I am so afraid of the tween and teen years for my two little girls. My fear is amplified because I was both a mean girl and the target of a bully. I became a mean girl to a dear friend because I wanted so desperately to fit in.
My middle school self was so insecure. I was involved in theatre which made me different from everyone in my class. I was known as one of the “smart kids”. I was ashamed because I was not popular. I was a nerd and a theatre geek. I loved to read. I was not that into boys like a lot of my other friends were. I was not interested in experimenting with cosmetics.
I remember the elation of making a prank phone call with a friend. We sang a horrible song to this other friend. After we hung up, I felt that adrenaline rush. Then I felt the white-hot sensation of shame. My cheeks flushed, and my breathing quickened. My parents discovered this cruel prank of mine which further intensified and magnified my shame. My class of girls spent many hours in the principal’s office. When the principal is your first cousin once removed, the shame is a hundredfold greater. I remember L looking at me and the group of girls asking us “Girls, why can’t you just get along with each other?”
I was so quick to let go of a friendship so I could be seen as cool. This strategy did not work. I continued to hustle throughout middle school to be cool. I did come to my senses in high school, and I found my tribe of amazing friends. I did not attempt to play the popularity game. I tried to be kind to everyone. I stayed away from the cliques as much as I could. I embraced my uniqueness. I am hoping that I can pass along these lessons to my girls. Because being a mean girl involves dread. I always felt like the other shoe was going to drop. One day I would be out of favor with the cool crowd. I want my girls to be true to themselves. Moms of tweens and teen daughters, do you have any advice on this?