As a 12-year-old girl, I learned the term “clique.”

This term manifested itself as the four girls in my 32-person sixth-grade class, who were the self-proclaimed “most popular” girls in our grade. The sad thing is that, due to their better-than-thou attitude and matching Juicy Couture velour hoodies, we believed they were actually better than all of us. More popular. Prettier. Funnier. Better liked.

For further clarification, even a basic definition of “clique” goes as follows: “A small close-knit group of people who do not readily allow others to join them.”

“Who do not readily allow others to join them.”

This chunk of the definition is wherein the crime of the clique lies: the exclusivity. The fact of the matter is that while being in a clique makes you feel powerful and valuable for those who don’t get the invitation, it sucks.

I remember my tween-self feeling so utterly sub-par, simply due to my lack of friendship with these other just-as-awkward tween girls. It’s ridiculous really, but it’s human nature to want to feel part of something greater, and jealousy is inevitable.

Promising myself I would never fall fate to the forbidden clique, I entered high school and found myself at the center of one. A member of a clique. A slap in the face to my former, unpopular self, if I’ve ever seen one.

But let me tell you, it felt great. I finally understood where these girls were getting their haughtiness from, it really was, like, tooootally empowering. I always had a group, a cluster of people to sit with who, not surprisingly, shared all my same sentiments. Slumber parties every weekend and we were, obviously, a package deal.

Who had I become? A totally vain, totally codependent bitch.

It bit me in the ass more times than I’d like to admit, friends turning on me at the drop of a hat, kicking me out of the group, having to start from square one, and vice versa.

Not much time passed before the wake-up call I needed: my dearest, clearly "most loyal," friends dumped me like an overread Seventeen Magazine. With the snap of their fingers, the blink of an eye.

My exile was arguably one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Some petty Instagram captions and a few stabs in the back later, the dust had finally settled and I was left, I would soon find, with the actual best friends I could ever ask for. Sappy, I know.

It came slowly at first, but I realized that not being in a clique actually gave me a much larger group of friends and added some diversity to my life. One of my best friends was on speech and debate, the other was on the soccer team with me, another was a year below me, one who was a year above me played volleyball; you get the picture.

Once again promising myself I would never fall fate to the forbidden clique, I entered college, but this time I actually succeeded.

I have my best friends, I have my acquaintances, yet I couldn’t list a specific group of people I would dub “my clique.” Some of my best friends barely know each other and it’s honestly great. My world is dynamic, I never feel stuck and never lack a new opportunity, simply because I chose to not placate myself with a narrow-minded group of people.

If you’re going to take anything from this article take this:

It’s totally fine to have a group of friends you love better than the rest. Yet, remember that it’s OK to have other friends, regardless of how far removed they are from the rest of your friends. Being cliquey is closing yourself off from a whole other world, and you’ll never know what you’ve been missing.