Growing Up: The End of “Mean Girls”

By Traci Pedersen

“There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.” —Author Mandy Hale

From the time we are very young, we learn that we are little individual people, completely separate from others. There is “me” and there is “you.” In our innocence, we learn to compete.

We quickly learn to admire and respect the “best” in every situation: the fastest runner, the strongest speller, the girl with the biggest backyard pool. Sure, we are taught to share, and are even admonished when we don’t. But as we are being taught the traits of friendliness and generosity and patience, we remain keenly aware that the glory often goes to the “winner.”

There is nothing inherently wrong with competition. In fact, it is quite natural: when we win something, we experience a huge release of dopamine in our brain. It is fun and exhilarating and gives us something to work toward, especially when we are striving to be the best we can be.

Problems do occur, however, when we begin to see human beings, including ourselves, in an hierarchy, or pecking order. Rather than seeing ourselves as unique individuals with an inherent sense of worth and purpose, we compete for importance. We find ourselves on an invisible ladder of success.

Based on how often we “win” at life, we place ourselves somewhere on this ladder—above some people and below others. If we move up a rung, then someone else must move down. We watch and guard our positions (subconsciously), but much like a low-grade fever, we live in constant low-grade fear.

As deeply emotional and social beings, women are especially vulnerable to the fear of not measuring up, or being left out. In high school, and even beyond, this fear may lead to cliques that resemble more of a gang than a group of friends. We are all familiar with “mean girls,” and the tide of damaged young women left in their wake. There are even books and movies made of this widespread phenomenon.

So how does this happen? What makes a “mean” girl? Surprisingly, mean behavior stems from fear and insecurity. Left unchecked, fear and insecurity can lead to terrible low-energy behaviors, including envy, bitterness, gossip, cruelty and exclusion.

Women who are secure and full of self-love, however, never feel the need to put down another. Where there is love, there is no motive for cruelty.

Imagine that there is no ladder (because there isn’t)—only a field. And this field is full of flowers of all kinds: tulips and wildflowers and orchids and roses. Each flower represents a woman, beautiful in her own way and radiant with divine feminine energy.

There are no comparisons here. After all, how does one compare a tulip to an orchid? A rose to a wildflower? Who would say that a water lily is more important or vibrant than a sunflower? It would be laughable to think of flowers tearing other flowers apart in the competition to be the best.

As we discover and live out our own unique purpose in life, we become free to admire and encourage the strengths in others, instead of fearing them. We find that the beauty of each human being is designed to complement—not compete with—our own. As fear dissipates, love abounds, and the era of “mean girls” is a thing of the past.

 

Spirituality & Health magazine is for people who wish to explore the spiritual journey—the journey to self-knowledge, authenticity, and integration. We draw from the wisdom of many traditions and cultures, with an emphasis on sharing spiritual practices. We explore the health of body, mind, and spirit, and we recognize that in our language the words "whole," "health," and "holy" share a common root. To subscribe to Spirituality & Health, click here.

 

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