Remember the mean girls from High School?
Remember thinking that you would move on, grow up, and not have to deal with clicks or drama anymore?
News Flash: Mean girls exist at EVERY age.
I was once in a situation where I was thrown into a group of individuals who I was to travel along side. These people really didn’t know me, yet quickly decided that I was too peppy, too easily entertained, too excited, and too loud for their liking. In my short time with them, things I said in jest to friends were overheard and speculated about. Comments I made to people who knew my background were taken out of context. Questions I asked innocently were turned into blond jokes. And in the nature of gossip and assumption, none of it was said to my face.
Enough of that . . . The point is each of us will find ourselves in a situation where someone doesn’t like us and we don’t really know why or what to do about it. Bullies pick on people for being pretty or ugly, quiet or loud. None of us are immune.
And while I chose to move on and enjoy my trip anyway. . . I believe that there are some important lessons to be learned from this experience.
Here are some tips on what to do when haters hate:
Don’t take it personally.
Usually, what other people do isn’t because of you. It’s because of them. For example, happy people irritate people who are not feeling satisfied. Confident people tend to annoy those who have not discovered who they are or why they are fabulous. I really do not know what was happening on this trip in particular, but it seems that most often, when people are rude, it has nothing to do with you. It stems from what is lacking in them. Like happiness, confidence, or empathy.
When someone makes you an enemy and you have done nothing to merit it, most likely something about you struck a nerve with something in them. And it’s probably something you could not have foreseen and probably do not need change.
Be true to yourself.
Each of us is better at being our true selves than a fake, less interesting, version of anyone else.
Did I decide to be less lively? Less adventurous? Less thrilled to see the world? Absolutely not.
I refused to be less of who I am in an effort to fit in. That being said. . .
Use it to your advantage.
Oprah says that a lesson can be learned from everything that happens to us.
If you haven’t realized: I like me. I love who I am and I love my vibrant personality, but I understand it can be a lot to take in.
I am really loud, very excited, and quite easily entertained. I accidently come off entitled. I think I deserve the best. I worked hard to go on this trip and felt entitled to an enriched, fabulous experience, to confidently wander around foreign countries with fascination, to be wildly excited about everything that felt wildly exciting.
Life-lesson: It can be beneficial to be a little more subtle until people get to know those of us with vibrant personalities. In professional situations especially, this may be very helpful.
In this situation, I was busy learning and having a great time. It didn’t occur to me to impress people with unpleasant expressions stuck on their faces and bad attitudes, but in actuality, I didn’t hate them. I liked them until they started being rude to me, and I realize that someday I cound even find myself in class with or working with these people someday.
Life-lesson: All people matter. Don’t burn bridges.
To confront or not to confront?
Now confronting is always an option.
If this situation is a short term scenario or simply not worth it to you may want to just let it go.
However, if you decide to talk to your mean girl:
1. Be inquisitive
2. Be firm
3. Do it one on one
An inquiry is much less accusatory then a declaration of one’s bitchiness.
Talk to them in a way that shows you are trying to understand what is going on – the goal is not to put them on the defensive. People can be around, but should not be within earshot.
Something along the lines of, “I don’t really understand why you are saying things about me, but it’s rude and it really hurts.”
The question will linger after you are gone.
You want them to realize that there is a person with feelings on the other end of their drama.
Give yourself some credit.
Dear God – if you have to handle mean girls, pat yourself on the back!
It’s no fun!
Don’t lash out or play games. Defend yourself if needed and go on with the enjoyment of your life.
I was immersed in foriegn world in which growing as a person was highly important to me. I was able to learn so much about a different culture and develop my passions. I even made some true, good-hearted friends. I saw more of our beautiful, magnificent world. I treated people well. I had the time of my life and I didn’t let those who were hateful ruin my time.
Sure – I could have done a few things differently, but I got to show my true colors. I’m happy with what I showed. Mean girls don’t get to say that.
You can’t control anyone else. Make the best of everything. Learn and grow. Embrace life.
For me, this is what making-it looks like.