the girls in the clique. and how I (accidentally) flashed them.

I didn’t know girls still did cliques at this age. I mean, I guess I could’ve figured it out, but I didn’t really give it much thought.

I was homeschooled, so I missed a lot of that stuff, which I’ve always felt lucky for. But no one can miss all of it.

(they made us watch “Mean Girls” at freshman orientation in college. it cut a little close to home for me)

It takes about two seconds of remembering to whip me back in time to the girls’ bathroom at the synagogue, where I am engaged in that most classic and venerable of traditions: crying helplessly, locked in a stall. It is my first day of Hebrew High School. I’m thirteen, and none of the other girls will talk to me. It’s not just implied, it’s outright. They cross the room to avoid me and then cluster together, whispering.

They are the same girls who I was in class with for the past few years. It’s Lauren and Elise, and then their friends. Lauren is the pretty girl with the amazing black hair who told me I don’t know how to dress. Elise is always following her around, at her heels like an eager puppy, practically panting, her blond hair bouncing. Hebrew school was OK, because I had David, and also Shana, and also Andrew, who was really smart. And I avoided the others, the way you learn to do. But at the beginning of Hebrew High, I am alone with all the wrong people. And I thought that things would be different, for some reason, because we have all had our bar and bat mitzvahs. Because we are supposed to be adults now. And adults are supposed to all get along with each other.



But still, when I joined a group of girls (:ahem: women) about six months ago, I thought that probably we would all be able to get along.

I’m not going to go into a lot of details about the girls or the group, because it’d be awkward. Let’s just say we were meeting to do something I like doing, and somehow, they had all gone to the same college. Many, but not all of them knew each other from college. The ones who didn’t know each other could at least reminisce over the names over various dorms and professors. Except for one other girl, literally everyone in the group had all gone to this very prestigious college. I did not go to a very prestigious college, and neither did the other girl. Which is not to say that this was really a problem. It definitely didn’t have to be.

Except that they were always talking about that college.

But it was more than that.

They were not really talking to me.

Or the other girl. Let’s call her Georgia. I like that name.

(makes me think of this)

For a while, I almost didn’t notice that they weren’t really talking to me. They all seemed nice, and interesting, and funny, and smart, and I liked them. They were snarky and clever and they laughed a lot at each other’s jokes. They didn’t laugh so much at my jokes, but I thought that they might need some time to warm up to me. That it was more a matter of not knowing me.

So I made more jokes.

Georgia, by contrast, appeared to shrink. She got even quieter and smaller, and barely participated. I got louder and more demanding. I told whole stories, with punch lines that I felt couldn’t go unappreciated. But for some reason, people’s eyes slid away from me. They turned back to each other.

Something crazy happened. Sometimes I would make a little joke and no one would react, and then a few moment later, someone would make THE SAME joke (sometimes even worded the same way) and then everyone would laugh.

It felt surreal. It felt like it wasn’t actually happening. Does this stuff really happen?

We’re all smart and nice and educated and thoughtful and grown up, I kept telling myself. So this isn’t happening. They’re just a little prickly. They just have to get used to me.

But gradually, I began wondering why they were that prickly. And why they seemed so nice but weren’t being particularly nice to me. And why it might take so very long to get used to me. Am I that difficult to get to know?

Georgia stopped showing up, but I was still going.

And then came the moment when everything was clarified.

The moment when my boobs popped out.

(watch out! it could happen at any moment!)

I don’t know what is with me and the clothing that does really embarrassing things in really public places (i.e. my yoga pants with holes in the crotch the day the teacher went rogue and made me demonstrate how much I suck at yoga in front of the whole class).

The group was meeting in someone’s charming apartment, and I was wearing this fabulous red dress with buttons in the front. I had this whole fabulous outfit going. Someone walked in and complimented the girl standing next to me on her outfit. Someone else complimented literally every other outfit in the room. OK, fine. Not a problem. They definitely have more conservative taste. I definitely never shop at J. Crew. To each her own.

We started talking, and I made a joke that no one laughed at and then someone made the same joke and everyone laughed. OK, maybe they missed that. I should be louder. Should I be louder? Maybe I’m obnoxious? Maybe they don’t like me because I’m obnoxious? Why am I even analyzing this right now? I should just relax! This is fun!

People were telling long stories and I was listening raptly. Sometimes I didn’t know the characters, because they were professors at the college I hadn’t gone to. But whatever—I could follow.

And then I decided to tell my own story, about something related, and I did. I thought it was going pretty well. I had their attention. Everyone was finally looking at me, and me alone. And so I was getting into it. Gesturing, smiling, getting louder. And then, with a rush of horror, I realized that something was wrong.

I sort of sensed it, with this sixth sense that always seems a bit late to the job. I glanced down and oh my god—my dress had popped open, and there were my boobs.

Well, technically, my bra. Most of my bra, though. Displayed for everyone to see.

And I got the feeling that it’d been like that for longer than one split second. I didn’t remember feeling the buttons give. What if I’d been talking like that for a minute? Holy shit.

But also—come on—kind of hilarious.

I burst out laughing.

“Annnd, here are my boobs!” I announced, gesturing at them. “Apparently they were feeling left out!”

I glanced back up, but no one was laughing with me. There was maybe the scattered, polite chuckle.

I quickly buttoned the dress and kept telling my story, shaken.

I finished the story, but by then their attention had drifted off of me.

COME ON, I thought. I just FLASHED you guys by accident! Give me something here!

But they didn’t. And suddenly everything was funny. It was funny that I was even still there. And funny that they didn’t seem to want to get to know me. It was funny that I am funny, and that my boobs popped out. I stood up and got my purse. I was done.

But no one reacted. They just kept talking around me. I was standing there, ready to leave, holding my stuff, and everyone else was sitting and just talking through me like I didn’t exist.

“Excuse me,” I said, loudly, finally. “I have to go! I’m so sorry. This was fun.”

And then I left. I was grinning in the elevator on the way down. I was grinning on the street. I was never going to go back.

And here’s the thing about being a grownup—maybe people are just as clique-y as when you were a kid. Maybe they will sometimes talk around you as though you are invisible. Maybe they are still unwilling sometimes to get to know a person they don’t already know. But there’s a really important difference between when I was thirteen and crying in a bathroom stall because Lauren and her posse wouldn’t even look at me, and now.

I can leave.


*  *  *

Have you run into cliques as an adult? If you’re a teenager, are you running into them a lot now?

Unroast: Today I love the way I look in gold. I love gold. It might be tacky, but I can’t help it. It looks goddess-y to me.

Cake pic!! I took this one of my friend Elena. As you can see, she’s gorgeous. We’re at One Girl Cookies, in my neighborhood. I am obsessed with their cake.


Note on this post: I don’t think the girls in the clique even know that they are in one. And I don’t want to make them out to be jerks. They really aren’t. They’re just doing their thing, and they all have something in common. I continue to think they are surprisingly witty and, in general,  fantastic.


Kate on June 6th 2012 in being different, friendship

60 Responses to “the girls in the clique. and how I (accidentally) flashed them.”

  1. Sam responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 1:04 pm #

    When I read your first few paragraphs, I was transported back to high school for a minute. I actually got the vaguely nauseous feeling in my stomach that I used to get when I looked around my high school campus and realized that literally everyone had someone to talk to, except for me. I spent many a lunch hour alone, in a shadowy corner, reading a book and praying for the bell to ring so I could go to class. I loved class. I could never figure out why I didn’t belong in any of the cliques. And I wanted desperately to belong.

    As an adult, I sometimes run into the same kinds of cliques that I saw in high school, but like you, it’s so much easier to walk away. Because now I understand myself well enough to know that I don’t want to be a part of that. I don’t want to belong there. I am happiest with my small and very close circle of friends, and with my husband, and with myself. One of the very best parts of the last few years was coming to understand exactly where I fit, and exactly what I want. Sometimes I look back at the high school girl I was, and I want to hug her and tell her not to worry so much about not fitting in with a clique. And then I smile too, and I wonder if I would be as happy as I am now without those angsty high school experiences. I’m not so sure. So maybe they were all worth it in the end?

  2. Lacey responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Bless this post. I honestly sometimes wonder if I’m the only grown-up girl – I mean, woman – who feels like cliques still happen sometimes. And it almost always feels exactly how you described in your post. Sometimes I think, “No, no. I’m just self-conscious. That must be it.” But man oh man, women and girls can be SNEAKY mean sometimes so that you’re constantly second-guessing.

    I am so glad we have the choice to leave now. It gets better. ;)

  3. Dorothy responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    I went to an all-girl’s high school, so I definitely know a thing or two about cliques. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that I can just walk away from people who treat me poorly. I applaud your strength, it’s a really empowering decision!

  4. Life [Comma] Etc responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    I’ve never experienced this kind of thing – if I did, I am confident I wouldn’t have handled it with half the maturity and good naturedness that you did… just wow!

    I think maybe the stereotypes are true and people are a little more polite (all the time) in the South? Just a little? If anything, you’d get that kind of treatment if you talked about college at all, not if you didn’t attend one. Crazy!

  5. katilda responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    oh.em.gee-olly, i can’t even handle the timeliness of this post! last weekend i went to a cabin with some friends and there were these girls that huddled in a corner, whispering constantly….and i was like…..are we 12? you are all almost 30! it was bizarre. it shouldn’t have bothered me, since i was sure i was having more fun talking to everyone else than the girls in the corner. sooo WHY did it bother me? i think it goes back to high school when i was always almost-cool-but-not-exactly-cool, or almost-friends-with-those-people-but-not-quite….so maybe just cuts too close to my inner teenage angst?? i also think it bothers me because i actually don’t mind most of those girls at the cabin individually….so why so threatening when they flock together? if i can be their friends one-on-one, why not when they’re together? ….i am probably over-sensitive to this right now because half the girls in that group are interested in the same guy as me right now. i’m like your friend Georgia….the competition cripples me. so i just find myself twiddling my thumbs while they scrabble for his attention, and i just want to raise my hand and be like “um, come talk to me when you’re done? and remember how i’m the one who borrowed your sci fi novel and who actually knows the bands you like?” ….and thus ends my i-feel-12-years-old rant. let us hope for a good ending in the near future!

  6. Amanda responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    They keep going — I’m 42, and there are still cliques. So I just don’t participate. If there’s somewhere I fit in, then well and good, but at my age I refuse to spend my time where I’m uncomfortable and unappreciated.

    It’s bliss :)

  7. Diana Spechler responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    Sometimes, the only way to escape is to flash your boobs. I totally get it.

  8. Kate responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    You always understand.

  9. Katherine responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    Ugh. Your story about Hebrew school reminded me of my own awkward reunion with classmates I wanted to avoid for the rest of my life. I went to the same Catholic school for nine years, and I was that shy dorky girl people made fun of, so when high school came around I went to the school that no one else picked because it was a lot further away. But then I “had” to get confirmed (I was no longer feeling super hot about the Catholic church but I wasn’t ready to fight my parents about it), which meant going back to classes with all those same people. It culminated with a weekend long forced retreat where we all had to stay in a big cabin together in the woods and they took our watches away so we wouldn’t know what time it was because “we were on god’s time”. And they made everyone go around the circle and say something nice about everyone else, and what people had to say about me was “I always borrowed your pencils because I knew you were too shy to ask for them back, so I could keep them. That was nice of you.” So uncomfortable. I wish I could have left. One girl escaped by spraining her ankle. I had serious thoughts of trying to accomplish the same.

  10. Kate responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    Oh my god. Now YOU are making me remember something. This kid in Hebrew school would ask to borrow my pens, and never give them back. I gave him my best one, because I thought maybe he liked me. He was really cute. But no. He didn’t.

  11. CarbonGirl responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    You should really thank your boob for bringing clarity to the situation!

  12. Kate responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    They are always so helpful :p

  13. nyssnoo responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    ulgh… cliques are every where!
    i dont really fit into any of them… i have like one friend in a group so i will go there and glue my self to them.

    Haha so i went into victorias secret yesterday to get measured, i was really nerveou but the girl was nice and sweet. it turns out i was wear a bra two sizes too small. buuut i said id buy a new on some other time.
    BaD IDEA. today after doing a flip in dance, i toally flashed my partener. Just fell totally out of the top of my dress. Sooooo embarrasing!!!! he was kinda in shock XD

  14. Kate responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    OH NO!!! But then, everyone needs to have one of those moments. You got it out of the way! :p

  15. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    feels like those girls/women were intimidated by you…and then you flashed them, how perfect! i don’t notice cliques so much in my circle, even when new people show up…but if i ever feel left out, i now know what to do…thanks! you give the best advice :)

  16. Melanie responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    Gah! This is why I value my friends each and every day. We are all unique, and amazing, and if you put us in a room no one would say, “Well, they are all so much alike. It’s obvious why they’re friends.” My friends are real-life adults where I never have to deal with any of that stuff. I would’ve walked out on that group the first time I hung out with them.

    AND my friends, even if we didn’t know you, would laugh and acknowledge your jokes. And your nip slip would’ve been the converstaion for the rest of that meeting. Hell, I would’ve flashed my boobs and said, “Hey! Now you don’t have to feel alone!!” That’s how rad my friends are, and my boobs. :)

  17. Kate responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    Oh, Melanie! We NEED to hang out at some point!!

  18. Melanie responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    I’ll be in New York October of 2013. You have a standing date! :)

  19. Kate responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 3:38 pm #


  20. Amy responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    I hate those people. It’s such a negative way of being. I also find myself becoming louder and *forcing* them to engage with me. They probably hate it but they shouldn’t be obnoxious – plus I know I’m a good person to chat with so really I’m doing them a favour! It is a good thing that as an adult you can choose not to involve yourself, and thankfully I’ve only encountered cliques at work at a job that it was easy to ignore them!

  21. margosita responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    This is sort of embarrassing to admit, but the cliques I always feel left out of as an adult are on the internet. Like, all the cool bloggers read each other and link to each other and tweet at each other and since I am not a cool blogger… well. It’s kind of like watching the popular girls. I am shy even about tweeting sometimes because if I @reply someone popular and I get nothing back I’ll inevitably feel like I’m the weirdo in high school yelling down the hall at the cliques who are making a point of ignoring me.

    Ugh. It’s such a stupid way to feel because the internet is a BIG place with A LOT of voices, so of course not everyone can reply to everyone. But I can’t seem to talk myself out of it, totally.

  22. Kristina responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 5:04 pm #

    great story! I applaud your effort in jumping into a new group/experiance and giving it hell. it’s not always easy to put yourself out there, or your boobs out there. Brava on both! But seriously, it takes courage. I am more like “Georgia” but next time I find myself in this type of situation, I will try to be like Kate.

  23. Elena responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    Kate, you’re so brave for writing about this stuff. It’s unfortunate and gross that people still behave like that. It’s honestly though because everyone else is insecure about themselves and it never has anything to do with you–but they are also not the kind of people you want to be around-the ones who are too worried about how they are coming off and willing to change themselves to fit. It’s also very boring.

    No one will ever ask at the end of your life “why were you not in the ‘popular’ group?”, they will only ask “why were you not you”? You are totally right that in those situations it’s so freeing to just remove yourself! Because it’s not worth your time. You were too real for them :)

    I’ve totally had those experiences, by the way, in middle school where girls were really mean and it’s totally affected me as an adult. I think it’s made me stronger, deeper, more compassionate and down to earth though and a better human being because of it.

  24. Lu responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    Whoa. This post. Just made my week.
    I feel so sorry for those poor women for behaving like 13-year-olds instead of handling things maturely. It makes you wonder whether they were reluctant (or shy?) to get close to strangers or just, pardon my french, bitches. I tend to believe that the second one, because COME ON, how could they not laugh at your awesome ability to save the boob-flashing-situation?! Their loss, really.

  25. Abby responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    This is such great timing. Because I JUST went through one of these, those hang-outs where everyone in the group is chatty and properly snarky and hilarious and you’re just sitting wishing you could leave because it’s happening all in a bubble that you just can’t get in. It was a high school group get-together, and everyone I hung out with in high school (except for the three really bomb-ass best friends I got out of that little school, all of them completely different) had been bff’s for at least eight years. Some of them since childhood. They’re great people, they really are, and that’s what always makes me feel like there’s something wrong with me. Surely only a schmuck could shrink into the wallpaper hanging around these girls, right? I felt like I was either really boring or just had a socially unacceptable funny bone.

    So what I’m trying to say is, if this was a facebook status, I would Like it. Capital L. Because it is so reassuring that other people go through this and it’s not that they’re schmucks. It’s just that cliques happen.

    P.S. I promise I would have busted a lung laughing at your flashing situation. My actual friends/family laugh uncontrollably at ridiculous things like that. I can’t believe that didn’t get them!

  26. Vicky responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    I read this post in disbelief and amazement. Disbelief at these women– SO rude! I would’ve thought the same thing, “do these things ACTUALLY happen?” Gosh. Anyways, my amazement was at your reaction. You took it so well! It’s easy to CARE TOO MUCH about other people’s opinions (including strangers, as seen in your post about the college kids on the bus!) and end up feeling bad about it, but here you were able to laugh and shrug the whole thing off. Good for you! Go Kate! :)

  27. San D responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    Cliques are “power in number” bully groups, that’s all. And, my motto has been “there are no victims, only volunteers”. You figured that out by leaving.

  28. Sheryl responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 9:43 pm #

    What I find funny is that any of that behaviour can be explained, if it were an individual doing it, as simply not liking someone, which is ok.

    But how the heck do groups of women all come together to act like that? I just don’t get it. It makes me sad that people treated you that way, but that’s total empowerment that you just had a f*ck it moment and walked away!

  29. Mandy responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 9:44 pm #


    Yeah, I get that–I hate being ignored. Makes me feel as if I’m not important enough to react to. And, it’s rude.
    But, I try not to take it personally. If someone ignores me, at this point in my life, I just roll my eyes and move on. Hey, if they don’t want to talk to me, I can’t be bothered with them, either.

  30. Jordan responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 11:51 pm #


    I read your blog religiously, but never felt the need to post before now. When I read the part where they would repeat the same joke you just said moments before, I immediately thought back to all the times it had happened to me.

    I HATE THAT. It infuriates me to no end.

    I remember when I was studying abroad in college, and there was a set group of girls that I lived with. We were friends, and they included me in most things, but there would be times when they would begin to tell me a story and I would have to say, ‘um, yeah… I was there…’ THEY DIDN’T EVEN REMEMBER I WAS THERE WHEN THE STORY HAPPENED. It bugged me to no end.

    Anyway, surprised boobs=funny. Comedy proven.

  31. B responded on 06 Jun 2012 at 11:58 pm #

    I think cliqueishness is just a thing for some people. I worked at a nursing home briefly and there was a small group of women there who sat together and commented on others and had the whole clique thing going. I guess some people just don’t grow out of it.

  32. Val responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 1:22 am #


    You put it all out there, and I love that SO MUCH.

    I had a neighborhood friend/clique thing back in like 1994.


    The thing is, though I liked this woman very much, and admired many things about her?

    I did not like the way she treated ME.


    This definitely seems like one of those situations.

    I’m so glad you told this story. I could picture my own self trying to do crafts and fit in, fingers all burned by the stupid hot glue gun.

    Making a million little plaster of paris casts for kids to paint in bible school–taking way more time than they ever would painting them.

    When we’re done being treated like shit, yeah, then it’s over.

    As always, a very tight hug. love, Val

  33. Karen responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 2:21 am #

    Oh adult cliques. Some people seem to never grow up and then other people do and are more accepting of other people or at least polite enough to listen.
    That story is hilariously funny though. Totally something that would happen to me too!

  34. Aezy responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 4:03 am #

    Oh dear I have a feeling me and my friends can get like this a lot of the time. We don’t do it maliciously or deliberately, but we’ve all known each other for over 10 years and there’s a certain amount of in-jokes and shared experiences which I guess might make it difficult for people to feel at home with us. That and the constant piss-taking which definitely intimidated the new girlfriend of one of our guy friends.

    On the other hand though there are several girls who are friends with just one or other of the group who hang out with us and I’ve never noticed that they felt left out or not part of the group :/ my experience in secondary school was that girls were much nastier to their so-called friends in the cliques than they were to people outside of the group!

    On a side note: my boobs do this as well, they appear to have minds of their own. The best one was a nipple popping out at my 21st birthday family gathering and me not realising until an elderly uncle pointed it out….

  35. Celynne responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 9:25 am #

    Oh there are most definitely still cliques going on… I tend to spend time in a very friendly scene – rock on hippies – but even then there are small groups that tend to resist the friendly loving flow of the crowd at large. When hundreds of people are smiling and dancing and interacting, and you then see clumps of people huddled together/hogging an area and essentially pushing everybody else away with their weird vibes, it’s really obvious. I’m always struck dumb with surprise when I meet people like that though, and I can’t help but wonder why they are like that. Maybe deep down they’re afraid to open themselves up to new people and new experiences and things outside their little clique?

  36. anya responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 9:48 am #

    You acted great. I am ashamed to say I actually was in a clique. In college of all places. I just finished high-school where I was not in any circles ( I was friends with some people , and got invited to their parties but never really in a group) mostly by choice “goody-two-shoes” attitude and annoyance at how “immature” their interests were. So in college, living in a dorm, I wanted to fit in. So I was very friendly with my colleagues. And quickly a bunch of us formed a clique. I still was quite dorky but funny enough and lazy enough to be counted in. As college went on I become bored with that drifted off ( I also started working). Then once, at one of my jobs I encountered some real mean-girl style cliques. I was like “WHAT” this is to funny to be happening . There was a girl who literally didn’t answer when I said hello. I wasn’t important enough. I found it SO funny and stupid. There were of course a younger group of friends there who adopted me quickly. Of course between the groups, contempt. And what’s funny is that working with some members of the first clique, and having common problems and talks and such, I was sort of adopted in the clique. They were willing to talk to me and share stories and such. And I was , really? Yeah, very mature, and lost interest. So I moved on .

  37. anya responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 10:33 am #

    @ After I left, a girl that was like your friend Georgia e-mailed me and asked me where I am now and such. And she ended with “you know I wouldn’t talk to anyone I’m not in any group”"I’m not integrated at all”. And I was a bit sad and annoyed that yes, I did join the “cool groups” but I lost sight there were people just like me who did not belong there but they were to shy to be friendly with me. We could have started our own small group. I could have been nicer to her. I could have asked her out and be the friend for her there. But no, I was just as removed from people as in high-school. Lesson learned.

  38. Gracey responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 10:43 am #

    @Aezy- Oh dear I have a feeling me and my friends can get like this a lot of the time. We don’t do it maliciously or deliberately, but we’ve all known each other for over 10 years and there’s a certain amount of in-jokes and shared experiences which I guess might make it difficult for people to feel at home with us. That and the constant piss-taking which definitely intimidated the new girlfriend of one of our guy friends.

    I second that. My group of friends are awful for this. They are NEVER nasty or passive aggressive in the way you describe, but they can be very guilty of ignoring new people. To be fair, we’re a big group and in get-togethers around 20 of the same people each time most of them don’t seem to feel they need any more friends and so don’t try. Funny thing is, most people in my clique (it’s a uni society but much wider than that) were uncool and bullied or left out at school and college. It’s like they never had that sense of being the”in crowd” so now that they have it they really revel in it, to the point of ignoring other people.

    I’ve been very embarrassed when trying to introduce friends from other places to this group because clique friends will just ignore them and start talking about shared projects and experiences. It makes me feel very awkward, because I *love* meeting new people.

    But yeah, that’s very different from the meanness you experienced, kate. I think you handled it perfectly, apart from I wouldn’t have been able to resist a “Well, thanks so much for telling me my boobs were hanging out. Imagine how awkward it would have been if you’d just let me stand there!” Sarcasm is the food of the gods.

  39. Shannon R. responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 11:04 am #

    Wow. I just went through this this morning. My boss brings in coffee and stuff for my two co-workers almost every morning. We were always very close until she went out sick for a month and came back not liking me. Not sure what I did. It’s sad that at 31 I’m still feeling like the fat girl in 7th grade. Even though, as of Monday, I’ve lost 70 pounds and should be doing a Snoopy Happy Dance.
    Oh, and as for the boob thing . . . I was at an outdoor festival a few weeks ago feeling adorable in a little wrap sundress. I was browsing some antiques and asking prices when I looked down and realized my pretty lace covered boob was right at eye level with the little old guy trying to sell me a ring. Yeah. That was fun. ; )

  40. Anna responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    The only reason there are cliques at my school is because my ex best friend became super stuck up and has deemed about three of our classmates ‘worthy’ to talk to. So those three never separate. And then there’s the rest of, all friends, all joking and helping each other out without a second glance. And then there’s her, whispering and judging and talking sh*t behind everyone else’s back. Her group used to have five. Then their fifth caught her talking about how much of a ‘b*tchy sl*t” (I hate those words) to another member of her group. This devastated their fifth and then she realized that maybe, just maybe, the reason no one talked to them was because they’re so hateful and poisonous.

  41. Ashley responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    What a FABULOUS post! Thank you!

  42. Samantha Angela responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    Who the hell are these girls that you were hanging out with? God, they sound awful!

    I was laughing reading the story about the flashing, I’d probably be in tears if I were actually there! You’re clearly hanging out with the wrong crowd. And so are your boobs.

  43. Andrew responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    You’re so kind. But David was actually much smarter than I was/am. And Lauren was ehhhhhhhh.

    I don’t look back too fondly on that group either, for what it’s worth. That was my first year too. I never felt entirely left out, but the personalities were mediocre at best. I worried about you back then, being home-schooled and showing up in the middle of the year. I guess my worries were warranted.

    Who was the pen-stealer? Was it Matt with the platinum hair? Ladies love that dude. I still see him on occasion, nice guy. Don’t tell me it was one of those snobs from Montgomery..

    Cliques are everywhere. I like to exist in the empty space surrounding various cliques. Variety wins.

    I’m about to drop some major generalizations here, but since someone commented on Southerners: watch out for them. They may be polite, but they judge you with a much greater ferocity than people around here. It’s usually an act. They’re trained to be polite to people while passing harsh judgement. Don’t buy it for a second. Make them prove their devotion to your well-being.

  44. Alex responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    @Aezy and @Gracey

    I completely agree. I was reading this thinking “I hate when people do that to me” and “Omg do I do that to people??” I think that we could all stand to be a little more vigilant about how we treat new people in our groups. As women, we tend to flock together and form our little sisterhood groups, which is a good thing! But every one of us has been the new person in a group and it sucks and we need to always remember how that feels. Those girls could benefit from being the new kid somewhere again…

  45. Kate responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    I don’t know…you were both smart in different ways. He maybe in the more typical, schoolish way. You were always a surprise, which I thought was cool.

    IT WAS TOTALLY MATT. Oh my god. What is he doing these days?? You have to tell me.

    I felt like we were sort of unlucky with that group. My brothers both got awesome classes and still have good friends from Hebrew school. Sigh…

  46. Kate responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    @Ashley Thank YOU!

  47. Kate responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    It’s always so confusing, when you like and respect someone, and it turns out they just don’t care about you that much.
    And I love your comments.


  48. Substance of Living responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 4:51 pm #


    You’ve brought back a lot of memories for so many of us readers. The teen years are awkward at best and then having to deal with cliques makes me wonder how we ever survived. Sometimes it was just easier to go along with everyone else than to sit at home alone on the weekends. Today, as an adult, I can walk away from situations and am much choosier with whom I spend my precious time.

    Congratulations and thank you for writing this thought-provoking piece.


  49. Andrew responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 6:55 pm #


    Matt joined the Air Force out of high school. Not sure what he’s doing now, I guess the last time I saw him was a few years back, which feels like 10 minutes ago since there are no more graduations to mark time.

    I’m actually very surprised those girls joined Hebrew High School. I always felt I was more religious than they were. I still do.

    All in all, I don’t feel too unlucky with that group. You’re bound to get a certain type of kid when you join a synagogue 10 minutes outside of Princeton, regardless of how progressive it may be. We’re still in touch, I became close with Shana for a while after the B’nai Mitzvot (double plural, not sure if correct), would see Mike all through high school through our bands. Meeting a couple of decent people was enough for me, especially since that was the time period in which I was treated like a leper at school.

    Thinking about it a bit more, I remember being mildly offended that some people didn’t invite me to their bar mitzvot (pluralization attempt #2). That was some bullshit. It wasn’t that I considered myself close enough with these people to get an invitation otherwise, it was that they couldn’t invite the whole class, as was generally considered the custom. Come on, people. There were about 12 of us. Suck it up and invite everyone. But I don’t remember getting particularly worked up over the slight(s), which is surprising given the way I would react to slights at school.

  50. Betsy responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    This post rings so familiar to me. For that, I am sorry. I don’t wish for anyone to feel this way! If someone in my company had a dress mishap and then laughed, I would find them endearing and a good egg. How could they not laugh?? What a bizarre-o world moment! Unfortunately (or not), I went to three high schools and being the new girl so often meant that I was constantly trying to find my place. I became comfortable reading alone at lunch over trying to fit into cliques. Eventually, I would find wonderful friends but it always went better for me to let it happen over time. College was a joyful time on the whole in the friend department but I got a little lazy about making new friends since the magic of meeting my best friend and almost all of my other friends through her or her friends unfolded. Very easy to make friends that way! You go into it knowing nice things about them and they know good things about you and bam, done and done. I didn’t realize how lucky I was then. Now, I live with my husband and our baby several hours away from my best friends and it is so hard to find people that I really connect with here, partly because I am so busy and shy and partly because I like my old friends, dangit. Alas, I do have a baby and he needs other babies to interact with so I am in a mom and baby group. I thought that surely we could all bond over our little ones but goodness, it is a bit cliquey. I feel like some of the women look through me and not at me. And, sometimes, they do the ignoring what I say and then someone else says it and everyone agrees it is a great idea/ funny joke/ whatever. I don’t know if it is because I am younger than they are (someone often makes a comment) or poorer (married to a grad student :) ) or if I am awkward or weird or something. The thing is, I am a little awkward and weird and my best friends know this and love this. I am looking for some people here who get me. As such, I work really hard to “get” others and maybe I come across as over-eager? Ahh! I wish I could give up but my kid needs this so I stay. Anyways, I bet your red dress was beautiful and you looked fantastic in it!

  51. Aezy responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 5:21 am #

    I am proud to say that my friends and I do try and make the effort with new people and most of us have friends outside the group, I just know that when we come together (and we’ve been drinking a bit!) we are loud and boisterous, which isn’t to everyones taste!

    Still I remember in secondary school that everyone else in our year group decided we were the popular kids. For some reason that actually gave everyone a license to be mean to us (even the teachers!) about our clique-yness, despite the fact that at 13/14 years old pretty much everybody I knew had their own clique and were possibly even more precious about it than we were. It’s not a nice feeling to be judged based on everyone else’s opinions of how you’ll act just because they think you’re popular (I was mainly included because I knew a lot of the girls from primary school, I was still weird).

  52. Frances responded on 11 Jun 2012 at 10:14 am #

    I have a few thoughts.

    Cliques seem to get worse in adulthood. Perhaps the obvious existence (and frankly, open acceptance) of marked social groups in middle and high school has diminished, but cliques remain. However, instead of being blatantly up front about labels, people include and exclude in silence, leaving those left out to wonder what they did wrong, IF something is wrong…the silence is perhaps the most painful and difficult part of being one orbit away from the in-crowd. Adults seem to think that saying everyone’s invited dissolves the problem, but cliques and clubs remain, and the false inclusion hurts even more than straight-up rejection.

    Also..I appreciate the fact that you recognize that these women are, independent of their treatment of you, smart and funny. It’s important to be able to identify the difference between someone’s behavior and her character, and you are able to describe one without attacking the other. Still, I think your addendum is misplaced. The women in your group were smart and funny, and maybe well-dressed and probably, to one another, great friends. However, they were never as much to you, and furthermore, neglected to offer an in to conversation, if not their circle. They weren’t nice. They weren’t fantastic. They were rude, exclusive, and aloof. I don’t care what college they went to or how many common points of interest they had- they went out of their way to make you feel like an alien, and they do not deserve your “yes, but” note at the end of this post.

  53. Briana responded on 11 Jun 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    I am in high school, and don’t really have a ‘clique.’ There are cliques, but I consider myself more of a floater. I like to talk to everyone. However, I usually hang out with the less ‘popular’ people because the popular people come off as snooty. I’m sure they’re judging me as much as I judge them. I don’t mean to judge them, but just thinking about the fact that I used to be friends with pretty much EVERYBODY and then ‘P O O F’ all our memories have instantly faded. I usually give everybody a smile in the hallway or a wave to old friends, and most of the time they don’t reciprocate the friendliness. I don’t want to rush the high school expierience, I am now a junior, but I can’t wait to not see these snooty punks again… Sincerely, Briana! (P.S. I just found this website and I love it!)

  54. Heavy responded on 12 Jun 2012 at 11:57 am #

    Yeaaaaahhh…maybe they are nice ladies as individuals but I’d venture to say that deep down in their lady parts they know they’re being beotchy. Cause I certainly know I am when I act like this. It’s usually laziness and just a general lack of big heartedness when I just decide I’m already “in” and I can’t be bothered to let someone else “in.” I try to be vigilant about how I treat people because I’m aware that I have the capacity to do this (and it’s all about my old insecurities around being left out). But seriously, only one of them had to be inviting and the whole tide would have shifted. They would all have been laughing at the joke the first time rather than on the rerun. Instead they all chose to be petty. Not cool. But you, lady, are cool and absolutely did the right thing by leaving AND with all kinds of class!

  55. Melinda responded on 13 Jun 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    Kate…your posts simply blow me away! I can definitely relate to this (minus the flashing and Hebrew school, because I’m not Jewish).

    But yeah, I’ve encountered cliques my whole life. I thought it would be different in college/university, but it wasn’t.

    I’ve always wondered what it’s like for people who exist as part of a clique. What it feels like to be accepted and to have people laugh at your witty comments instead of at YOU, know what I mean?

    I look very young. I can still pass for 18 at 30 years old. So I still meet people with this clique-ish mentality, even catty young girls who give me this judgmental “up and down” stare.

    When I was younger I wanted to be part of a crowd, any crowd. Now I just find the whole concept of a clique to be really lame. I think it’s sad when girls are acting this way, but it’s more sad when grown women do it.

    I guess the key is to get in where you fit in. I will most likely never fit in with certain types of people…chances are, we’re too different and they will pre-judge me without giving me a chance.

    But I’ve learned to identify the types of people who will be open to my friendship and that is who I’m trying to focus on.

    I find that some people won’t talk to me or be friendly because of their preconceived notions. They believe I’m not pretty enough or stylish enough to talk to. I don’t want to be friends with shallow people anyway, so I don’t bother. Some people won’t talk to me because of my race. That’s OK, too…it helps me to weed out more jerks.

    @ Andrew…I agree with what you said about a lot of Southerners! I’m from the South. Yes, there is a level of politeness on the surface with some Southern folks but there is a lot of judging.

    People, especially women, will be sweet but they will also stab you in the back. Or they will find subtle (and not so subtle) ways to insult you. A common saying is “bless your heart” while they are insulting somebody.

    Like “bless her heart, she sure is ugly” or something to that effect.

  56. Shana responded on 14 Jun 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    Kate, it’s so funny that I had in mind a comment to make and then I looked down at the comments and Andrew had already pretty much said exactly what I had in mind. Your description of Lauren and Elise is quite accurate. They were “nice” enough, but always kind of had a snobby attitude. Especially Lauren. And I think she was Scott’s cousin, if I remember correctly. (You remember Scott, right?) So if she came from a super rich family like he did — I recall he served surf and turf at his bar mitzvah at a country club, which I thought was astonishing both because it was treyf at a Jewish event and because, like, who spends money for surf and turf for a bunch of middle schoolers? — that explains a lot about where she comes from. Of course that doesn’t make it okay, but I just mean the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

    I wanted to comment (except Andrew beat me to it!) that I vaguely remember not being invited to Elise’s or Lauren’s bat mitzvah and I thought that was pretty lame of them. I invited our whole class. Partially because, as Andrew pointed out, there were like 12 of us, tops — there’s nothing to lose by inviting everyone (especially if you’re not serving $30-a-plate meals). But mostly because I just didn’t know where to draw the line between who to invite and who not to. It was a no-brainer that I’d invite you, Karen, Andrew, Mike, and I think I was friendly with Matt at that point (yes, he was indeed cute back then). I considered some of the other classmates to be more acquaintances than close friends, but they were perfectly decent people, so I’d invite them too. And then there were a couple of people with whom I just didn’t interact much. Still, I didn’t feel right excluding anyone. So when a few of the snobby rich kids didn’t invite me to their parties, I didn’t like the feeling of being excluded, but I didn’t really let it get to me. I figured since they were all from other towns and didn’t go to my school, I’d never have to see them again anyway. I can certainly live with that.

    Clique-y, exclusionary people are one of those annoying things in life, that’s for sure. But we’re old enough now to put it in perspective and not let it get to us. I’m so glad I never have to be in middle school again.

  57. Pam responded on 18 Jun 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    This has been like every job I’ve ever had. Even now, and I work with ALL GUYS. It’s dreadful :(

  58. Lily responded on 10 Jul 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    So relatable! Only, you’re lucky if you can walk out of somewhere. Sometimes cliques happen in class, work, or in my case house, and then it’s a lot harder to just walk away cause you got to deal with those people… :/

  59. Eat the Damn Cake » being friends with other people’s moms responded on 21 Aug 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    [...] But in groups, people are so different, even now. [...]

  60. Amy responded on 10 Oct 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    I just started reading your blog and in catching up on this one I felt (as I always do) such a familiar feeling.
    I’ve had maybe 2 friends in my life who have been friends for any real length of time. Otherwise I’ve always been the new person in a group of people who all REALLY like me but have known each other since, I don’t know, conception. So its inevitable that sometimes I feel like they’re leaving me out and don’t really care if I’m there or not.
    Most of the time I think its just me being awkward and far too self aware and I can just wander for a moment and come back and find that they had wondered where I went.
    Sometimes they really don’t care. Haha.
    They don’t do it to be mean though. I haven’t run into people like that as an adult I don’t think.