As part of the blog tour celebrating the release of Tamara Ireland Stone’s Every Last Word, The Daily Quirk is thrilled to feature a guest post from Tamara, reflecting on her own high school experience.
Keep reading for Stone’s insights on the difference between high school friends and high school tribes, and be sure to check out our review of Every Last Word (spoiler alert: it’s amazing!) and enter the giveaway below to win a copy for yourself and your best friend!
Friends vs. Tribes: A Look Back at High School
by Tamara Ireland Stone
It’s easier to see some things from a good long distance.
If you asked me about my friends when I was back in high school, I would have told you they were funny, smart, outspoken, and genuinely wonderful people. Decades later, I can say with certainty that those things were true. But now, I can also admit that I never quite felt like I belonged with them.
We moved a lot when I was young, and I didn’t attend the same school two years in a row until high school. Once I got there, I desperately wanted to be liked, to find a niche, and to feel like I fit in.
The girls I met welcomed me right away, but I was also keenly aware of the fact that they’d known each other all their lives. They had stories and secrets and inside jokes, and when we were together as a group, that history often felt front and center. I often felt awkward. And I spent far too much time wondering what they were thinking of me, worrying that they didn’t thing I belonged, which probably made it even more awkward.
In my sophomore year, I took a journalism class, and found a way to channel my love of writing into the award-winning newspaper, The Oak Leaf. One journalism class turned into two, and then into three. I was elected editor-in-chief my senior year, and by then, it’s safe to say I was spending more than three hours a day in the newspaper staff office.
There were a bunch of us—reporters, editors, typesetters, layout staff, illustrators, columnists, headline writers—and we each had our place on the masthead. But I was interested in all of it. I wanted to learn about every aspect of the newspaper’s production.
I remember spending many lunch hours and late nights in the newspaper office. That room never seemed to be empty, and there was always good music on the stereo. Even if we weren’t talking, we were side-by-side, head-bobbing to the beat while doing our respective jobs. It was comfortable.
In Every Last Word, Samantha is introduced to a secret poetry club hidden beneath the school theater. The Oak Leaf office was in plain sight, but it’s the closest thing I’ve ever had to Poet’s Corner.
I loved that room. Looking back, that was where I felt like I belonged, felt like I fit in, felt at home, always. The people there were writers and I was a writer and we understood each other in a way I can’t quite explain.
I had wonderful friends outside those four walls, but looking back, my journalism team was more than that. They were my tribe.
It’s hard to articulate, but there’s something profound about being around people who love something with the same intensity you do. When I attended my first writing retreat five years ago, I felt it again, possibly for the first time since I left The Oak Leaf office.
As part of my marketing career, I’d been presenting to high-level executives for fifteen years, but sitting around a table and reading my own manuscript to nine total strangers felt overwhelmingly scary (if I’d known I was going to have to read aloud I never would have signed up for that retreat!). But I did it. And my fellow writers gave me praise and feedback, and man… it was so good to be in a room with word-nerds again! I felt such an incredible sense of support and belonging.
Those strangers quickly became my tribe.
It took me a while to learn how to surround myself with people who get me. It’s easier to stay put, even if you’re in a place of discomfort. And it’s tempting to try to morph into someone you think people want you to be, but if you’re with your true tribe, you’ll never feel like you have to.
If you’re interested in checking out Stone’s Every Last Word (a perfect summer read), enter to win a copy of your own courtesy of Disney Hyperion with the Celebrate Your Unique Selves prize pack. One winner will receive:
- Two copies of Every Last Word for you and a friend
- A $50 Visa gift card to enjoy a day out celebrating your friendship
Enter to Win!
Giveaway open to US addresses only. Prizing and samples provided by Disney Hyperion.
Be sure to check out all the stops on the Every Last Word blog tour:
June 15: AliceMarvels.com – Introducing the tour and Every Last Word
June 16: ForeverYoungAdult.com – An Inspiring Mind: On Writing a Positive Character with OCD
June 17: Fangirlish.com – Words, Walls and Wonderment: Welcome to Poet’s Corner
June 18: TheDailyQuirk.com – Friends vs. Tribes: A Look Back at High School
June 19: Hypable.com – Exclusive Excerpt: Every Last Word Chapter 2
June 20: GoneWithTheWords.com – The Final Every Last Word Playlist: “In The Deep”