An Open Letter to the “Mean Girl” From My High School

mean girls

Mean girls are the worst. And I know this because I was one. I wasn’t quite Regina George from “Mean Girls,” or even Kady, Lindsay Lohan’s character from the same movie, but I wasn’t nice. I was a teenage girl at her worst, and I look back on that time with serious regret. I never picked fights with people, or blatantly called people names to their faces – that I really remember, anyway – and I never treated people the way that the real mean girls in my school treated others. But believe me that I was friends with the mean girls, and I laughed alongside them as they did mistreat people to their faces.

I still know a few of them today thanks in large part to social media, and they have not changed. They are insulting, rude and not very nice. The good news, at least in my opinion, is that karma seems to have gotten them. Not one of them seems to be doing anything noteworthy or worthwhile in their lives and they seem to be stuck at the bottom making no effort to better themselves. It’s as if they peaked in high school and never made it anywhere else in life. Petty, yes; but sometimes I remember the way that they behaved in school and I think that they deserve everything that they’ve been handed in life because of their negative attitudes and their rude personalities.

On that note, I am absolutely ashamed of myself. I am horrified that I was ever a party to that kind of behavior. I wasn’t the one being rude to people’s faces and making them hate their lives, but I watched it, laughed and let it happen. That makes me feel very small, very ashamed and very unhappy. I can’t change the past, unfortunately. But I can change the future, and I made that decision a long time ago. As I grew up, I learned very quickly that I needed to form my own confidence and not worry about offending others for not agreeing with them. It’s made my adulthood that much better. And it’s taught me that I have to teach my own daughters differently.

I don’t want them to behave as I did. I don’t want them to be weak, but I also don’t want them to grow up and assert their strength with cruelty and malice. For that, I’ve decided to draft a small open letter to the mean girls in high school – myself included.

Dear Mean Girls,

I get it. I see what you’re doing. You’re insecure. Perhaps you don’t come from a great family. Perhaps you hate yourself. Perhaps you are living a miserable life with families that aren’t supportive and you have no structure and no boundaries. Perhaps you have little self-esteem and confidence, and that’s why you stand here and you make fun of the way people look. Perhaps that’s what makes you feel good.

Perhaps you stand by and watch your ‘friends’ – who we both know will turn on you in an instant – make fun of others and treat them poorly because you don’t have the courage to stand up for others. Perhaps you are weak and you are afraid that you will be their next target. I get it – I do. But these girls – you girls – you don’t matter. And while your attitudes might make you feel as if you are better than people today, that’s how it works. Look to your right; those girls standing there next to you, they’re not standing there out of loyalty and friendship and love; they’re standing there because they are too afraid of you to walk away.

One day, you will go off to college and those girls will never call you again. You will never see them again because this is their chance to break free of you. This is their chance to get out from under your scary wings and become people that they like and respect. Your friends aren’t your friends because they want to be your friends; they are your friends because they are too afraid not to be your friends.

Mean girls, you can do better than this. Do you really feel good making people feel poorly about themselves? Have you ever tried helping someone, or doing something nice for someone who really does appreciate your actions? Do you know how good that feels? That’s what real happiness and real power feels like; it feels like being able to give back to those in need. Real power is not taking from people something that they probably have very little of in the first place; it’s giving them something that they might not find otherwise.

When you grow up, your personality is not going to get you very far in life. People, adults, recognize a mean girl. They recognize entitlement, they recognize attitude and they recognize your lack of self-confidence and your sadness. And guess what: They don’t want to take that on. Most people don’t want that in their lives.

Sure, you might think that making fun of someone’s weight or hair or the fact that she can’t afford designer clothes is funny – it’s not. Think about the Heidi Klum’s and the Julia Roberts’ of the world, who were made fun of for being funny looking or different growing up. Look at them now. They’re more successful that most anyone, and that’s because they were able to overcome the words of the mean girls they grew up with.

The person that you are right now; it’s not a good person. The person that you are right now has no real friends. The person that you are right now needs to change. You need to give back, be kind and be the kind of person people want to see coming down the hall instead of the one that they dread seeing. You know that old saying that everyone brings happiness into the lives of others, some when they come and many when they go?

Be the person that brings happiness when you arrive, not when you leave. Your legacy; that’s what that’s all about.

PS – I want to add something. When my husband and I attended my 10th high school reunion a few years ago, I was nervous to see many people. It was almost five years ago. I was scared. I thought maybe people would not be very nice to me since I wasn’t very nice to them. Fortunately, most people seemed to have grown up – myself included. However, when I excused myself to go to the ladies room, my husband was approached by a man I don’t remember. He asked my husband if he was married to me, and proceeded to tell him that he’s successful and very happy now, even though I once told him that he was a nobody, not important.

It took my husband a few days to tell me this story, because he wasn’t sure it was appropriate. The person in question lives in another country now, so it’s not really affecting me in the least. It turns out, I have no recollection of this boy from school at all. His name doesn’t ring a bell with me in the least. For that, I was so ashamed. I think about that often; the fact that I would ever say something so horrible to someone else – it wasn’t nice. I am deeply apologetic, and I wish my husband would have said something to me that night so that I could have sought out this individual and apologize. My husband knew I would want to do this, and he said that he felt this man was just so angry he didn’t want me near him – and that’s why he chose not to tell me.

Regardless, I am so ashamed of my actions – my words. What I take from that is that kids are mean, and I am burdened by that. I never want my kids to behave in this manner, and I’ve made a huge effort to be kinder, more tolerant and much nicer ever since. I don’t want my kids to see that and think that it’s all right. I have a small bit of knowledge that at least my actions back then have changed me today and that I can make a difference now, even if I was horrible then.

Photo by Playbuzz


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