Being stuck in the middle of a rumor mill is probably the worst thing that can probably happen to a person… well no… perhaps just at school… socially.
Back in the beginning of my freshman year of high school, I had a friend who was a real gossip. She was perfect and friends with everyone. Her best friend was also a huge player but an oblivious one nonetheless. We used to sit and gossip all the time in the athletic locker rooms together right before practice. After a lot of pestering, she finally got me to admit that I thought her best friend was cute, which later on, was interpreted to mean that I would be willing to go to homecoming with him, which later on, was then interpreted to mean that he was going to ask me and we were going to become the next “it” couple.
Like oh lord, save me. How petty.
The problem was that that guy was perhaps one of the sweetest people in the world, and due to those rumors in the beginning of the year which essentially ruined his chances of asking the girl he actually liked to the dance and ruined my chances of actually getting asked by the guy I liked at the time, we ended up… well, not on positive terms.
I could not help but feel terrible, though I only said three words to really spark it all. I got the rumor mill spinning with just three words… Oh goodness. And no, it was not “I love you.” Not those three. I had merely said, “Sure, he’s cute.” However, at the end of the day, the only thing I had really wanted from that conversation with his best friend was to be her friend. His too.
It was definitely tough. There was never a choice of believing me over his best friend for being the one to start those rumors, so I was the one who got her butt bitten as a result of saying just a little too much. Lesson learned.
Later on, we became friends… sort of. Though I cannot say that things were not at least a little bit strained between us after that original rumor. We had some pretty successful group projects, won quite a few debates together (after I beat him of course) and all that… but the arguing was a guaranteed. Guess we never truly got past that lame homecoming mishap.
Anyways, for those looking to stay out of the spotlight drama-wise for a bit, here is some advice from a girl who has probably been through it all.
- Never say too much. I mean it. We are all human, and that means we are inclined to lean or side with those that provide us with the most benefit. In other words, you never know when that person may one day sleep with the enemy and stab you in the back, figuratively of course. One of the worst feelings ever in a rumor mill situation is that feeling of longing… not for the other person, but a feeling of longing to be able to go back in time. Fix whatever was said that was just a smidge too harsh. Correct your mistakes. Un-say whatever sentence, or for me, three words, that spun up the rumor mill in the hills once again. It may be hard, but most days, I promise it is easier to just cut off a conversation where it started than deal with the consequences later, especially that publicly.
- Don’t ever use your feelings to buy friends. I know for girls especially, we all lean towards those girls who have the most friends and are the prettiest and all that. Sometimes, I know personally, I have too. I have used little snippets of gossip I hear from others or little snippets about my feelings towards others to gain another friend. Sooner than I probably expected, I was the center of attention… But not for a reason that I wanted to be.
- Be a well rounded person. I am betting that sounds a lot easier than it really is… And I guarantee you 99% of the population probably has trouble with this. However, at a middle and high school level, it is actually fairly simple. Get involved in different activities and busy yourself, so your attention will never be solely on guys or your sex life or anything along those lines. Additionally, people who seem busy constantly with a sport such as soccer, tennis, or dance (which yes, I consider a sport) or a multitude of after school activities such as Speech Team or helping with the Special Olympics are normally harder targets for the gossip queens than the ones that seem to be constantly buried in their phone on Snapchat or something like that. I do agree, with a certain sport or after school activity, certain people may be viewed as cooler than others… and then comes the rumor mill, but personally, I think the sports and activities behind the rumors made it just as worth it. If anything, they help distract you from the typically unwanted and sometimes unpleasant attention
- Don’t pick friends solely based on the drama in their lives. First of all, it can get pretty exhausting listening to someone complain about their boy troubles 110% of the time. I have quite a few friends like that, and sometimes I have to wonder, “When was the last time this person even asked me how I was doing?” Friendship is a two way street. Friends who base their entire lives and their entire collection of friendships on drama will only drag others in. Even if you are just that person that stood in the corner of a picture taken at a party with alcohol in pajamas trying to pick up a friend who drank a little too much… you will still be busted for being there. The easiest thing to do, despite how “cool” they may seem, is just to ignore those whose life is a drama sitcom in general.
- Overexaggerating is like bait. The rumor is the big poisonous fish. Despite how cool it may make you seem for showing up to a party and walking out with a guy… Don’t claim that you all “did the dirty”… Especially if it did not happen. And heck at that age, I do not think I would be proud for being known school wide as the “easy girl” or the “guy who can’t keep that zipper up”. Now this is definitely a far out example, but despite how cool or popular you think it might make you, you will definitely lose a lot of respect from the sensible few.
- Delete things that you would like to keep private, or simply forward things that are more on the sensitive or personal side to yourself via another chatting app. People can easily take your phone and scroll through pictures and misinterpret something to an extreme degree. Anything in your safari history too can and probably will one day be used against you… So all I am saying is be careful. Three wrong words can lead to a huge spinning of the rumor mill… Just as a seemingly harmless picture could be as well.
It is quite unfortunate that people today have resorted so much to spreading rumors and sometimes white lies about others for their own personal gain, but that is just the way it is. But once that rumor mill gets spinning… it is hard to jump off. You may not see the consequences now… But I promise they will be there. And by then, I hope that you will be able to collect yourself to jump off without being caught in another mill.
Special thanks to Sean for putting up with me after all those rumor mills. Lots of love.