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There is no doubt that at some point in your life that you have had to deal with a mean girl, or even worse- mean girls! These adult bullies can appear in many forms such as a coworker, a boss, a friend of a friend, a fellow mom, a ‘frenemy’, someone from your past, or even on social media. This isn’t a topic that is touched on too much as an adult as we constantly were reminded throughout our childhood about bullies, so the subject in itself can seem childish because after all, we are adults now and should be able to ‘stick up for ourselves’ right? I vividly remember discussing mean girls with a friend from my past that basically told me I needed to grow up and that you can’t be bullied as an adult. Man were they wrong!
I have experienced mean girls in many areas of my life, which has always shocked me because I am a woman that loves my girl friends and have always had a plethora of many good girl friends. Ever since my school years, I have been a girl’s girl and loved the fact that I had many genuine good girl friends. I often times felt myself judging women who would say that ‘they only hang out with guys because it is less drama’ and the reason I would judge was because I couldn’t understand how any woman couldn’t find herself some solid girl friends. I dealt with my first onslaught of mean girls after I began dating my now husband. You see, his circle was small and once we began dating, many wives and girlfriends of his friends (for the most part) turned their nose up at me and made me feel very uncomfortable. We would go out to social gatherings and I found myself socially ousted by many of these women and it was an awful feeling, especially since these people never even gave me a chance; they simply didn’t like me because my man used to date one of their friends. I understand girl code to a point, but I have never in my life been shitty to a person I didn’t know simply because of who they date or used to date. I am the type of person to formulate opinions of people on my own instead of blindly following someone else’s opinion and I will remain that way for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, not everybody thinks this way. I have observed in many mean girl groups that there is usually a ring leader (Regina George) and the rest of the crew are the minions who blindly follow her. This may sound like a judgement or me being too harsh, but those people are very weak in my opinion. For one, I would never ‘follow’ someone or be apart of a group where a ring leader even existed. For two, I would never associate with someone who was rude, snobby, or exclusive to other women. Not everyone thinks like me though, and this is something I have had to learn over the years.
Dealing with mean girl groups and mean girls as individuals are different but also the same in the sense that you are dealing with adult bullies. The difference is that the mean girl group is ran by the main mean girl and her little weak minions who are intimidated by her so they submit to her instead of disassociate. I have had many friends over the years discuss mean girl coworkers or bosses and that can be a difficult situation to navigate. If it is your boss, you could potentially be at risk for losing your job if you speak your mind or make a complaint. If it is a coworker, you could fear for your status in the workplace as you probably don’t want to be perceived as the one who is complaining about another coworker or ‘starting drama’. My suggestion in these types of scenarios is to really take time to think about how you’re going to respond. When you respond out of emotion or in the ‘heat of the moment’ you could end up reacting irrationally and say something that you will later regret or make the situation worse. Talk to a trusted mentor about how they would handle the situation. If the mean girl happens to be your boss and the bullying has gotten to the point where you don’t want to work there anymore, I would really weigh the options of quitting that job at that point. Another suggestion would be to get in touch with someone in your human resources department as most companies and workplaces have some method in place to handle bullying or harassment in the workplace. Now if you’re debating quitting that job because the said mean girl is causing that much of a problem, and after you have exhausted efforts to speak to your leadership about the ongoing issue, I would quit if it were me. There is no job on earth (in my opinion) where you should have to suffer at the hands of a mean girl.
Fellow moms. This is a category of women that most mothers at some point in their lives have encountered. This is a really unfortunate situation as a mean girl mom is likely to produce mean girl offspring. When kids grow up around adult bullies, it normalizes the behavior and that is not ok at all. So if you yourself are a mean girl, you need to set a better example for your children. I have encountered many, many mean girl moms. Whether it was a mom of a kid in my daughter’s preschool or a mom of a kid in the neighborhood, there is usually not a shortage of mean girl moms out there. How do we deal with mean girl moms as an adult? Well it is fairly complicated. First thing, you could straight up have that conversation with said mean girl but remember to take the high road at all costs. Speak calmly and tell them how their behavior or actions are making you feel. The chances of the mean girl mom going into defense or full on attack mode are honestly fairly high. They could be more passive and act oblivious or unaware of their actions, or they could go on the offensive and turn into a complete bitch about the situation. If the mean girl chooses to go this route, I would calmly let them know that your assessment of their behavior was correct (adult bully) and that they are setting a very poor example for their children and leave it at that. It can be extremely tempting to want to counter-attack their attack, but this is not the right way to go. Rise above. Don’t slander them on social media or spread the gossip around the hen house, more than likely there are many other’s out there who have observed what you have observed so simply steer clear from the mean girl at all costs. I’ve never been a mean girl–literally ever– however, I have participated in gossip about other women and I genuinely feel bad about it. I don’t want to be that person so I strive everyday to be a better friend and to live in alignment with my truth. We can only move forward and progress in life when we acknowledge and own our mistakes and use them as learning tools. You first have to recognize your bad behaviors or actions if you ever wish to eliminate them completely. The chances of these mean girls finding real, meaningful friendships are slim to none as they are obviously not at a place where they recognize how their behavior impacts others and are simply selfish in the friendship category.
Now lets dissect what possesses an adult to act like a mean girl. First and foremost, plain old fashioned jealousy, envy, and insecurity. Oftentimes mean girls will observe their biggest perceived threat and threaten first as a way to establish dominance. You have probably seen this behavior on TV or observed if for yourself first hand. Say a gorgeous woman joins a workout group and the gorgeous woman who was apart of it first may feel intimidated or threatened by this newcomer so they start to make the newcomer feel unwelcome. I have witnessed this in many gyms that I have been apart of. I am the type of person that is extremely welcoming to new comers and I have never felt threatened by a woman prettier than me or stronger than me. Why? Because I love myself and am competing with nobody but myself. Unfortunately, not everyone has this mentality. It is extremely childish to view other women in this manner because if you focus on competing with other women, you are already losing. One of my favorite quotes is ’empowered women, empower women’ and I remember this quote every day. Not everyone has gotten the memo though and we have to understand that people operate from their level of awareness. Perhaps that mean girl has been the victim of mean girls and mimics that behavior as a means of social protection, or perhaps that person observed a parent who was a straight up asshole to other people. This behavior is learned and we have to remember here that they are more than likely victims themselves. The thing that I don’t understand about it though is if they know first hand how that type of exclusion or flat out mean behavior can feel and how it can hurt. Why would they want to hurt others if they know that pain? Again, my only conclusion is that people operate from their level of awareness and they are comfortable with their behavior, which sucks for them because who can be the best version of themselves when they treat other people like shit? Chances are they are miserable inside and if you do care about this person, get them to acknowledge that they need to do an inventory of their behavior and perhaps change a few things. One thing that I love to reiterate is that people can change and I believe that people are inherently good, which gives me hope for people that I have simply written off.
My advice is to not let these mean girls get under your skin or take up any unnecessary space in your head. When we are on the receiving end of a mean girl’s behavior it can hurt and can prevent US from being our best for ourselves and our children. Remember, people can only hurt you with your permission and this is something I have to remind myself of each day. Don’t give them a second of your time or energy because you have many more valuable people to spend your time and energy on. Remember that strong women lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. Teach your children to be kind to everyone and let them know that words and actions can hurt other people. If you have a friend who constantly talks smack about other people, especially about other moms, it is your job to set them straight, after all, they maybe completely unaware of how their behavior or actions are impacting other people. Stand up to bullies and let them know that their behavior is despicable and they need to perhaps pick up a self-help or personal development book so they can deal with their shit and stop taking it out on other people. Remember that hurt people, hurt people and don’t take their behaviors or actions personally no matter how difficult that may seem.
This can be a particularly tough topic to navigate if your child is the victim of bullying. My very own daughter has experienced bullying on many occasions and she was so upset over it that I actually had her switch schools. She is only 6 years old and the other girls there were telling her that her freckles were ugly, they didn’t like her curly hair, and they simply wished she didn’t go to their school. My daughter is one of the sweetest and compassionate humans I’ve ever met and she is deeply sensitive like her momma so it really broke my heart. Just the other day she saw two girls she likes to play with walking down the sidewalk and one of the girls invited Avery over and the other little girl abruptly told her to not invite her. Thank goodness my daughter didn’t hear because she would have been devastated at the thought of a girl she thought was ‘cool’ tell another kid to not include her. Kids can be jerks of course, but I just can’t help but wonder where they learn this type of behavior from. My child would never, I mean never, exclude or hurt another child’s feelings because I have pounded it into her worldview to include others, be kind, and be a good friend. My only advice is to empower your children to stand up to bullies and recognize that hurt people, hurt people and to try not to take it personally. Instill in your children self confidence and self-love so that another person’s opinion or approval literally has no impacts on their self esteem because they are confident and content with who they are.
If you want to be apart of the #mommaslay tribe, start by being a good friend and empowering other moms. None of us have any clue what people are dealing with behind closed doors, don’t be a person who adds to someone’s pain. Be a person who brings them the joy, be a person who uplifts them and helps them recognize their own strength and potential. If you have deep wounds that have led you to be a mean girl yourself, acknowledge that behavior, own it, and make a conscious decision every single day to be a better version of yourself. Be the change you wish to see in this world and I am serious about that! Lead by example and don’t let people on lower levels of self-awareness get to you, after all that is their intention– Don’t let them win!