I was pretty nice growing up. Definitely a bit weird, but a sweet kid with overall sweet friends until suddenly, middle school struck like an epidemic. An epidemic that turns 11-year-old girls who all like one another into 12-year-old girls who could probably make Vladimir Putin feel fat and lonely and ashamed of bringing his lunch instead of buying it. We were all friends for years and then one day, we weren’t. Or, rather, my friends were still friends… just not with me. I was ex-communicated. In middle school girl traditions, this basically means I sat at the end of the lunch table until I just gave up and made new friends, vowing to never be treated that way again.
Of course, this was over a decade ago and I rarely think about it, but in the past few years, I’ve tried to figure out why I act the way that I do and how it pertains to my past. Being that I don’t remember a lot of my past, this gets a little tricky, but I definitely remember those long, painful nights of feeling like the most loser-y loser that had ever existed in any real or imagined realm (I also played a lot of Diablo II, which didn’t exactly help with my preteen cool factor).
For about seven years, I was a mean girl. Not in the sense that I picked on people who couldn’t defend themselves; on the contrary, I only was cruel to people whom I was jealous of or felt otherwise threatened by. So, you know how commenters always say “YOU’RE JUST JEALOUS!!!1!” whenever bloggers criticize anybody ever? That was true of me, but IRL. Sometimes it was just because I was bored with my own life, which is even sadder. Aaron Samuels would totally judge me.
My high school best friend and I would be downright mean about everyone we knew behind their backs. Literally, everyone. There was nobody off limits. Everybody was a target and that was just fine, because for some reason, people hadn’t always been particularly nice to us so it made sense. But even when people weren’t necessarily mean to me, I would find myself being angry at them for some reason and I could never figure out why.
In high school, that pervasive seventh grade attitude still lingers, but when you hit 18… it’s just downright sad. But did I chill out come college? Hell no!
I am embarrassed to say that I was a pretty big asshole throughout my first two years at college. I had primarily male friends, which resulted from (A) my being an asshole (B) mostly being friends with my ex’s friends and (C) working on sets that mostly had guys on them. I had a female friends, but they were few and far between. There were some girls whom I thought were really, really interesting, gorgeous and smart, but because I was so grossly insecure about my own appearance in addition to thinking that being dominating was the only way to gain respect, I was flat out unpleasant. At best, I would act cold. At worst, I likely resembled Reagan from The Exorcist. Especially while drunk.
Finally, right before I turned 21, I realized that it was a very lonely way to behave. Sure, I had friends and was by no means physically alone, but being a mean person was just a terrible way to exist. I wanted to befriend these women, not simply tolerate one another. I just didn’t know how to get to know them if the only way they saw me was how I presented myself: as a bitter jerk.
So I apologized.
One by one, I said I was sorry and told them that I should never have acted that way. I told them the truth: I was threatened and felt anxious about my own place. Sometimes, when you’re female, especially in a male-dominated group, it feels like you might lose your spot if you don’t guard it. It’s a terrible instinct to have and I had to work quite a bit to overrule it in my brain.
But instead of throwing it in my face, the girls all embraced me. Just a month later, they surrounded me with vodka, flowers and avocado (i.e. happiness) when my grandfather died and my boyfriend broke up with me on the same day. We still joke about it today, the fact that we didn’t like each other, but they’re my best friends now and it makes me sad that I wasted a year being aware of yet refusing to get to know them.
I’m not perfect by any means; sometimes I still get petty, but it’s not intentional and I make sure to catch myself when I do it. I still lash out aggressively when I feel threatened, but I’ve been working on that for a while and no matter how jealous or insecure or upset I am, I don’t ever want to turn back into a blue-haired Regina George.
[Pics courtesy of Paramount and Warner Bros.]