Whether you're in elementary school, middle school, high school or college — cliques happen! No matter how old your are, there is a good chance you have felt the pressure to fit into specific cliques. We all like the feeling of belonging — whether it’s to a sports team, a club at school or a group of friends — it’s nice to find a common bond with others. While we might not consider ourselves a part of a “clique,” to others it may appear like we belong to an exclusive group. The word "clique" has a bad connotation. It reminds you of that one group of girls in your school that is snobby and mean to anyone who isn't as pretty, thin or smart as they are. Not all cliques are bad. Just because you have your own clique of friends to hang with doesn't mean you spend time talking behind other people’s backs, or judging them on how they look. There are both bad cliques and good cliques. Here are some helpful warning signs that should make you re-evaluate who your friends are: One of your favorite activities to do as a group is make fun of people, whether it is behind their backs or right to their faces. Your friends pressure you to do things you do not want to do, including drink alcohol or steal. Your friends pressure you to get into trouble with them, like cutting class or letting them cheat off of you on a test. They make fun of you when you do well in school. They make fun of you when you don't do well in school. They tease you if you have a different opinion from them. When you're a teenager, having a group of friends that you can relate to is important. This is the time when you want to break away from your parents and create links with people your own age, which results in the formation of cliques. And remember: in the end you are the one in charge of yourself! Your friends can be a great support system, especially when it seems like everything is going wrong. The group of people you associate with should be happy for you when good things happen and not be jealous. They can encourage you to do great things. You should be able to openly voice your opinions and values with your friends. You should be defined by your actions and values, not your friends! Just be you! Having great groups of friends is awesome, but it doesn't mean you should only stick to hanging out with one group. It's OK to branch out from your core group of friends. If you limit yourself to a clique, you'll miss out on all of the other interesting and fun people walking through the halls of your school. Read about cliques and how they affect you and your friends at BeingGirl.com.