lost as the rest of us at that age.

Did you have any friendships that dissolved due to petty high school drama? Why do you think the kids in your high school, drank, did drugs or participated in physically and/or emotionally damaging sexual acts? Do you think kids in high school today still do the same thing for the same reasons? Is there anything that can be done?

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8 thoughts on “Switching Teams: The Pettiness and Seriousness of High School”

  1. Come to think of it I don’t think any friendships of mine dissolved in high school. Most of the friendships I lost occurred during college (when everyone is supposed to be more mature)…and middle school actually. One of my closest friends in elementary school went to the “wild side” in middle school, and we just stopped being friends. No drama – we were just going different ways with our lives. She has since “settled down,” and we get together as friends whenever we are nearby. 🙂

    As for your other questions, I’m not sure I have answers…besides thinking that perhaps high school students do those things because they so desperately want to be an adult and break free from their parents. Doing adult things “helps” with that desire. Of course the wanting to be an adult thing starts happening in middle school, depending on the person.

    1. Oh man, by the time I graduated high school, my group of friends was all split up. I have photos from freshman and sophomore year with groups of girls and then, for my senior picture, I stand there with just one friend. It’s not that I wasn’t friends with anyone else, but that many of my friends wanted nothing to do with each other. I group fractured throughout high school.

  2. I don’t know about whether there is anything to be done but a lot of this was very familiar… I had similar friends who made similar sorts of choices and had similar struggles. My city/community is VERY bad about prescription drug abuse, that’s kind of what everyone did. Drink + Take pills. Lost a lot of friends that way. But also lost a lot of friends to that same desire to socially climb. I completely checked out of high school halfway through my junior year and refused to go back my senior year… I graduated through correspondence courses at the University. It was such a nightmare time of life.

    1. Dude, I would have LOVED to do the correspondence thing. High school wasn’t horrible for me, though. What was horrible was middle school. That’s where all my horror stories are from. In high school, I made friends with the ‘skaters and stoners’ because they liked video games and anime. People left me alone then. Still, the whole grade school experience was hell on earth. It’s like we try to weed out the weaklings or something.

  3. Not petty high school drama so much as personalities I just didn’t want to deal with. I have no friends I went to high school with outside of the ones I know and see through J. The high school I went to didn’t really have anyone that I connected with on a level I was looking for, not like the ones I had from Elementary and Middle anyway, so I just did my own thing and had others gravitate to me. Some of the girls I hung out with were very intelligent and going great places with their lives. They’re the ones I miss the most. They didn’t change for the worse, they just moved far away 😦 I never did drugs in HS but J did. He and his friends did them because they enjoyed feeling the effects; opening their minds to new thoughts, ideas, and feelings they couldn’t achieve without assistance.

    1. I’m afraid I’m the one who moved away from most of my high school friends. I have very few I consider to be close with. Somehow, even with the distance, we remain close. It’s not that we talk a lot, but when we do see each other, it’s like no time has passed.

      1. Yes. That’s exactly how I am with my besties from middle school. We don’t talk a lot so when we see each other the conversation is always full of surprises. I love those girls so much!

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