“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words can never hurt me.” I call bullshit. After years of experience, words can, in fact, hurt like hell. Instead of parents, teachers, and elders in general continuing to perpetuate this ridiculous sing-song to our children, we need to tell the truth: Words hurt. Kids today live in a world where people are constantly accessible to one another through social media, texting, and a whole heap of other outlets. They live in a world where judgment and opinions shoot out of people's finger tips faster than they would even be able to say it out loud. Words are King - and the good, the bad and the ugly can be heard by millions in an instant.
Bullies or "Trolls" have always been around, but are vastly becoming an epidemic in today's society. Your pigtails aren't just being pulled on the playground anymore. And here’s a little secret that slaps you in the face when you enter adulthood: some people don’t grow out of it!
You know what worse than a mean kid? A mean adult.
I’m no stranger to bullying. Moving to a new town is rough for any child. However, when you move from an extremely isolated housing lease in the middle of an oilfield, to a bigger city on the wealthier side of town, it can be crippling. From my clothes, to my long hair, to my big buck-teeth and my general tom-boy nature, nothing was off limits. They didn’t throw sticks and stones, but they threw shade like it was a fastball aimed straight at my gut. This is where I was first introduced to my life-long enemy, The Mean Girl.
Don’t get me wrong, I had boys teasing me even more ruthlessly than the girls at times. But after waking up one summer morning and suddenly having boobs, that teasing promptly stopped. The Mean Girls, however, have never stopped. My Mean Girl has had many different faces over the years and her reasons for hating me have evolved over time. I’m finding out that for a lot of women, the bullying doesn’t stop after graduation like our teeny-bopper movies would have you think.
It’s insane to me that we live in a time where women around the world can watch as thousands march together to fight for our rights, yet we’re not even nice to one another in our everyday life. The movement of “women supporting women” is making headway, but for every uplifting post you see you can find just as much judgment located directly below in the comments. If we instead jumped to give grace and support to one another as fast as we jump to conclusions or spout judgment – that would be the true revolution.
No one ever tells you you’re still going to be cyber-bullied even after you graduate college. No one ever tells you grown women will text your boyfriend that you’re fat and ugly - even after you’re grown up enough to pay a mortgage. No one ever tells you that becoming a mother (and/or step-mother in my case) only gives them more material to tear you down and tell you how you’re doing it all wrong. Mean Girls never change. The only thing that can change is your reaction to them.
Instead of singing the nursery rhyme full of LIES every time I found myself crying into the glow of my phone, I found new words to live by:
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
- Eleanor Roosevelt
By my own nature, I HATE when someone doesn't like me. It bothers me to my core. I hate when someone believes something about me that isn't true, or I can't convince them otherwise. I also hate confrontation to the point where I would literally vomit every time something hurtful would pop up on my phone, feed, or in my life in general. I would love to tell you that when I began folding this Eleanor Roosevelt quote into my life that everything changed. The clouds parted and that I no longer cared what people thought of me.
I still care.
However, now I am honest about who I am and I celebrate it. Most importantly, I know my own truth. If someone wants to waste their time hating you, or having negative thoughts, feelings, or opinions of you - that is a waste of their time - not yours. Stay your true North and do not let someone make you feel inferior. Know your faults, admit them, and be honest with yourself about who you truly are. But never apologize for the things you cannot change or for the shrewd opinions of the immortal Mean Girl.
I will continue to move forward in my life and spread kindness. I truly believe if you spread positivity and love, the universe gives it back to you. Will you still run into a few Mean Girls? Of course. Will it still hurt? Hell yes. But your attitude and recovery time in your new positive head space will heal your wounds much more quickly. You will start to feel sad FOR them, and not BECAUSE of them.
Their words WILL hurt me - but they will never have the power to change my truth - and that has made all the difference.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the LORD. 20On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. -Romans 12:17-21