In Crowd? Out Crowd? Right Crowd!


Getting in the “in crowd” was like trying to thread the eye of a needle with a cob of corn. It felt impossible! I had tried out for cheerleading, the drill team, the school chorus group, and the art club—I failed at all of them. I really cared about how other people perceived me, so I continued my quest for popularity and decided to join a club my school calls the “Mice Squad.”

Mice Squad is for girls, and Rat Squad is for boys. Together they make up the Pep Club. They attend the games and cheer from the stands, giving the cheerleaders a boost to get the audience excited. All the “who’s who” in the popular world of my high school were in this club.

On the way to the first meeting, my heart raced. This was it. This was my chance to be among the elite, the faces that everyone knew. And it didn’t even require singing or physical exertion. All it took to be in was school spirit, and I had plenty of that. I knew that beyond the door were all the popular faces, and I was about to become one of them.

Smiling, I pushed open the door only to see surprised looks when I walked in. Sarah [name has been changed], who was pretty popular, was leading the meeting. I didn’t know her very well, although during our sophomore year my father sometimes drove us to seminary together. I was glad to see her, as there were no other LDS girls in the room.

First Sarah shared with us how fun Mice Squad was going to be. As she talked, I became more delighted that I could be involved. I could just see myself at football games cheering, painting my face, and having fun with my peers.

After talking about the games, Sarah gave me an uncomfortable look and began talking about the parties. The first party was the initiation. She told us where and when it would be held. And then, to my horror, she explained that we had to drink alcohol to be in the Mice Squad. With this “requirement” so clearly stated, I sat there in shock.

I knew I had a choice. I felt impressed that I would have to leave them, or the Holy Ghost would leave me. A darkened feeling started in, but I waited to see if anyone else would leave. Then Sarah looked straight into my eyes and said, “If anyone reports us, we’ll come after you.” Immediately, I left the room alone, but the Spirit was still with me. I knew I was saying goodbye to my dreams of popularity.

It took me a long time after that meeting to realize that I had value, even though I was invisible to most of my peers. I realized that while I had chosen the “out crowd,” it was the right crowd. I knew the only opinions that truly mattered were my own and Heavenly Father’s. And I knew we were both smiling at my decision.

Now, after marrying in the temple and having three children, I still sometimes look through my autographed high school memory book. I always smile when I read the short note that says, “Thanks for being a girl with good works and for sticking up for what you believe in. Don’t let anyone sway you.”

Perhaps I wasn’t so invisible after all.

[photos] Photography by Welden C. Andersen

[photo] Above: Group photograph by Matt Reier

Lori Anne Ries is a member of the Tigard First Ward, Tualatin Oregon Stake.