I had always felt like a misfit in school. My friends,
although good and true friends, were not in the crowd of popular kids
in school. Besides, I was sure I was funny looking. I just didn't fit
Parading constantly before my eyes was "the fun group"
- the popular kids - always laughing and whispering, never sad or depressed,
skipping their way through school, the best of friends. Teachers loved
them, boys loved them, the whole school loved them. I worshipped them
and wanted to be just like them. I dreamed of the day that they would
My dream came true when I turned fourteen and I tried
out for the cheerleading squad. To my surprise, I was chosen. Almost
instantly, I was thrust into the "in crowd."
I felt like a butterfly coming out of a cocoon. I changed
my hair and the way I dressed. Everyone thought the change in me was
fantastic - new clothes, a new group of friends and a new outlook on
Almost overnight, the whole school knew who I was, or
at least they knew my name. There were parties and sleepovers, and of
course, cheering at the games. I was finally one of the popular kids.
Everyone I had hoped to know, I knew. Everything I had wanted to be,
Something strange was happening to me, however. The more
I was included with the "in crowd," the more confused I became. In reality,
these people were far from perfect.
They talked behind each other's backs while they pretended
to be best friends. They rarely had a truly good time but smiled and
faked it. They cared about what I was wearing and who I was seen with.
But they didn't care about who I was, what I believed in, what my dreams
were or what made me who I was. It was a shock to see them as they really
were, instead of as I had "thought" they were.
I began to feel a huge sense of loss and disappointment.
But worst of all, I realized that I was becoming just like them, and
I didn't like what was happening at all. I had to get my life back in
order. I concentrated first on finding out who my real friends were
- the ones who listened and who really cared about me.
They were the only ones who really mattered. I stayed
with cheerleading because I really enjoyed it. But I stopped hanging
around with only the popular kids, and I widened my circle of friends.
I found out that my real friends had never left me. They were simply
waiting for me to come to my senses. I finally realized that my original
friends were all I would ever need.
by Kerri Warren
from Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul
Copyright 1998 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Hansen and