I’m sure you didn’t mean to make me feel the way you did. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. I’m sure it wasn’t like you were intentionally trying to leave me out. And I’m sure you aren’t at all bothered by what has happened, at least not at all as much as I am.
What you don’t know about me is that as a child, I was bullied incessantly. I had a huge space between my two front teeth and wore clothes from Kmart. I didn’t come from a family with a lot of money and sometimes we had to get food from our church. These things made me a huge target for the kids who needed desperately to find someone to pick on to make themselves look better. To themselves and to their friends. It’s impossible to explain how it felt walking into middle school feeling good about myself only to have those good feelings crushed by almost anyone. As if someone’s life didn’t matter at all to them. I wanted, more than anything, to fall asleep and never wake up. I would have chosen death over walking through that school for one more day.
What you don’t know is that I have an alcoholic father who chooses alcohol over his family every single time he takes a drink. I remember as a child begging him to quit. The smell of alcohol on his whiskers. I remember him calling me from wherever I was to get him another beer. I remember the crippling feeling of being unlovable. If my own father didn’t love me enough to quit drinking, who would want me?
What you don’t know is that one of my biggest fears is not being good enough. How being left out of something, even something very small, plays into that fear. Causing me to question everything. Our conversations. My personality. Other people that we both talk to. I wonder what I can do to be better. I go into anxiety mode.
I’m not sure you understand how one action can turn my self-worth and self-esteem completely off. Even writing this makes me wonder how you will treat me tomorrow. I just want to fit in.
But, I am writing this. And let me tell you why.
You see, I work in the high school my son attends. He sent me a message this morning explaining that one of his friends was upset. He wanted me to talk to her. And so I did.
What surprised me most is that everything she felt, I had felt. The feelings of worthlessness, the feelings of not being good enough, strong enough, happy enough. How people she thought were friends had turned their backs on her. It was as if I were talking to my teenage self. In a moment like that, what do you say?
This girl is amazing. Bright. Talented. Incredible. How anyone can’t see that is beyond me.
I spoke to her without really thinking about what I was saying. I let my heart do the speaking.
No matter what, there is always someone who cares. How else would I have known she was having a bad day? And sometimes the people you really want to fit in with have the ugliest souls. Maybe the best relationships are with those around us who aren’t the loudest or coolest or what we think are most like us. Sometimes, the denials we hear from other people are what we can use as motivation. Prove the naysayers wrong.
As I have been dealing with self doubt the last few days, this girl reminds me that no matter what happens in life, things aren’t always as bad as they seem.
For every mean girl, there are several amazing women waiting to pick you up. It is up to us to surround ourselves with those strong women. To create a circle so strong and supportive that it would be near impossible to break.
What I want you to know is that your opinion of me does not matter. If you don’t like me, that’s your problem. I’ve got plenty of people who love me the way I am. And I won’t change for you.
I know the term, “mean girl,” doesn’t quite fit you. But when you come from a place where everyone’s intentions are to hurt you, you tend to see anyone who makes you feel bad as one. If that bothers you, I’m sorry. It is my problem, not yours.
For all the girls who have felt left out, bullied, unappreciated, or bad in general because of someone like you, I say thank you. For showing us exactly who we don’t want to be.
An empowered woman looking to change the world, if only for one person