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Mean girls — we all know them. Whether it’s the girl who ruthlessly teased you in math class or the coworker who condescendingly commented on your presentation, the sinking feeling in your stomach is one we’ve all experienced at some point in our lives.
As a society, we tend to associate the term “bully” to explain the hurtful words and actions of children and teenagers. Yet as humans, we seem to forget that sometimes these rude habits aren’t outgrown. Mean girls differ in their age and their reasons for targeting us, but they all have one trait in common — they’re humans who attempt to make others uncomfortable as a response to being uncomfortable with themselves. Continue reading to discover the five things I’ve learned from real life mean girls.
1. Not every opinion matters.
In a world where social media has enhanced the importance of being accepted by our peers, it’s difficult to not let the opinions of others impact the opinion we have about ourselves. Critics are everywhere — from the peers who tell you the career you’re pursuing isn’t realistic to the manager who nitpicks every aspect of your work, people will always have something to say to you (regardless of if you ask for it).
Although all opinions should be heard, not all of them matter. These unnecessary opinions are the ones that attack you as a person and question your morals/ethnics. There’s a thin line between critiquing and being downright mean, and your gut feeling will tell you which one it is. If you’re feeling attacked for simply being yourself, you probably are — and it’s time for you to protect yourself by not giving what’s being said any more notice.
2. You don’t have to believe everything you hear.
While mean girls attempt to hide their insecurities by making others feel badly, those who are being bullied become insecure by listening to mean girls. Even though it’s easier said than done, listening to someone is a choice. If he or she is purposefully using words and actions to put you down, don’t let it sink in to the point where you’re allowing it to affect the confidence you have in yourself. Believe in who you are and stand tall, because those who are trying to make you feel otherwise are not people who are right for you.
3. You cannot control how others react to you.
We seem to have this idea that we can make ourselves less targetable by somehow becoming less noticeable. Regardless of if you stop pitching your ideas during a meeting or if you stop wearing your favorite hair accessory, mean girls will always find a reason to be mean.
Similarly to how we can’t explain why we connect to some people but can’t hold a conversation with others, there’s no clear answer for why or how mean girls choose who they’re rude to. In addition to this concept, you also shouldn’t have to dim yourself down or be an altered version of yourself in order to avoid the negative reaction that some people may give you. You are meant to be who you are and you owe yourself that privilege.
4. Confrontation is a skill.
There’s an art that comes with confrontation and it depends on the key to everything — communication. If you come off too hostile, people will become defensive. But if you come off too gentle, people won’t take you seriously. So where’s the middle ground?
All situations vary and so do their solutions. Mean girls usually don’t go away on their own without a form of confrontation. Nevertheless, be confident and make eye contact as you state your disapproval for how he or she has been treating you. Depending on the type of person you are, you can always ask a friend to come with you. Also, confiding in a loved one about your predicament is a great way to not only gain support, but also to receive advice on what to do.
5. There’s a positive lesson in every struggle.
Whether what happened taught you how to not take everything to heart or that you’re truly grateful for the people who support you, you wouldn’t have come to these conclusions without having to struggle to get there. Although the anxiety of being put down by someone is one we don’t look forward to, it’s also one that challenges us to stand up a little straighter and fight for ourselves a little harder. Once the situation has faded out, you’ll be that much more confident, wiser, and thankful for who you are and your strength to be it.