When I was in the fourth grade, a group of girls in my class kept getting in fights with one another. Not fun physical fights, but the annoying girl kind where people cry and it gets emotional. The kind of fight where we are taught to use our words to solve it. Well, little did those teachers know what kind of monsters they were creating. Maybe this is where I was conditioned to find all dramatic people horribly annoying and unnecessary in my life. And this is definitely when I realized that words are the most powerful tool (and/or weapon). If you have an understanding of a person, saying the right thing can hurt more than getting punched in the stomach, or for the guys, a little lower down.
I vividly remember my teacher bringing five of us girls out into the hallway and explaining the best way to solve a fight. She said, always start out with a compliment. Then, tell the person what they are doing that bothers you. For example (and what I immediately thought to myself): Ms. Purdue, I think you are a cool teacher but it really fucking pisses me off when you make me miss my recess to sit in this dumb hallway to listen to crying girls.
After that ridiculous hour of talking about our feelings, I was, and rightly so, not in the best mood. It wasn't about the fact that I had to miss my recess. It was that I had to listen to girls complain and whine and cry. So, just as I sat down for lunch, one of the girls in my class came over and tapped my shoulder. She wanted to talk to me for a second. Worst combination of words in the English language. I hate having to "talk". She pulled me to the side of the cafeteria and said, "Hannah I really like your shirt today, but it really bothers me when...". Now she continued on to say something but I most definitely didn't hear it because I was LAUGHING too hard. (I know that makes me sound mean, but this girl was actually a huge bitch. So if I was mean, it was well deserved.)
I'm not insulting Ms. Purdue's method because it really does work. Over the years I perfected that method. By the seventh grade, I was a bitch. I'm not proud of it; I'm just being honest. But, only towards my friends and family (my poor mother). How I still have a loving family and good friends is beyond me. Not exaggerating, I still apologize and thank them to this day for staying my friends.
A few weeks ago, a friend told me we needed to "talk". She told me that because we are such good friends, she feels that she can be honest with me. And she is only telling me these things because she has my best interest in mind. She proceeded to tell me that I should stop trying to be someone that I'm not. (A little background on that comment: I just transferred schools, changed my major and for the first time in forever, I am actually happy.) So I would like to thank that friend for having my best interest in mind and being honest with me. I mean, what are friends for? Right?
After that comment, I started thinking about my younger self. I mean, I invented the "I'm just trying to help you" angle. And looking back, all of the mean things I said came from some sort of jealousy or insecurity. But most of all, it came from pretension: the "I'm better than you, so therefore, I can treat you however I want" attitude. The way in which I had no regard for other people's feelings.
The thing about looking back at our younger selves is that we have such a clearer understanding. We see things in ways we wouldn't have been able to comprehend back then. The funniest part about my "pretentious" attitude is that I in no way thought I was better than anybody. I had no confidence in myself. But the best way to cover up insecurities is to seem unbreakable. For guys, they become macho and strong. For a girls, they become mean, with no emotion. Nobody messes with the bully.
So now my sister is in high school. She is dealing with girls who are way meaner than I ever was. Now don't get me wrong, I still could put anybody in his or her place (it's a talent) but I have no interest. Maybe its the Buddhist in me. But high schools are becoming more vicious than I ever remember them being. As an older sister, I used to tell her that all she had to do was survive high school. That once she gets to college, everybody matures and there isn't as much drama. Turns out I was wrong.
So, my friend did open my eyes to something. People will never stop being mean and manipulative. No matter your age, even when you are way too old for petty high school bullshit, there will be somebody trying to put you down. So rather than telling my sister to wait for it to pass. I now tell her this, all you can do in life is focus on yourself. Figure out what you want to do and go for it. There will absolutely be people who tell you that you can't do it, that you're not good enough. Don't waste your time worrying about what other people say. Be who you want to be, try as hard as you fucking can, and ignore everyone else who tries to stop you.
[I know how corny that all sounds. But I do tell her that stuff. Ask her.]