The Teenager did not get a part in Anne of Green Gables. To say that she was disappointed is an understatement.
In her frustration, she posted this on Facebook:
Hello world, are you done trying to kill me yet?
It wasn’t something I worried about. She’s fifteen. She’s figuring all this frustration out. She’s learning how to balance her sadness with knowing she’s doing her best. She’s learning how to feel strong even when things don’t go as she hoped. But it was a real blow to her to find out that a friends BFF got the role she really wanted. And it didn’t help when a mutual friend posted this in response to the above comment:
No worries dear <3 God has a beautiful plan for your life and this show wasn’t part of it (which means it can only get better) <3 trust me I know the feeling sooo well. And don’t let anyone else’s success get in the way of your own. Courteny has had a lot of experience, believe me, and sometimes it feels overwhelming that your opportunities continue to get turned down. But have faith in God and His plan and don’t let anyone tell you you’re not wonderful. (:
It wasn’t what her friend said.
It was the attitude behind how she said it. It was that she has gotten every community theater role she has tried out for, including leads. It’s that for years this girl has been subtly “one upping” my daughter, and this time was the last straw. It’s that when The Teen joined her and some other friends for a night on the town last summer, she was largely ignored by all of them. Told, in no uncertain terms, that she just didn’t fit in.
The Teenager unfriended her from Facebook last night. This has been a long time coming.
This morning, she got an “if you can’t handle that I care about you and just told you the truth then I guess that’s your problem” private message.
When did we start teaching young girls that the only way to relate to one another is through competition?
Josie Pye from Anne of Green Gables immediately came to mind. She is described as “Vain, self-absorbed and perpetually seeking attention… [playing] both foil and friend to Anne… Josie levels judgment after judgment in Anne’s direction, hoping to un-seat her self-confidence. The Pye family [has] a dubious reputation about Avonlea, [and] Josie follows suit and makes her way through cheating and gossip.” ~sharetv.org It’s like so many of the relationships echoed in the popular media and encouraged by sites like Facebook and Google+ today.
Almost all of what I watched as a teen had a “better than” and a “worse than” group. Clueless, Beverly Hills, 90210, My So Called Life. And now it’s shows like Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and Secret Life of the American Teenager. There is this idea in media that snarky attitude filled girls who talk behind one another’s backs, feign friendship in order to serve their personal agendas, and tear one another down is the norm. I don’t agree. As a parent, I see that radiating out into places like Twitter and FB. It’s a litany of posts about what we’ve done, where we have been, and who we know instead of a real representation of who we are. It’s a breeding ground for jealousy and comparison.
It angers me that as a woman I am constantly judging my self worth against the women around me. It angers me that instead of friendships on social media that have radiated out of real life relationships, the relationships I have are surface and based on status updates. It angers me that I have fallen into the trap of comparing my home and my family and my life with the people I surround myself with on social media. I am realizing that I don’t really know many of the people I call “friends.” I am craving deep and meaningful relationships. And I sense that my teen is too. This craving is what prompted me to drop off of Facebook for the 40 days surrounding Lent. It seemed as good a time as any to put my effort into the local (and not so local!) relationships that mean the most to me. I have been writing letters. I have been having coffee with girlfriends. I have been texting friends instead of FB messaging them. It had become all too easy to hit “Like” and walk away knowing all the while that I had not really read the posted update. I am tired of being false.
But really. If I don’t know your husband or children’s names, are we friends?
I know, I know. Not every relationship can be deep and meaningful and the kind of friendship that pulls you out of the deepest kinds of anguish or hurt. And I consider all of you readers to be my friends. I realize that in this public domain, we take care with our personal identities to a large degree. But I have worked hard in this space to cultivate a community. I have worked hard to be honest. I have worked hard to be ME. I wanted this to be more than a dumping ground for every sort of mish mash when it comes to what’s in my head. I want to relate. To grow. To learn. To be open to what others have to teach me and what I can teach them. To truly get to know you.
The opposite of the comment from my daughter’s friend.
In doing my best to grow real relationships and cull out the ones that consistently hurt my heart, tear me down, or sit so constantly on the surface that I never get to truly know a person, I hope I am teaching my girls how to be real. I hope I am teaching them what a joy true friendship is.
I hope I am teaching them to be best friends with one another.
And I hope I am teaching them that it is ok to weed out the relationships that aren’t edifying. To have a select group of friends that build you up, that lead you to higher places, and that don’t (pardon my french) make you feel like shit all the time. I would rather they have one or two really wonderful, really amazing, really awesome friends than have a million that don’t really care about them.
The Teenager responded with grace to her friend. She reminded her that they don’t hang out. She thanked her for her loving, well intentioned words. She allowed herself to be vulnerable with this friend. But she didn’t add her back to her friend list. I’m proud of her.
She’s seeing the light. She’s being herself. The friends who really matter are recognizing that.
That’s what real friendship is all about.