Imagine this… you’re a forty-four year old career woman working at a university minding your own business as you walk to the bathroom, when suddenly the giggles and snickering of little girls rise to your ears. As often happens at universities during this time of year, students mingle around hallways and doorways of professors in hopes of being better prepared for final exams or to get extra credit to improve their lagging grades. This past Thursday was no exception. My office happens to be in a portable building and the nicer restroom happens to be in the adjacent building a few hundred yards away. There I was minding my own business making my way to the restroom when I catch sight of a group of young women hanging out in front of a professor’s office which happens to be next to my destination. Normally I don’t think much of it and simply walk past students to make my way to take care of business, especially if I have to use the potty. This day, however, was a little different.
As I walked past and politely excused myself for walking in between two young ladies in deep conversation about a project that was due, I noticed that they abruptly stopped and from the corner of my eye I saw one of them eye me up and down. That wouldn’t have bothered me normally, but what the two young women did next was plain rude. I turned to go into the restroom, and heard the “girls” giggle… snickering even. I shook it off as immaturity and tried to give myself a pep talk by running through my I Am statements in my head and reminding myself that I had bigger things to think of than this. Who were they to judge? Even more so, why should I care about their opinion of me, since we do not know each other. When I came out of the restroom, only one of them was still there. I could have stopped and confronted the young lady, and given her a stern lecturing, but I felt losing my job for verbally lashing out at a student was not worth it. I chose to let karma do its deed instead. Perhaps she would fare on her final exam or project accordingly based on her behavior toward an innocent passerby.
Mean girls. Yes, they exist well beyond our teenage years of angst and self-consciousness and the need for approval from our peers. Hopefully, as we get older and come into our own right, we do not feel the sting of cruel or judgmental words. Sadly, though, that isn’t always the case. I consider myself to be an accomplished career woman, beautiful in her own way, and genuinely happy with life because I choose to be so and have done relatively well in my circumstances. But every now and then, even I run into modern day mean girls and that old familiar tinge of a pricking pain returns. It doesn’t last long, usually a few seconds or two, but I do still get it from time to time. The difference between my old teenage self and my grown woman self, however, is that the value of others’ perceptions of me (no matter how inaccurate) no longer renders me immobile and paralyzed. I am comfortable in my own skin and I love the person I have become. Sadly, it may take younger women and teenage girls longer to come to this self-actualization.
The adult form of mean girls are sometimes known as Queen Bees. Call it what it is, a form of bullying. An article in Yes to Love (reprinted from Women’s Weekly), not only identifies the types of Mean Girls, but also talks about how as adult women we can deal with this form of aggressive or even passive-aggressive behavior (see full article at http://bit.ly/2jFFW5T). Among the ways we deal with Queen Bees (grown up Mean Girls) is to avoid “gossiping” with these women or anyone really (especially if it is in the workplace). Paying special attention to keeping our distance from any form of negativity against others is key when it comes to ensuring that we uplift others rather than tearing them down. You’ve seen the memes or inspirational quotes that tell us that the negative things we say about others doesn’t say anything about them, but rather about us who make these comments. Why lower ourselves to that level?
Secondly, the article suggests we change our expectations. We need to think about what is at the core of our response to their form of bullying. If our expectation is approval and praise, we need to rethink that. If nothing else, we need to have expectations of ourselves and not others. Remembering that no one is perfect and being alright with that reality should help us in looking at our response to the offenders.
Lastly, finding our own unique and appropriate way of dealing with the stress, or cope with the situation, helps us to counter the desired affect those who offend us may have wished for. You’ve heard the term “kill it with kindness” or “turn the other cheek.” Those may OR may not work depending on the situation, but certainly finding what works for us and brings a sense of personal balance to our hearts, minds, and bodies is all worth the extra personal effort on our part. Holding a grudge or onto anger toward someone is like holding onto hot coals with the hopes that it will hurt the other person. In reality, it only hurts us in the end, and ultimately, the end result of the offender has been achieved much to our own dismay.
In my book series, The Last Prophet, the theme of forgiveness, mercy, compassion, and love are common in each novel. This isn’t just because the series is written from a spiritual perspective, but because they are life lessons across philosophies, religions, or beliefs. These qualities of forgiveness, mercy, compassion, and love are traits and practices that are meant to leave a person with greater peace, joy, and create harmony among all creatures great and small. Regardless of language, location, or creed, each of these can be shared commonly among and between people.
What did I learn from my run-in with the modern day mean girls/queen bees? I learned that I am the better person. I am still lovable and capable of rising to the occasion. I am strong, beautiful, and (possibly) envied by those who have no idea who I am (or at least by those mean girls). I am accepting and loving of myself and my life choices. I am the woman I am today and I am happy with myself and the life I live.
What lessons do you need to learn from negative encounters with mean girls/queen bees? How will you rise to the occasion and demonstrate self-love? Comment in the space provided.
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