When I was in 7th grade, I was the victim of mean girls. Of course, it was all over a boy. What else do 12-year-old girls have to mean about? Actually don’t answer that, the possibilities are too endless.
Long story short I was with my group of girlfriends at the annual summer Strawberry festival. It was seemingly a typical day filled with strawberry filled food, vendor trucks, and crowds (large crowds).
Yet, what appeared to be out of the blue, the girls started running. One by one, I watched my friends begin to run away. At first, I thought we were running from something or someone. I thought maybe this was a game.
So I began to run too, following them. But the girls kept running and it dawned on me that the game was running from me. I was immediately crushed. I was unsure of what I had done for these “friends” to turn on me like this.
Unequipped to know how to process what was happening to me, I walked home alone. I spent the rest of that summer girlfriend-less. I felt betrayed not only from these girls but from the whole female species.
Luckily, I realized this was not a female issue. This was an issue of these specific people being cruel. These girls decided to be mean to handle a situation. For years, I just decided to avoid girls I felt were of that type.
Here is the kicker though, sometimes things in life, like mean girls, cannot be avoided. So despite my realizations and learnings, I again became the victim of mean girls. This time we were all almost 30.
Thankfully, this experience did not include literal running. But in a lot of ways, these mean girls were running from communication and feelings too. Just in a different way, the 12-year-old mean girls were.
All this to say, this second run-in with mean girls, taught me more about cruel people than just mean girls. It gave me perspective on regardless of age or even gender, there are lessons to be learned from people who chose to do cruel things.
When people are mean to you, it says more about them than it does about you.
This holds regardless of what they are cruel about. Kindness is always a choice. So if it is not being chosen, it is because something inside of that individual is being triggered.
This could be jealousy, unresolved trauma, or even just poor communication skills. Not that this is your job to uncover. It is solely your job to know that cruelness is a projection — not a mirror.
No matter what your age, your feelings are capable of getting hurt.
When people are cruel to you, it is only natural to feel hurt, angry, or unsettled. No matter if you are 6, or 12, or 55. This feeling may never go away, and we need to normalize it.
Even when you know that this is not about you, and it is about them, it is hard to brush off. This is because whether we like it or not we want to fit in. So let yourself feel it. Sit in it for a moment, but know it will pass.
It is not what people do, it is how they make you feel.
The mean girls at age 12, were trying to get away from me because they were mad at me. They likely had little thought about how it would make me feel. If asked, they would probably apologize for their actions, but that apology wouldn’t change how it made me feel.
Likewise, the mean girls at age 30, when discovering how they made me feel, expressed they never intended to make me feel that way. Yet, knowing this fact, I still felt hurt. It is not about our intentions, it is truly about our actions.
There will always be people who chose to be cruel over kind. Whether we interpret this on the playground, in toxic relationships, or just from internet trolls — it is inevitable.
The key is to know that people are cruel because they have something going on within themselves. It is always about something going on with the person acting this way and not actually about what they are mean about.
They likely do not have the tools to realize this, so the meanness that comes out is projected onto you. Roll with it. Feel all the feelings it brings. Just remember the old saying because as elementary as it may sound, it’s true:
I’m rubber, your glue. Whatever you say bounces off of me, and sticks to you.
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want a deeper connection with our community, please join us as a Premium Member today.
Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS. Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.