By Meg Johnson
You Can’t Sit By Us
“Oh Meg! I am so glad I found you! I’ll never forget the day we met when you invited me to eat lunch with you and your friends.”
This is a message I got recently on Facebook. It came with a friend request from a gal I knew in high school. It had been 10 years since I’d seen her, but I remember lockering next to her. I remember hanging out at her house. I remember she wanted to be the official “bum-slapper” on the boys’ football team…
But I don’t remember inviting her to eat lunch with me. I just remember eating lunch together sometimes.
It’s funny how something so small and forgettable to one person can be so huge and lasting to another.
I don’t doubt that I invited her to have lunch with me. I was always inviting people to have lunch with me. This is mostly because I didn’t have a “set” somebody to eat lunch with. I always walked into the lunchroom alone.
…but I always walked out of it with someone else. And most of the time with several someone “elses.”
When I was in high school, I think other kids thought I was confident and popular, but I wasn’t. I just didn’t want to eat alone and the “cool” table looked a little too cool for me and I didn’t feel welcome there.
Most people didn’t.
The “cool table” was two of those long lunchroom tables pushed together where about 20 kids laughed and joked and smiled… but only with each other. To everyone else in the lunchroom, their faces said something else: You can’t sit with us.
I recently was shopping for some shirts at a clothing store. I wasn’t finding anything in the women’s area so I went and searched through the teenage girls’ section. As I rifled through the hangers, one by one, I audibly (and not quietly) gasped when I came to this one:
…as if some people really needed the help getting their point across.
No one – EVER – should wear a shirt that says the words “YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US.” Ever.
But we don’t need words on our clothes when the message “YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US” is written all over our face. Tight lips, haughty eyes, and upturned noses are just subtle nuances that speak loud and clear.
No shirt necessary.
But our faces can also say great things. When we see others’ eyes (instead of what they’re wearing) our face exclaims, “SIT WITH US.” When we smile at passing students, our silent message is heard above the lunchroom clatter: SIT BY ME.
There won’t be many things you remember about high school. In 10 years, you probably won’t remember your science teacher’s name. You might not remember who sat by you in choir. You won’t remember your locker combination.
But if your lunchroom face says “SIT BY ME,” there will be some who won’t be able to forget you.
I don’t often ask for you to share the stories I write. I just assume that you will if someone you love is weighing on your heart at the moment. But if I could just make a request, from all those who walk into high school lunchrooms alone, will you please share this? Share it with the high schoolers you know. The junior high kids. Even elementary. Help them to understand they don’t need a shirt to get their message across, their face can say it all. So let’s make sure our faces, voices, and hearts say to others, “Sit with us!”
Follow Meg on her inspiring blog: http://megjohnsonspeaks.com