Perhaps, you were supposedly “in” their crowd or merely did your best to keep your distance from them. Either way, you no doubt knew who “the mean girls” were in high school. The mean girls often congregate in the same social circles or more specifically, cliques. They might smile to your face in front of teachers or parents. When no adults are around, it’s game on. The mean girls are often popular. They might even be smart. Here’s the thing: Mean high school girls often turn into mean women who are adept at adult bullying tactics.
If you still live in the town you grew up in, you might run into the mean girls-now-women on a regular basis. They might try to friend you on Facebook or follow you on Instagram, Snapchat or other social media sites. Why? Is it really to reconnect? Bullies from your past might act as though the experiences you shared in high school weren’t so bad. Don’t fall for it. Just as they so skillfully hid their agenda when you were teenagers, they will likely do so now. Their real reason for reconnecting is often to continue bullying you.
Adult bullying often has childhood causes
We could sit here all day and discuss reasons why bullies bully. With mean high school girls who turn into mean women, it comes down to two basic issues. Many adult bullies were once victims of bullying themselves. There are also women who simply love the idea that they have social or sexual power. In short, they enjoy intimidating, manipulating, exploiting, scaring or hurting others.
Signs of adult bullying
You log onto Facebook and there it is: a friend request. You open it and immediately get a pit in your stomach. It’s her — one of the mean girls from high school. Part of you hopes she has changed. That part of you also wants to forgive and forget. You might feel compelled to accept the request. Maybe you’ve run into a mean girl in the workplace or in the parking lot while waiting for your kids at school. How can you recognize whether the mean girl matured into a kind woman or is “still at it?”
She might start commenting on your FB timeline. If her manner is degrading, argumentative or offensive, it’s a definite sign that she hasn’t changed. A mean-girl-turned-mean-woman may engage in adult bullying by spreading rumors about you. The barrage might take place online or in your own community. Mean girls who grow up to be mean women also love to cause problems in people’s marriages.
Other adult bullying tactics that should raise concerns
If you work with a mean girl who hasn’t changed, she might try to turn the boss against you. She’ll make you look bad in front of coworkers. She’ll try to make you feel bad about yourself.
Protect yourself from adult bullying
I put a screeching halt to the mean girls’ bullying against me in high school. I waited for them at the top of a hill one day. (They used to follow me home from school and taunt me the entire way.) I turned around, stopped in my tracks and faced them. I invited them to say or do whatever they came to say or do but to do it to my face, not behind my back. I reminded several of them that my family had welcomed them into hour home. I also reminded some of them that when the others weren’t around, they were friendly toward me.
To say it stole their thunder is a grand understatement. The mean girls never bothered me again. That is, until one of them connected with me on Facebook. It didn’t take long for her to launch a bullying campaign against me. This time the central focus was my faith and my political opinions. Her comments were some of the most vile, vulgar statements I’ve ever read online. I blocked her.
Protect others, too
In high school, I witnessed another girl being a daily victim of the mean girls. For more than 25 years, I asked God to grant me an opportunity to meet her again in life so that I could apologize for not sticking up for her. He did. I did. She immediately forgave me and gave me background information as to issues from her home life that made her an easy target for the mean girls. Her mother had mental problems and would not allow her or her sister to bathe more than once a week. This caused her greasy hair, which was a favorite daily topic of the mean girls.
You’re reading this, so you’re likely a full-grown woman by now. Be confident to stand against adult bullying and teach your kids to stand up to the mean girls in school. The suicide rate might decrease if more people would unabashedly speak out against bullying. In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be any mean girls. In reality, the mean girls often become mean women. You can pray for them. You can forgive them but you don’t have to allow them to victimize you anymore.