It’s very rare for someone to tell you to your face how they truly feel about you. It’s rare because it’s not an easy thing to do. Somebody once told me to my face that I’m “mean.” I was rather stunned because usually those kinds of things are reserved for behind-the-back lashing and also, I didn’t agree with her.
Admittedly, some of my behavior towards this person could be considered somewhat questionable, but I’m not sure if it was what you’d call “mean.” I know what “mean” is. I have seen mean. We’ve all seen it. It’s everywhere. It’s in the shows we watch and the movies we see. It’s in the articles we read and the videos we view. The characteristics of a mean girl have been dutifully exposed.
But even when you know you’re being mean, it’s still hard to accept being called out on it. No one wants to be a “mean girl”—unless, of course, they truly are just that. And quite honestly, I don’t feel that I’m truly a mean girl.
So when I was told that I was, it broke me. It broke me for awhile.
But then I got to thinking…Am I a “mean girl,” or was I just being mean?
There’s a difference.
And that led me to conclude that there are two types of mean girls:
There is the Mean Girl on the Offense: This girl is like a lawnmower in that she’ll plow through anyone who gets in her way. She is the Mean Girl who makes herself feel better by tearing down others. She rules by fear and finds the less assured to be her disciples. She is mean; it’s a state of being.
And then there is the Mean Girl on the Defense. This girl is not mean coming out of the gate. She has to be provoked, like a sleeping bear. If you’re going to poke her, good luck to you because she might come out swinging. She’s either standing up for herself or she’s just totally and completely annoyed by someone else’s behavior. Her meanness is reactionary and, as far as she‘s concerned, it is justified. Unlike the Mean Girl on the Offense, this girl’s meanness is not a state of being, it‘s temporary. She’s not a Mean Girl, but she can be mean and if you question her about her conduct, her answer will more than likely be: “Well, she started it.”
Of course, not all girls fit nicely into either category. There are lots of other Mean Girl groups and subgroups, but I’m too lazy and too stupid to get into all of them.
I really just needed to hash out what I had so far because not only am I responsible for myself, but I have two little girls of my own and if they see me being mean, there is a good chance they could grow up to be the same way. And no one wants that.
Of course I don’t want my girls to be Mean Girls—but I also don’t want them to be doormats. I needed some help so I went to my friend “Remi.” Remi helped me to see that it doesn’t have to be either/or. While there is no place for the Offensive Mean Girl (except in the movies) the Defensive Mean Girl is pretty much unavoidable. And not only that, she’s also human.
It’s human to be put off by other people once in a while. We can’t all like each other, but we don’t necessarly have to act on it. It’s not nice to come out both guns blazing to every single person who rubs you the wrong way. Plus, there’s no percentage in it. Where’s it going to get you? Nowhere good.
I wish I had the innate quality and maturity level to let things go and bite my tongue, but I’m not built like that—and that is something I need to work on. When the time comes, I’m really going to try and help my girls find a place in the middle. I want them to be more like Remi. I want them to know when they should stand up for themselves and when they should walk away. I want them to know when to put up and when to shut up. If I have to, I will attach a filter or a muzzle to their mouths.
And who knows? Maybe there’s even one big enough to fit me.