"The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls is a Masonic service organization for girls ages 11-20. It teaches leadership and public speaking skills."
That was my spiel any time anyone asked me what the International Order of the Rainbow was. I didn't give them any more or any less information than that, unless they asked for more.
I joined Rainbow on August 25, 2010. I was wearing a long black dress in an unfamiliar place where no one was friendly to me. Over the next eight years, I stayed in Rainbow, and only one thing changed: I didn't wear black.
Rainbow is a wonderful organization, and I love everything it stands for. It builds a girl's confidence and allows her to experience many things. It was an experience I wouldn't trade for the world--unless I could trade it for an experience where I made friends.
Everyone I know in Rainbow talks about how they've made sisters for life after meeting other Rainbow girls. Unfortunately, I never got that experience. I joined Rainbow because my friend was a member, and I met lots and lots of girls in Rainbow, but my only friend was still the girl who got me in.
Some events aren't my story to tell, but soon my friend left Rainbow. She's very happy in her life now, and I talked to her just the other day.
After that, I didn't have anyone. Sure, I talked to people and knew everyone's names, but that doesn't mean you have friends. I often sat by myself at lunches. I purposefully sat at an empty table so people would sit with me, but they all decided to ignore me and crowd in at other tables.
I moved up the ranks as the years went by, and last year was the best year in Rainbow. I had gotten my second-favorite office position, and I was seated by people who didn't ignore me.
I felt as though I had a purpose.
But all good things come to an end. People left, and offices changed.
This year was my last year in Rainbow. May 28, 2018, is the last day I'll be able to call myself a Rainbow girl. I can't wait.
My last year has been miserable. If I thought my first five years were unbearable, I was wrong.
My mom says I have problems with people, and that's why no one in Rainbow likes me. She often tried telling me to just quit, but I wanted to see it through.
I've had adults tell my mom that I seem unapproachable. What they don't see is the community that the girls have built to shut out anyone who is different than them.
I've been completely excluded from many events this year, which devastated me after how wonderful last year was.
I contact so many people trying to find things out, but no one answers. I've completely given up on hoping that I could be included.
What Rainbow stands for is amazing. I close my eyes sometimes and imagine exactly what it could be, what it has the potential to become. But the culture that has been built within the ranks is worrisome.
I was afraid to be myself because no one liked me when I tried showing who I was. But no one liked me when I tried to be more like them, either.
Girls in Rainbow only have one color, and that's the color of exclusion.
Every year, I cry when girls leave the organization because they've aged out. But this year, when it's my turn, my eyes will be dry.
Because Rainbow, you were never mine.