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I used to be a mean girl. I wasn’t the type of Regina George “mean girl” that comes to mind when you hear that word. I was the type of person who would smile to your face and rip on you the second you left. I would pass the time with my friends by talking bad about other people. Why am I telling you this? I want to chat with you about the way the world is for a second because I understand it a lot more than I thought.

Some backstory

Today, as I was leaving the gym, I held the door open for a man. Instead of a “thanks” or even a smile, he said “Just move! It makes it so much easier!” I was taken aback for a brief moment, and even though I wanted to fire back at him and call him a jerk, I simply said “I hope your day gets better”.

Why? Because I know that something happened in his life, or maybe in his morning, that made him angry, and he took it out on me. He lashed out at me not because of what I was doing necessarily, but because of some pent up emotions within him. It got me thinking… I could relate to this man. I wasn’t upset with him, I sympathized with him. Because in a sense, I used to be that person.

The cold hard truth

While I wasn’t the outwardly mean person that this man was, I was the behind-your-back mean. How different would it have been if he would have smiled to my face and then turned around to his friend and said “wow that idiot, she could have just moved out of the way”. While I wouldn’t have been affected, his negativity and rudeness would have still been put into the universe. In my mind, it’s the same.

I’m not afraid to take a cold hard look at my past and say I used to be a mean person. And because I used to be a mean person, I know how they operate.

It’s not about you

It’s about them. When I was my most miserable, I was my meanest self. I would look at a girl who was fitter and prettier than me, and automatically turn to a friend and say something like: “wow that person is so stuck up”, even if I didn’t know a single thing about her. Why? Because if I tore her down, I would feel better about not being as pretty as her. Now, she’s stuck up. She may be pretty and fit, but she’s stuck up, so who cares about how hot she is. That was the mentality I had.

When I felt insecure, or self-conscious, I would automatically be mean to people so they would feel like I did. BUT, here’s the kicker… I didn’t understand I was doing it. I didn’t understand that me being mean to others was a reflection of how I felt about myself. I didn’t understand that my inward thoughts about myself translated to me tearing other people down to make myself feel better. I was blind to it.

What woke me up

So what woke me up to these facts? I became the “victim” of the same exact mean girl I was. I had surrounded myself with “friends” who were the exact same as me, and suddenly, after a personal life transition, these “friends” decided they didn’t want to be my friends anymore. I would hear them talk about me behind my back. They stopped inviting me to things. They would outwardly be rude to me to tear me down and make me feel small. And while that was the darkest time of my life, it was also the most eye opening.

As I sat there eating lunch with no friends, I realized just how crappy of a person I was. I went into a dark and sad time, but I decided in those lonely moments that I was going to redefine myself.

I picked up and moved, leaving behind the person I once was

All of this was during high school. When I was applying for colleges, I decided I was going to go somewhere that no one knew me. I even decided I needed to go to a completely new state to do it. So, I did. I picked up my life in California, and planted my new roots in Idaho. Everyone always asks me “so, why Idaho?”, and while I would love to tell this entire story to them, I just say “for a change of pace”.

So what now?

During college, I found myself slipping back into the old me. I had a few friends who brought out the worst in me, and some that brought out the best. It took me a bit longer to finally decide to surround myself with people who make me the best version of myself. Now, I don’t tear other women down. When I see someone killing it, or living in their truth, I don’t come up with reasons why they are less than me. While we are all human, and we all have our bad days, if you can consciously make the decision to be kind in moments when the world isn’t being kind to you, you are a good person.

This transition away from being a mean girl wasn’t overnight. Even on my bad days, I sometimes find myself slipping back into my old self. But I don’t stay there long. I acknowledge the fact that my insecurities are making me feel angry, and it’s rarely about other people. You can’t control what people do, but you can control how you handle each and every situation.

“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

-Jennifer Dukes Lee

I believe in the idea that kindness can change the world. If you encounter someone being mean to you, or to other people, understand that it’s rarely about the situation at hand and more often about the individual themselves. If you are the mean person in the situation, believe me when I say, it’s so much easier to be kind. Handle your sh*t. Do some DEEP reflection. Work towards making that change TODAY. There’s already enough hate in the world, don’t add to it.

There are still some relationships that I am working to mend even to this day. If this is something that you can relate to, put your ego aside and own up to it. Holding onto your pride is not worth losing people you love.

Forgive yourself

If you are like me, or were once like me, forgive yourself. Own up to your mistakes, and forgive the person you were. When I look back on the person I used to be, I don’t beat myself up about it. I look at her like she was a different person, a person that shaped me into the person I am today. It’s SO much easier said than done, I know that, but allowing yourself to forgive the things you’ve done or the person you once were is the only way to become the person you want to be.

Kindness can change the world. It’s definitely changed mine.

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