Not proud to admit it, but a long time ago, I was a mean girl. Not the glamorous kind that wear pink on Wednesdays, but the kind of girl who felt so insecure with herself she took it out on the girls around her. Sure, I ran around with the “popular” crowd but I certainly didn’t fit in. Truth is, I’m not even sure how I earned a spot there. It never really felt natural. It always felt like a competition to stay there.
Here I sit, a 30-something woman and I can’t help but think back to my “mean girl” days with disgust, shame and guilt. I wish I would have had ways to deal with my insecurities. Ways much more productive than tearing down the girl in the grade below me. What makes a girl feel so completely inadequate that we decide we are going to break down the girls around us? I look back and wonder, “How on earth did this happen?” But the answer is simple. It’s a nasty and vicious cycle. I was bullied, ridiculed, and made fun of by other “popular” and older girls. Naturally, I followed suit.
But you see, by following this path, you end up becoming the very girls and people that you despise. You end up becoming a clone for all of the characteristics you hate in a person. You end up making others feel just as awful, insecure, and nonexistent as you did. The end result: you stay insecure and broken, but you also become a big hateful bully in the process.
Today, as a mother, I hope and pray the cycle isn’t the same as it was when I was an adolescent. I pray that my daughter never encounters a “mean girl” and I vow to raise her so she doesn’t become one herself. I will build her up and ensure she knows she is supposed to do the same for others. As women, we should be cheering each other on. We should be congratulating each other on our victories, not feeling intimidated by them. That is the kind of girl tribe I want my daughter to know. The kind with no limits or boundaries. The kind of tribe that leads with compassion, kindness and respect.
To the Girls that Encountered Me as a “Mean Girl”:
I’m sorry, truly sorry. You knew the 15-year-old girl who was insecure, scared, intimidated and extremely vulnerable to persuasion. I hated myself but didn’t have the courage to address why, so I took it out on girls in my path. I was dealing with demons inside that often manifested themselves into hurtful words and ridicule to those around me. I’m ashamed to admit these truths. It’s not easy to accept the person you used to be, especially when that person was full of self-doubt and destruction.
I was so busy trying to fit in and be “popular” that I ignored my moral compass. I ignored my heart and the person my parents raised me to be. I became unrecognizable. I was a follower. I desperately wanted to blend in so that no one would notice my flaws.
You became a target because you were close, not because I actually thought less of you. Truth is, there was probably something I admired about you. Jealousy is really just a coward’s admiration. I was a coward back then. I hope you can see me now. I hope you see the woman I have become. I hope you see that I have a kind heart and a humble spirit. I pray that if you look back on your school days and can remember a time that I made you feel inadequate, know you were not, I was. Please know that I’d do anything to change that memory.
Afterall, dimming another woman’s light, doesn’t make yours shine any brighter!
A thirty-something wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.