Go Ahead, Try It. Give Your Friends A Chance

If you are somewhere between the ages of 13 and 18, you have probably spent some time crying in the girls’ bathroom. You probably know all too well what it’s like to be silently weeping in a stall scrawled with insights such as “Jake is hot” or “algebra SUX!” And rather than being the shoulder to cry on, your best friend is probably the reason you are dabbing your eyes with government issue half-ply.

Adolescent girl cruelty has been well documented. Mean Girls. Heathers. Any Judy Blume book. I’m even pretty sure Bravo’s programming might be some type of 13 Going on 30 situation where teenage girls have taken over artificially enhanced adult bodies.

Let me just say that if you are in this age bracket, I feel for you. We’ve all been there, and we can testify that it BLOWS. Your body is betraying you, and so are your friends. There are slights. Danielle, Rachel and Maria all went to the mall and didn’t invite you. There is carelessness with information. Renee told Kelly who told Lisa who Libby that you have a crush on Mike, and now (gasp!) Mike found out. There is just all out brutality.

Ever heard of the game “Slam”? You might call it another name, but all teenage girls play some version of this game. You gather to write down what you don’t like about each other, AND THEN try to hold back tears as this list of your worst qualities is read aloud. (*Note: teenage girls, I beg you to stop playing this kind of game. I don’t care if Karen McRyan is insisting it will be fun and you’re slightly afraid of her. Walk away. The only way that game ends is with an emergency phone call to your mom to pick you immediately and locking yourself in your bedroom for the remainder of the weekend, logging some serious time with your journal and Fiona Apple.)

Honestly, teenage girls could probably have taught the KGB a thing or two about subtle torture. However, as awful as it feels to be on the receiving end of it, try to give your friend(s) the benefit of forgiveness. I know that’s asking a lot. I know that you’ve already probably sworn never to talk to her again, and I don’t know the way she said it or the look she gave you. But here’s the thing: she might be a total a**hole, but so are you. Everyone is at that age. You don’t mean to be, but it’s part of being a teenager. Most people grow out of it, and sometimes, they grow up to still be your best friend.

I recently looked through my 10th grade yearbook. In it, I found a page-long entry apologizing for a month-long fight over who forgot to invite who to see Save the Last Dance. The paper was covered in rippled dots – evidence of the tears that had been shed in writing it. That note’s author is my best friend to this day – the person I call for everything from dissecting a date to discovering a new brand of yogurt I love (Siggi’s is amazing and worth a phone call). Yes, Save the Last Dance, a movie where Julia Stiles sports cornrows, almost caused the demise of that friendship. Somehow, it didn’t. Through angst-ridden notes like that yearbook entry, we managed to decide to give each other the benefit of the doubt. I’m really lucky we did.

As you grow up, you need those people who can remind you that nothing is as embarrassing as when you had clear braces. Or nearly as painful as when a boy broke up with you by completely cutting off communication. Or that bangs don’t work with your face shape.

So stop hiding in the bathroom, dry your eyes, and go give your friend a hug. She might not end up being your lifelong best friend, but at least give her the chance to be.

And in no particular order, here are some other tips for teenage friendships.

  1. Again, don’t play slam or any game like it. Your journal will thank you.
  2. Work out some kind of phone tree like people do in case of a disaster. Teenage girls travel in packs usually around a dozen deep. When you make plans you have lot of people to call or text. Someone will undoubtedly be forgotten. Have this chain of communication down.
  3. Choreograph dances at sleepovers as much as possible. An unfortunate byproduct of adulthood is that you rarely get opportunities to do this.
  4. Don’t sext. It’s completely unrelated, but it seems like everyone is crazy for it. It will lead nowhere but a shame spiral.
  5. Always carry tissues. If you are going to cry, at least wipe your tears away with something containing aloe.

Image via IMDB

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