“You may be pretty, and you may be talented, but no one will remember that if you’re mean.”
– Katie Holmes
In a different time and place I was a mean girl. I certainly wasn’t the meanest of mean girls – but I was mean nonetheless. I wasn’t particularly popular but I hung out with the same few girls and we were a bit cliquey. One of our group traits was to exclude a girl a year. I wish I could remember how we decided whose turn it was to be “on the out” – but I have a feeling it wasn’t really planned. Suddenly, that girl just wasn’t cool anymore. We no longer invited her to events, asked her to sit with us at lunch and generally ignored her and talked bad about her behind her back. At the time I didn’t think much about it or how the “outed” girl felt. I was super tight with the ringleader and never really worried much about my stance.
That is, until I wasn’t.
One day – my friends no longer wanted to talk with me. They switched out of classes we’d signed up for together. My clothes weren’t cool. My hair was dorky. I was ugly, stupid and just plain annoying. No one wanted to be my friend. When I walked to class I went alone. When I tried to talk to my “old friends” they ignored me completely. No one slipped me notes in class. No one invited me to share lunch with them.
It hurt. So.Freaking.Bad. Even though it was more then 20 years ago I remember it like yesterday. The rejection. The confusion. The pain. The endless wondering: “What did I do wrong? Why don’t they like me anymore?”
Unfortunately, I think we can all relate. It seems like every woman I know has some version of this story in her history. So – when I saw this video for “The Kind Campaign” I knew I had to share and make it part of the Kind Year. The two woman that started this campaign were both bullied and want to help stop what they refer to as “girl on girl crime.” Girl on girl crime is a broad classification of all the horrible things we – as woman – do to each other. The cattiness. The backstabbing. The ugliness. So – they went on a journey, talked to men, women, girls and boys – and made a documentary. In addition, they created a website where girls can come and share their stories, and even an area where girls can apologize for their own “mean girl” actions. I kind of love it.
The Kind Campaign: https://www.kindcampaign.com/kind-girls/
So, as a former mean girl AND a victim of “girl on girl” crime – I applaud what the Kind Campaign is trying to do. While it’s been a long time I’ll never forget the pain I felt as the “bullied” and how much hurt I must have caused as the ‘bully-er.” I know some mean girls grow up to be mean women but my time “on the other side” really made me realize how awful it is to feel like you are disliked and unloved by your friends. For about six months I tried desperately to get these girls to like me. No matter what I did – I only made it worse. They seemed to like me LESS the more I tried. So – I finally gave up. I woke up one day and realized I didn’t need them. I realized that they were at least 100 other girls in my class that could be my friends. I decided to step back and look at my life and these girls. Did I really want to be friends with people that would so easily discard me?
In retrospect, being bullied changed me. It made me take a long hard look at myself. I didn’t like what I saw. From that moment on I swore I would live a life where I was kind and caring NOT cruel and belittling. I can’t say I was perfect in my quest – but I was a nicer, happier person. I met a lot of really great girls in my high school that I had never known. I became friends with a whole different group of people and overall felt better about myself. Ironically, once I no longer wanted to be part of my old crew, they all wanted to be friends with me again. At that point I let them back in – but never felt comfortable or safe with them.
As an adult and Mother, my quest is to make sure I am raising my kids to be respectful, kind and caring. They both know that they do not need to be best friends with everyone, but they do have to be respectful. Be kind. Say hi. Smile. Give of yourself. It’s a message that I hopes carries through their childhood into their adult lives. Kindness can change everything.