“How many of you have ever felt personally victimized by Regina George?”
Girls are ruthless. And if you think this is just going to be another post from someone who claims to have been bullied in school… you’re partially right. I have been on both ends of the spectrum. I have excluded people because it made me feel powerful, and I have been excluded, and made fun of, because it made others feel powerful. You know, I find this phenomenon to be so interesting. While watching one of my guilty pleasure tv shows Catfish, I noticed this common theme. Almost all of the guilty parties lead with a sob story about how they were bullied in the past, and this drove them to victimize others. Now, I am no genius. I am fairly smart and pretty good at school, but I don’t claim to be Einstein. Even still, this doesn’t make sense to me. If we know the pain of being exiled or targeted, then why in the world would we want to inflict that same hurt on others?
Let me back track just a bit, as I have been reliving my childhood over the past weeks in attempt to find answers on this topic. In elementary school, I have vivid memories of accusations against me that I know to this day were absolutely fabricated. This was my first taste of mean girls, and I was devastated. I was pushed out of friends groups, forced to go to sessions with the school guidance counselor, and labeled a “bully” for the duration of my time at that school. All because of one person, who liked the feeling of power. Fast forward to middle school, and I thought I had found a group of friends that really understood me. Unbeknownst to me, these “friends” had actually filmed a video- the plot? Jokes about me. An entire movie making fun of me. They continued this bullying, masked as friendship, for years. I struggled in high school too. By then, I kept my distance. I stayed comfortably on the outskirts of most friend circles. Even still, I remember one day when I actually made myself throw up in order to leave school. It was over a boy, and I had girls yelling about beating me up in the hallways. Word traveled fast, and I was on the outs once again. Junior year, I was the only junior cheerleader not to be invited to spring break. They all went together, stayed in the same house, and I was not extended the invite. There were many more instances that aren’t worth repeating, but to give you an idea of where I was by the time senior year rolled around: I was not asked to senior prom. I didn’t go.
College was much of the same shit show. Girls in college are boy crazy and comfortably numb (drunk)…and I was no exception. I knew better than to get too close to ANYONE, and I became a chameleon. Exceptional at molding myself to fit the crowd I was around. I had no idea who I was, and I had fooled even myself. I knew in my heart that girls did not like the real me, so the only alternative in my mind was to become someone else. I couldn’t be alone, right? Turns out the phony me was even less appealing, and I went an almost 6 month stretch with only one friend who would still talk to me. This made for a very awkward living situation.
Now, before I have you sitting here feeling sorry for me, let me also tell you a very different story. In middle school, I was the creator of a notebook that only my “besties” could write in. It wasn’t a Burn Book by any means, but it was an exclusive book that only the “popular” girls could read. That made me feel good, to be honest. It made me feel powerful and accepted. In high school, I was the typical tv-portrayed cheerleader by most accounts. Thrived on being included with the upperclass girls, and eager to exclude anyone else who threatened that position. I was selfish, and absolutely only worried about my own interests. And as I told you above, I was a flaky chameleon throughout college. Y’all, I was just as guilty as I was victimized. I would LOVE to tell you that I vowed to treat others better than the way I was treated… but that would be very far from the truth. This was my reality.
That was a bit of a tangent, but a relevant inclusion. I set out to write about mean girls and how much I can’t stand them… only to realize that I myself was one. In fact, I would brave to say that many, many women (if not all) have been guilty of bullying tendencies at one time or another. And if you aren’t willing to admit to that, then at least you have been known for exclusivity before. You don’t have to admit it to me, but you can’t lie to your own heart. So, we’re all carrying around hurt AND guilt. Perfect. But Caroline, the real question you were aiming to answer is WHY we behave this way (is what I say to myself). That’s true… so why?
We are all made in God’s image. To get to the heart of the issue at hand, we need to understand this. Males and females are very different, but both made with characteristics of God. It’s obvious to me that men generally demonstrate the strength and handwork side of things. Less emotion, and more “black and white.” Women, on the other hand, are known for nurturing and feelings. We tend to live in the gray area, often times getting detoured by emotion, rather than simple fact. NOT a bad thing. In fact, we were made this way on purpose. Our Savior saw a need for a nurturing, loving, caring soul to walk alongside the man. We were an intentional creation!
**NOTE: I AM NOT A SEXIST. I mean, girl power. Man power. Power to the people? This is just a general statement about the way society has looked at men and women historically. If you disagree, that is OKAY with me.**
But the enemy saw this emotional characteristic too… and he plays on it. We all have a burning desire to be loved. Am I good enough? Am I accepted? We were made to find this acceptance in God Himself, but we seem to have gotten lost in the weeds. God’s unconditional and relentless love for us is not always tangible here on Earth (it is, but is found through hope and faith… which are harder to implement). Physical touch and words of affirmation from human beings are abundantly present and easily attainable. So we settle for the cheap stuff. We settle for 100k followers on Instagram, exclusive invites to VIP parties, and compliments from perfect strangers. You see, with this mindset we are all striving towards the same fruitless goal: to be THE best. The MOST accepted. The MOST loved. Do you see the difference? If the enemy can persuade you to chase this goal, then he can pin you against every other woman out there. If he can have us all striving for this ideal, fantasy life rather than the unique one intended for us… then other women are competition instead of teammates.
This is the only answer I can come up with. I have said it many times before and I will continue to say it: The Lord intends all things for the good of those who love him. The enemy intends to destroy (and stifle) all things that bring joy and/or could advance the kingdom of God. You have inevitably been burned by mean girls before, and some part of you wants to prove that you are worthy, and accepted, and valued. Trust me, I get it. But hear me: WE ARE ON THE SAME TEAM. Another woman getting a promotion does not mean she got what was intended for you. It means she is living her story, completely unrelated to yours. Her success does not mean your failure. The inclusion of someone else in a friend group does not make you less valuable. You cannot compare apples and oranges…they simply aren’t the same!
Let us be women that cheer each other on. Let us be so secure in our identity in Christ that we do not waver when the enemy begins to whisper. Let us constantly humble ourselves, submitting to the truth that our story is our own, and it is (and will be) full of hope and joy and fulfillment. And for the love of everything, STOP extinguishing others’ lights. It does not make yours shine brighter… just makes the world all the dimmer. It’s not a hard concept, just one that has been swept under the rug for far too long.