When I was in the sixth grade, there was an eighth grader named Molly who decided that she hated me, and even campaigned to get others hating me too. So, you can imagine my surprise, when some 15 years later she requested my friendship on Facebook. When Molly’s friendship request came through, I immediately denied it. It was almost a reflex. I saw her name, my heart said "nope," and I went about my day. But, shockingly, a few days later she requested me again. This time, I paused and did a little Facebook stalking. She didn’t have braces anymore. She had recently gotten married, and seemed to be living a nice life. Good for her, I thought to myself — but not before hitting “deny” again. The next day, I had a third friendship request from Molly. I couldn’t believe it! Why the desperation to be friends — on Facebook, no less — after all of those years of middle school cruelty? Molly was a very effective bully. Her tactics were slick, flew under the radar of teacher’s eyes, and upset me deeply. What's worse: She saved her eighth grade venom for sixth graders who weren’t equipped to stand up to her like her peers might be. What a coward. If only I had that clarity then.
I have three vivid memories of Molly Morgan. I remember being the only sixth grader in the chorus of the school play along with Molly, and a few other eighth graders. When we were given directions to react, chat, and engage with each other during a scene. So, she stepped in front of me, and huddled up with the other girls leaving me to chat and engage alone — her back to me. I remember Molly announcing, loudly in the cafeteria, that my high-top sneakers from Target looked like converse, but they were actually fake because they didn’t have the white “All Star” circle on the outside ankle. This was news to me; at the time, I didn’t know the difference. I just knew I liked the sneakers. But of course, I was mortified. That was Molly's intention — to make me feel small, and stupid, and not good enough. I also remember joking and laughing with one of her classmates, two years above me. Molly approached us with a look of disdain on her face, looked at me, and then asked the other girl “WHY… do you TALK to her??”. The 8th grader lowered her eyes for a second, then looked up at her, and bravely said: “Because, she’s cool.” Molly just rolled her eyes, and stormed off. My heart swelled with gratitude that an older girl had stood up for me, and I wondered if maybe Molly would back off. Unfortunately, that was not the case. My only memories of her are negative ones: Being forcefully ejected from school bus seats, and talked down to, or getting ganged up on with Molly as the leader. When I received her Facebook request, I honestly could not conjure up a single good thought, which is why her persistent online friendship requests were confounding. Didn’t she remember that she hated me?
But, life is full of ironies, isn't it? As an 11-year-old, I thought life would be so much better if I had Molly’s approval. And, now here she was, asking for mine.
The third time she requested me I considered it for a bit. I could take the high road, and accept her as a friend, because it’s just Facebook, so who cares? I could send her a confrontational message about the way she treated me 15 years ago. I could deny her again. As an adult, I have perspective. I can look back and say that her bullying us sixth graders, me in particular, probably had way more to do with how she felt about herself, than how she felt about me. I can also assume — or hope — that she’s a different person than she was then.
But, I’m a different person too. I’m not the six-grader who needs to be accepted by everyone anymore. I’m a person who knows my value, and I know that I have a right to choose who I allow into my space, whether it’s in person, or on social media. Based on the way Molly treated me when I was young, she has not earned the right to watch my life unfold via Facebook. In the end, I chose to deny her friendship yet again, and then I blocked her because I didn’t want to keep thinking about her.