I used to be the mean girl.
It was nearing the end of the school year, so that day in P.E. we were doing physical evaluations, followed by time for “free-choice” activities. A lot of us were just hanging out on the bleachers, and I thought that would be the perfect place for the “prank” to go down.
I gave my best friend’s bra to the loudest, most obnoxious football player I knew. “Go give this to Kasey and make sure everyone sees it.” and I sent him over to her.
Him: “Hey Stacy, did you forget something today?”
Kasey: (Made a confused face) “Um, no?”
Him: (while strutting in circles around her) “…Are you sure???”
Kasey: “What are you talking about?”
Him: (theatrically opens his letterman jacket to reveal that he is wearing Kasey’s bra.) “I don’t know, I just thought these were kind of important for girls… but I guess you don’t really need one yet.”
Kasey’s face turned white, then bright red, then she bolted out of the gym. As she ran past me, I saw the tears. At that moment, the weight of what I had done hit me like a truck. My face got hot and my heart sank – all I could think was “why did I just do that??”
I wish this wasn’t my story to tell. Having been bullied myself throughout middle school, it’s unthinkable to me now that I would have ever taken part in tearing someone else down like that. But I did.
Kasey and I never got back to a meaningful friendship after that. But I learned a few things from this experience and I’d like to share them with my fellow “meanies” out there, because I wish someone had done that for me.
There is no excuse for “mean-girl-ing.”
I honestly don’t even recall what happened that led to my mean-girl-moment, but I know it had to do with jealousy. Whether it was because Kasey had made new friends, or had nicer things, or I thought she was prettier than me, or whatever – it doesn’t matter.
She had done nothing truly wrong, and yet I decided she deserved pain. I wanted what she had, and because I couldn’t have it, I wanted her to suffer.
WHOA!!! Ya’ll. Do you see how messed up that is?
You need to know that your jealousy says more about you than it does about the person you are jealous of.
The Painful Truth: Jealousy is a symptom of insecurity. It happens when we begin to obsess over comparing who we are and what we have to someone else, and by our own evaluation we decide they have it better than we do. So we begin to actively search for flaws – anything we can find wrong about the object of our jealousy – in an effort to make ourselves feel better. And if jealousy goes unchecked, eventually it will stop being “just a thought” and will become hurtful words or actions. Here is the crazy part – often the people we become the most jealous of are the people we are closest to! We know each other well, or we admire something about them – but when we allow that admiration to sour and become jealousy, it can destroy those friendships.
The Good News: Being able to recognize a personal struggle with jealousy is a HUGE sign of maturity, and it can save you a lot of heartache and wasted time! Here are a few ways to deal with jealousy:
- Talk about it. Get out of your head and make it a real conversation. Be vulnerable (I know, easier said than done). But jealousy is paralyzing and vulnerability is the first step towards feeling alive! If you are struggling with jealousy, I encourage you to talk to a trusted friend, parent or mentor about it. Sometimes hearing ourselves say a crazy thing out loud is enough to convince us that it’s not right. (Just make sure that whoever you talk to is not going to encourage you to embrace those jealous thoughts or join you in gossip about another person.)
- Stop comparing from the sidelines and get in the game. Stop obsessing in the shadows and step into the light – go make friends with the girl in your class who seems to be amazing at everything. Or tell that awesome friend of yours (who you are always jealous of) all of the things that you love, admire and respect about her. Tell her that you love being her friend and that seeing her growth and success gives you confidence and hope for your own growth and success. Chances are, she feels the same way about you
- Learn to love yourself. Make a list. Whenever I find myself starting to struggle with jealous thoughts, I sit down and make a list. Not a side-by-side comparison of my life against someone else’s, but just my own “stuff”, good and not-so-good. I usually find that the good stuff outnumbers the bad, so I focus on that. But when the list of good things comes up short, I have learned to see that as an opportunity to grow. Example: Wish you had more friends? Go find some! They are there, but they might be in an unexpected place. Look for someone you can encourage or who encourages you and start there. Not feeling good about the way you look or feel physically? Take a walk outside. Eat something healthy. Read a book. These types of activities have a way of resetting your brain and giving you a fresh perspective. Feel like you are lacking talent or skill? Try something new! You never know what you are good at (or what you really enjoy) until you TRY.