The Populars | TeenInk

The Populars

December 6, 2019
By anelinski20 BRONZE, Davisburg, Michigan
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anelinski20 BRONZE, Davisburg, Michigan
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Author's note:

I wrote this hoping to show that you don't need to have many friends in order to feel like you're important!

I walked into school on the early Monday morning and felt the early October sun on my skin. The sun was just starting to peek through the clouds and the pink and orange vibrancy gleamed on my skin. My long brown hair was waving in the wind and glittering in the sunlight. I heard the sound of the horn come from my car before going in and meeting Vanessa and Miranda at the school’s main doors. Vanessa and Miranda both wore pink tank tops with black skirts and cute jackets around them, everything was designer clothing, because that’s the only thing that makes them “look good”. I looked down at my outfit and I was wearing a cream sweater and a plaid skirt with brown, white, and red running along with the plaid pattern. Miranda and Vanessa smiled and waved at me with their snow-white teeth and manicured nails as I walked over to them. 

“Hey, A!” Vanessa greeted me when I met them. 

“Ready for class?” Miranda asked as we started heading towards our destination. 

Vanessa and I looked at each other and said, “Um, no.” As we laughed and walked ourselves to class.

Mrs. Rayes Literary class was boring as always and Miranda, Vanessa, and I laughed and gossiped like usual during the entire class. To keep ourselves entertained, we would find the person that was sleeping and laugh about how they snored so loud and Mrs. R wouldn’t hear a thing. Or how we think a girl has a crush on a guy because she has her eyes locked on him from a distance. Class dragged on and on until the bell eventually sounded and we were released from the grasps of Literary class. 

Now, I wouldn’t think of myself as someone who spreads rumors or who laughs and makes jokes about every person they see, but Miranda and Vanessa are. They always do these things, and I’m not completely okay with it. I don’t want to be known as a person like them, as someone who talks bad about everybody. I would like to think of myself as someone who cared for her friends and family, loves being around people, and someone who is excited about the future. Not everyone knows that though. My best friend Jake and my little sister, Marissa are the only people who truly know who I am. Marissa and I are only a year apart and closer than other siblings would be. We have to be, our parents are here, but they don’t really pay attention to us. They are just… there.

My friends at school are a different story. I’m not as talkative around them, but I feel like I’m always the center of attention. Some people call us, “The Populars”. Yes, I would consider myself to be popular at school, but let me tell you it’s not enjoyable. I have like three friends, yes everyone talks to me but I feel like they only talk to me because I'm the pretty, popular girl. They only want to be seen talking to me, not actually be friends with me. In our popular group, we have three people, Miranda, Vanessa, and myself, Alexia. Vanessa is the front of the group she’s the prettiest, has long dark brown hair that she always throws curls in, and the one all of the guys want to talk to. Honestly, I don’t even see what all of the guys see in Vanessa, she might be pretty, but her personality isn’t. She might act like she cares, but she really only looks out for herself. Everything else is just a facade. Miranda is kind of known as the dumb but pretty girl. She’s pretty, but also pretty dumb. At least she has good fashion sense though. Then there’s me. Remember all of those things I told you about me earlier? Yeah, forget it. At school, I’m the one in the group who’s the least pretty and the one that’s always standing in the background of Miranda and Vanessa. 

The thing with being in the background when you’re in the popular group is that you’re never really in the background. You’re still there, front and center of everybody in school. Everyone thinks that they know everything about you. Rumors get spread around, then all of a sudden everyone hates you. Ironic, right? Considering we are the ones that spread the most rumors. They will come back and bite you, that’s what people don’t realize. 

I walked into class and sat down next to Jake and he smiled and greeted me. I’ve always liked Jake in a friendly way and we are good friends, he’s not one of the fake friends, he actually knows me. He’s never really liked Vanessa or Miranda, but he won’t admit it. When I’m around them he won’t really talk to me, he will only wave and walk past.

“Hello… Earth to Alex.” Jake waves his hand in front of my face and I realize that I had been daydreaming and ignoring him this entire time.

“Sorry, Jake! I’m just really tired and deep in thought I guess.” I tried to play it off, but Jake knows me better than I do sometimes.

“What’s wrong?” He pressed.

“Nothing. I’m okay, I promise” I tried to show him a smile and reassure him, but I was feeling off about something. 

The class continued to drag on as we listened to our teacher lecture about the history of the Egyptians. I couldn’t seem to stay focused on the lecture and my mind kept wandering until the bell rang and snapped me out of my daze. Jake and I stretched out of our seats, walked out of class and went our separate ways into the stretching halls of the school. 

After the third hour, I met up with Miranda and Vanessa for lunch and we walked to the cafeteria and headed towards our table. It was like our table was reserved for us, no one even tried to sit there. Everyone in school knew that was our table. We sat down and some of the other popular guys came to sit with us. Steven, Cole, and Aaron sat with us at lunch. Every day felt like a repeating cycle. During lunch, we would laugh and talk about how our weekend went and what plans we have for the upcoming weekend. Sometimes we will talk and joke about crushes or cute couples at the school. Most of the time though, we will laugh about a group of people or is we see someone walking and joke about how their outfit or their hairstyle. I used to laugh at these things, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how it would affect the person we are making fun of if they actually heard the things we were saying. I sat there thinking about how I would feel if somebody said all of these things to my face. While everyone sat there laughing and joking I felt worse and worse about what everyone was saying. I interrupted everybody in their laughter and said, “What makes this fun to you all?” 

They all stopped and gave me blank expressions. I continued, “You think that making fun of how people dress or look is funny?” 

No one said anything. They all stared at me, seemingly unbelieving what I was saying as if I was speaking in Spanish or something. I looked over at Vanessa and she was the only one with some expression, but I could tell that it wasn’t a good expression. She was going to combat back with something. 

Then it happened. 

“You know, if you don’t like what you’re hearing, you don’t have to sit here,” I was shocked. I knew Vanessa could be unpleasant, but she never really was like this towards me. 

“Excuse me? What?” I was utterly flabbergasted. Did she just tell me that I can leave and go sit with another table?

“You heard me. If you don’t like what we are talking about then go sit somewhere else so you don’t have to listen to it.” She stretched those last words out too. She knew she could get me to leave. 

“Vanessa, what are you doing?” Cole tried to stand up for my defense, but one look from Vanessa was all he needed to be shut down. 

“Are you going to sit somewhere else or are you going to sit and deal with it?” She bittersweetly said. 

I was absolutely done, “You know what? I don’t need this.” I walked grabbed my things and walked away. I spotted Jake sitting with some of his friends and went to sit with him. I could feel everybody’s eyes on me as I walked away from the dispute.
I attempted to confidently strut my way towards Jake’s table, I knew he would let me sit with him. I didn’t feel as confident as I inched closer to his table Jake must’ve seen what happened because he was watching me the whole way to his table. 

“Hey,” I started, “do you mind if I sit with you today?” I felt sheepish. I knew I shouldn’t feel bad for trying to stand up for something, but I still did.

“Yeah of course,” He looked at his friends, “you guys don’t mind right?” His friends all looked at me and one of them spoke up.

“No, of course we don’t,” he said smoothly. I recognized him from some of my classes, his name is Hunter Ryan. He’s one of those guys that’s not invisible to everybody, he’s just not at the tip-top like I am with my friends. He’s a pretty good looking guy and I wouldn’t mind being friends with him. 

“Alright, thanks,” I said, feeling better about what had just happened.

I sat down next to Jake and started eating my lunch, I could feel Vanessa’s eyes on me. She had a snarky look on her face and I knew she was gossiping about me because she would say something to the group and turn her head and look right at me. Then she would roll her eyes and turn back towards the group. Whenever she turned to look at me, I would stare right back in her eyes. It was like a game of “Chicken”, whoever looks away first is the chicken, the weaker of the two. I wouldn’t let her have that over me too. 

After lunch, Vanessa, Miranda, Cole, and I have the same class together. Thankfully Jake was in this class too, so I could escape to him if I needed to. Jake and I walked to our class and when we entered the room, I saw them sitting at our table. When I went to go sit down with them, Vanessa raises her voice, “Hey Mandy.” Mandy was in our grade, Vanessa always makes fun of her. What was she doing now? Mandy looked over to Vanessa with somewhat of a frightened look in her eyes. Vanessa continues, “Mandy, come sit with us.” She waves her hand to lure Mandy over. Mandy shyly brings herself out of her seat and sits down in my spot. Vanessa looks over at me and gives me a glare. Jake pulled me over towards his table and let me sit with him and his friends. I was grateful for Jake, I know he’s someone that I could always come to. 

The rest of the school day seemed to drag on and Vanessa texted me during the last period to tell me to meet her at the main doors after school. I was not looking forward to it, I didn’t know what she was going to say, or if she was still mad. Vanessa doesn’t forgive very easily, she’s one to hold grudges. I told Jake about Vanessa wanting to talk to me and he offered to stay until we were done talking, I thought that was really considerate of him to do. 

I went to meet Vanessa right after school. I was dreading it. Thankfully though, I had Jake by my side. He was trying his best to reassure me that everything was going to be fine, but I couldn’t help but feel like something terrible was about to happen. “Hey, it’s going to be fine. If it’s not, then you still have me.” He finished with a chuckle. I tried to let up a smile but my nerves and anxiety were too high at the moment. Jake gave me a hug before I walked over to Vanessa. I tried to examine her face. She didn’t look upset, but she looked more irritated than usual if that’s even possible. As I got closer, she tried to put one of those fake smiles on her face. I could tell this definitely wasn’t going to be good now. 

I could see the irritation on her face, “I’m going to make this short.” She stood there with her arms crossed and a confident stance, “So I talked with the guys and Miranda and they all said that they think we shouldn’t hang around you anymore.”

I stood there, not saying anything. They couldn’t just kick me out like that! She continued, “They think that you’ve been stuck up lately and honestly if you can’t take a joke then I don’t want to be around you. And neither do the others. So we came to a conclusion.”

I finally found the words that were lost in my mind, “Wait, you can’t just kick me out of the group! So I said something about how I didn’t like how you were treating others. I was standing up for them instead of degrading them. What’s the problem with that?” Vanessa knew she was getting to me. 

She continued on, “That’s the problem. You openly went against me in front of everybody. I can’t be seen with someone who will backlash me like that. That’s why we’re not hanging around you anymore. Don’t take it personally.” Without another word, she flipped her hair and strutted away. 

“How could she just do that to me?” I gave Jake a pleading look, wondering if he could give me some insight into this. 

“Alex, she’s obviously trying to get to you and it’s working,” He said, trying to bring in some real facts. 

We sat in my room on my fuzzy white bean bag chairs. I stared around my room at everything but Jake. My eyes moved towards my table, I noticed a picture of Miranda, Vanessa, and I. We looked young then, innocent, like the world couldn’t hold us back. I think back to earlier today with Vanessa, how could she turn into someone who’s so mean and uncaring? I felt like I didn’t even know who she was anymore. Then I looked next to the picture, it was a photo of Jake and I. It was from when we went to the carnival over the summer, in the background, there were colorful rides and those rigged games that you waste all of your money on. We had the best time at the carnival and you could definitely see it shining through the picture. Jake has been my best friend since we were in middle school. He practically knows everything about me and he looks out for me. I know what he’s saying is true, but something in me doesn’t want to believe him. 

I was drawn back to his eyes, they were filled with empathy. He kept trying to make me feel better, “Alex, you don’t need them. You have so many other friends, and if they are going to just turn their backs on you because you are standing up for other people, then why would you want to be friends with them anyway?” I was starting to agree with him. 

“Yeah, you’re right. I don’t want to be friends with people like that, I have you and all my other friends. I don’t need them.” I was feeling better as I kept talking to Jake. I wasn’t looking forward to school tomorrow, but I had to go. I laid in my bed that night thinking about what tomorrow was going to bring until eventually, I fell into the darkness of slumber.  

The next morning I tried not to think about all that happened yesterday. I didn’t want my day to be affected by it. I walked in and met Jake by the doors and he walked me to my class. We were standing outside the classroom door and all of a sudden my eyes were drawn to everybody passing me in the halls. Everyone that passed gave me glares, then they would turn to the people they were walking with and they would then both turn their heads towards me. No one was saying “Hi” to me like normal. No one was smiling at me as they walked by. It was only hateful glares. My heart started racing, I knew this was all from Vanessa. Then my head turned down the hall. I saw her and Miranda making their way to our class. Vanessa locked her eyes on me and I could see the satisfaction in her eyes. She knew what she had done, she thought she could get to me. I wouldn’t let her though. They stopped right before they went in through the doors. 

“How’s everything going?” She stared me down. She thought all of this would get to me. All this did was make her look weak and insecure. 

“Everything’s great Vanessa, thanks for asking.” I smiled at her, I wanted to let her know that her efforts to get everyone to turn on me weren’t working. I looked behind her and I saw Miranda. She looked like she wanted to say something. As if she didn’t like everything that was going on. 

“Well, that’s just great, isn’t it?” I could hear the bitterness in her voice. She wanted me to know she wasn’t done yet. She looked me up and down before finally strutting into the class. The bell finally rang and Jake made his way to his class and I made my way into mine. 

The school day seemed to last the entire school week. All that I got the entire day was glaring eyes and people turning their heads and whispering about me. Vanessa was getting the reaction she wanted. I was fine at first with all of the looks and gossip. It’s not as easy to deal with when you have it pointed directly at you non-stop for seven hours. I had thoughts running laps in my mind, whenever someone said something around me I immediately resulted to it being about me. My confidence was slowly draining and I felt abandoned. Everyone had turned their backs on me. I felt as if everyone thought I was sick with some type of infection that anyone could catch if they came close to me. I felt like I was the entertainment at the school. I didn’t want to show that it was all getting to me. 

I stumbled through the halls, thoughts racing through my head. I finally met with Jake and he immediately knew that I wasn’t feeling like myself. 

“Hey… Are you okay?” He knew I wasn’t but he also knew that I wouldn’t tell him unless he asked. 

I hesitated, “Yes…” He gave me an unbelieving look. I didn’t want to tell him, for some reason it was hard for me to open up. Maybe it was because I couldn’t gather my thoughts. Maybe it was because I knew when I started talking all of the flood gates I’ve been keeping held shut would immediately open and I wouldn’t be able to stop crying. “Okay. I’m not fine. This entire day everyone has been giving me looks and I can hear all of the things they are saying about me.” I felt the tears start streaming down my face. “I said one thing about how we shouldn’t laugh and make fun of other people and I’m getting all of this for standing up for somebody? It’s not right, and I can bet you that all of these people that are laughing at me don’t even know the whole story. ” Jake listened, he knew I was right too. He’s probably heard all of the things I’ve been hearing, if not more. He knows that nobody knows the true story, that Vanessa was starting the rumors.

I saw Jake’s eyes travel to someone behind me. I heard a feminine voice. My heart skipped a beat. I slowly turned, hoping it wasn’t the person who started all of this. My eyes first saw the designer brand shoes. Oh, no. Then my eyes slowly worked up to her face. I saw light blonde hair and pretty, blue eyes. It was Miranda standing there. I didn’t even bother to wipe the tears from my face, it wouldn’t hide the fact that I was crying. She looked like she was concerned about me like she felt bad that all of this was happening. She tried to say something to me but she looked lost for words. 

“Alex, I am so sorry about all that has happened.” She looked down at the ground seeming ashamed about not doing something earlier. She continued, “I knew Vanessa was mad, but I didn’t think she would go through all of this. I couldn’t imagine going through what you’re going through and I feel horrible about everything. I am so sorry Alex.” She actually sounded genuine for once, like she actually felt bad about this. 

I still felt hurt though, “Okay, but why didn’t you do anything about it before this all happened. Or say anything at lunch when she first started this whole thing by kicking me out of the table?” I could tell she was starting to feel worse about the situation.

“Honestly Alex, I didn’t know about anything Vanessa was telling people she did herself. She only told me after the fact that it was all said and done and I couldn’t do anything to stop her by then. I felt horrible when she told me, but she told me that if I went to you for anything that I would be kicked out of the group.” I was surprised, this whole time I knew it was all Vanessa’s work, but I just thought Miranda wasn’t doing anything to stop it.
“But you’re here talking to me. Vanessa said she would kick you out.” Miranda was starting to get some reassurance and confidence back in her eyes, and I could feel mine starting to rebound too. 

She continued confidently, “Yes, but I don’t care about that anymore. I don’t want to be seen next to somebody who takes down people who are supposed to be their friends. I don’t want to always be guessing and scared that she might do the same thing to me.” We were finally agreeing on something, and we were determined to set things straight. I looked at Miranda and turned back to Jake who was silently sitting there and watching the whole thing. He now had a smile on his face and I think he knew exactly what we were going to do. Miranda, Jake, and I began walking around the school and even though people were still giving me looks, we went up to them and told them the real story. 

Slowly, people started believing us and I started getting smiles instead of glares. Eventually, the group all went their separate ways and we all drifted to different groups, but Jake, Miranda, and I stuck together. Vanessa, on the other hand, doesn’t really have anybody. I feel bad, but now everybody knows what she is truly like. I’ve had many friends throughout high school, but I know who will stick with me and most importantly, who will stand by me when things get difficult. I’m grateful to be surrounded by people who actually care about me and avoid all of the drama that comes with being popular.



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