We have all done things in the past that we aren’t proud of–things on which we look back and feel shame or can’t believe we ever did. My shameful past is my history of being a mean girl.
To be fair, at the time I thought I was being cool and that I was making power moves. In retrospect, I was being a jerk; I was insecure and seeking validation from my peers.
Growing up, I was always a shy child–some might say quiet or even scared–and rarely responded when I was spoken to. Overtime, my reputation as “that quiet girl” who didn’t have any friends solidified. I felt invisible, lonely and I hated school – so I stopped going. Needless to say, I wasn’t doing so well socially or emotionally and felt a strong case of alienation and isolation. While I didn’t know what those things were at the time, I knew that I had no friends and I hated it.
Fast forward two years later. At this time I was about 15-years-old and somehow managed to gain friends. I was even somewhat popular among my peers. What changed?
I was mean to the people around me.
I was putting other girls down and slut-shaming them while constantly seeking validation from my audience.
It started out with a few snarky comments (some of them were funny) that amused my friends. Eventually, sassy comments snowballed into something a lot more toxic than I ever expected it to become. I was putting other girls down and slut-shaming them while constantly seeking validation from my audience. I watched “Gossip Girl” and idolized Blair Waldorf (she’s not a positive role model, girls!), and thought I was everything!
Like a scene right out of “Mean Girls,” my life and the circle of people I associated with began to grow into something way too big for myself. I surrounded myself with people who were catty to each other, and I with them – all to make ourselves feel better about who we were.
The weird thing was, I was still that shy person, I didn’t know how to interact with people without overcompensating for my insecurities.
Being a teenager is hard–you’re going through mental and physical transformations all while experiencing emotions that may be difficult to deal with. It was during these years that I allowed my newfound popularity get to my head.
You see, girls are told that we must be a certain way to be respected or liked – we are made to believe that other girls are our competition.
I know now that it stemmed from a place of insecurity, and maybe even a whole lot of internalized misogyny. You see, girls are told that we must be a certain way to be respected or liked – we are made to believe that other girls are our competition instead of support. I learned this along the way, though: Comparing yourself to other people will always bring you down and lead you to act in ways that aren’t healthy or nice. In my case, I put up a hard exterior and hurt other people to feel good about myself. I was far too young to process any of this at the time, and I didn’t realize that I was hurting myself along with those around me.
It was when I loathed the person I was becoming that I realized it was important to break away from all that negativity. Luckily for me, I was able to move out of there and got a chance to reinvent myself into the person I knew I could be – a kinder and stronger being that could nurture and build up people rather than break them down.
Here are five things I learned along the way to becoming a better person and ditching the mean girl attitude:
1) Other girls aren’t your competition.
Try to be the best you can be, but don’t compare yourself to other people. You’ll find yourself in a constant race with no real prize at the end. Working together to empower and uplift our sisters is a much bigger prize than standing alone at the finish line with no one to celebrate with.
2) Be true to yourself.
Don’t lose sight of who you are, and don’t try to be someone you’re not just to feel accepted. There’s someone looking up to you out there for who you authentically are. Stay true to yourself.
3) Surround yourself with people who support you.
These people will always bring the best out of you, inspiring you while allowing you the opportunity to inspire them and others. And really, who doesn’t love the ultimate power squad of girls who run the world with kindness and motivation!
4) There’s no room at the table for judgement.
“Live and let live!” Or so, that’s how the saying goes. Who are we to judge others? I could probably go on with quotes for this one. “Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Oh! And don’t forget, “Walk a mile in my shoes…” The thing is, we really don’t know what others are going through in life. Who are we to judge?
5) Don’t try to please other people.
When you try to please other people, you end up doing things that you might not be proud of later on in life. So just keep doing you – and if someone doesn’t like it, so what? You’re still a boss, it’s your life – it’s your narrative. Tell your own story.
I now know, years later, that I don’t need to put others down to feel superior, and I don’t feel the need to compare myself to those who are doing great in life. This doesn’t mean that I don’t get insecure every now and then, because I do. I just know how to cope with it better now and have a better understanding of who I am and who I want to be.