Lauren, Eleanor, Marcy, Jessica, Jill….just a few of the “mean girls” over the course of my life. I wasn’t privy to the term “mean girls” until high school, which I now thank my lucky stars that I didn’t start getting bullied as young as some do these days.
My first real mean girl encounter was with Lauren and Eleanor. They were best friends and they tormented me in high school because I was everything they were not. They were ahead of me by two grades and basically “ruled the school.” They had all the honors classes and all the teachers adored them. They also had a lot of money and I had none.
It all came to a head when I was accidentally given Lauren’s yearbook – which I wasn’t supposed to see – and saw Eleanor and several other girls write horrible, awful, embarrassing things about me. I left school crying with her yearbook in my arms and when I gave it to my mom that night after being hysterical for hours about not involving her, I didn’t realize what fury that would unleash in her. She confronted Lauren in the high school parking lot the next morning – face to face and went mama-bear on her. I was both thrilled to have a protective mom and also terrified that this would do absolutely nothing to mitigate my very fragile reputation.
Honestly, to this day, if I ran into either one of them on the street, I would probably have to dig really deep to not spit on them. The wounds they inflicted ran deep and never truly healed.
In fact, fast forward to last year when another “mean girl” Jill hurled a 5-paragraph text my way trying to ensure that I felt small and worthless and to feel like no one in my new area liked me. And just last week when my former boss decided to tell me that after 7 months of working with her that I no longer had a job anymore because I wasn’t “quite the right fit” ….no other reason given, just not the right fit. I.E. She didn’t like me anymore and had the right and power to let me go.
As someone who has been the victim of “mean girls” since I was 14, you would think I would have it all figured out. That I would be able to rise above the petty drama and focus on all of the amazing, incredible, brilliant women that absolutely adore me and envelope me in their outstretched arms.
It fucking hurts.
Marcy was one of the popular cheerleader types in my high school. Her parents were wealthy and she was one of the super thin girls with shiny long hair – curled perfectly every single day – and multiple pairs of flared jeans and Doc Martens (which I cannot believe we dressed that way – really). I was poor and had one pair of flared size 12 jeans that I had my mom hem herself because they were too long and I didn’t have the cool Doc Martens, but the knock-offs from Walmart. I wore those jeans everyday for a solid week and went home and washed them every single night because I desperately wanted to fit in with the cool, pretty skinny girls.
We shared several classes together and she sat in front of me because her last name was alphabetically before mine. On that Friday, which was the 5th day I wore what I thought were the coolest jeans I owned, she gave me a look and said “Haven’t you worn those every single day this week? Don’t you have any other clothes?” And laughed. And because she was popular and pretty, the other kids sitting around her wanted to feel important and included, so they laughed too.
This was my life in high school.
I didn’t have a lot of girlfriends from this time in my life. I didn’t trust girls – for obvious reasons. So I shifted my focus to having boys as my friends. And that was o.k. In fact, I latched onto a very sweet, kind boy named David who is still my friend to this day.
In my 20’s I was focused on working and dating and figuring out what kind of person I wanted to be. I had one very close girlfriend during this time. Cindy was and is still near and dear to my heart. She was one of the few girls in my life up until this point that wasn’t terrible to me. I trusted her and she never hurt me.
When I was 25 I met my soulmate of a best friend. I remember the day that I met Jodi. She was wearing a denim skirt and a cute top and had the most amazing short sassy hair cut I had ever seen. She was tall and tan and waved excitedly at me upon walking up to the entrance of the restaurant that we were all meeting at. It was a team lunch for all of us newbies and it was the first time that all of us met one another. It was the first time in my entire life that I wasn’t scared of a girl walking into my life. I simply knew that I adored her. Almost 15 years later, she is still the person I call every single day – multiple times a day for every reason under the sun.
This is the time of my life that I finally allowed myself to trust other women. And I was pleasantly surprised. Jeannine, Gina, Julz, Darice, Suzanne….women who were beautiful and smart and who I could learn from. Jeannine was the most successful salesperson I had ever been around. Gina become my mentor and still is today. Julz taught me that you don’t have to love every single human you work with, but if you give them a chance, you can earn a mutual respect to have a thriving work environment.
In the last decade, I have encountered a handful of “mean girls”. They still exist. They are still out there, wrecking havoc and inflicting wounds. Even as I approach 40 years old, as much as good as I have seen in others, it still hurts when I realize I’m not someone’s cup of tea even after adding as much cream and sugar as I think they need me to.
I recently made a new friend and she embraced me enough to take me on an overnight trip to New Orleans. I told her about my latest “mean girl” experiences and she nodded, processing my words.
“Maybe they aren’t mean girls, though. What if they are just so insecure and so scared that someone else could be better than them or give the world something more than they can?” She said, sincerely.
She wasn’t playing devil’s advocate. She wasn’t trying to stick up for the mean girls or defend them in any way. She simply was trying to be empathetic to them.
And she is right. Maybe they aren’t all evil-hearted bitches. Maybe they are just really scared of another woman from threatening all that they know and love. Maybe they had some mean girls in high school that caused them to never know what’s like to have dear friends that you can have tough conversations with. Maybe their friend table is closed because they don’t want to get hurt again. My hope for them is that they discover their Cindy or Jodi or Jeannine or Gina or Julz….or Lindsay or Shannon or Bootsey or Heather or Sarah or Amber or Cammie or Roz or Nicole or Rachel or Jane or Lafayette or Bekah or Lavinzia or Mary Lynn…..and on and on the list goes.
I share this because I know how hard it is to let others in. Especially being hurt time and time again. Not knowing why someone doesn’t like you like even after feeling confident in your abilities or yourself is still a crappy feeling. It really sucks. We go around saying “It’s o.k. if not everyone likes me” and we tell our children that same sentiment; but it still hurts when someone doesn’t. The one thing I am learning is that someone’s opinion of me is none of my business.
So to Lauren, Eleanor, Marcy, Jessica, Jill and the others…..I forgive you.