Brooke Dilling | @brookefrances
Oct. 3rd. Yes, it’s come and gone. Yes, I’m late to the party. Sincerest of apologies . . . but I truly believe this post is better late than not at all.
If you are of my generation, you may be aware that Oct. 3rd is “Mean Girls Day.” If you are not of my generation, or spent the early- to mid-2000s avoiding pop culture, allow me to explain. Mean Girls Day comes from the movie Mean Girls, starring Lindsay Lohan. It’s the day Aaron (played by Jonathan Bennett) first talks to Cady (Lohan) at school. Aaron asks Cady what day it is and she replies, October 3rd.
The movie Mean Girls hit theaters in spring of 2004. It is a comedy about the mean girls many of us experienced in high school. It was written by Tina Fey and is based off the non-fiction book Queen Bees and Wannabes, a fantastic read for anyone raising girls.
Mean Girls Day got me thinking about the mean girls I’ve experienced in my life and what they’ve taught me.
Who here has been personally victimized by Regina George, or another mean girl? Well, me, for one. I went to a small school in a rural town. The high school, grades 9-12, had about 250 kids total. I played high school sports . . awkwardly. I was on the yearbook committee, in drama, involved in all the art classes and one of the top students in my class. I had braces, a home perm, and glasses. I didn’t drink and I didn’t smoke. I think it’s safe to say I wasn’t part of the “in” crowd. But I tried so hard to fit in.
During one particular basketball practice, several mean girls decided to rifle through my gym bag. Inside they found a bag of maxi and mini pads. They taped every last one of them to the outside of my bag. I was mortified when I walked back into the locker room after practice. I laughed it off and continued to play basketball. But this was a defining moment in my young life. I didn’t belong. I wasn’t welcome. I didn’t feel like a member of the team. College couldn’t come soon enough.
I wish I could say high school was the last time I experienced mean girls. But it wasn’t. It turns out mean girls are everywhere: in the workplace, in our neighborhoods, and sometimes in our own heads. It turns out I‘ve learned quite a bit from the mean girls in my life. And so, I am going to do something you probably weren’t expecting, my fellow broads. I am going to take this opportunity to say thank you to the mean girls in my life.
To the mean girls from my youth, thank you. Because of you, I turned my sadness and awkwardness into determination. You told me I didn’t fit in and helped me understand I wanted something bigger than a small town life. You showed me how being excluded felt. It felt lonely and awful. But as a result, I am a good friend to others. I am empathetic, inclusive, kind.
To the mean girl who pursued my husband, thanks. Because of you, I’m stronger than I ever thought possible. You knocked me down for a while, but I’m back -- more awesome and confident than ever before. As a result, I’m a better mom. (I’m not a regular mom, I’m a cool mom.) I’m creating a fantastic life for my boys and me. I am no longer pulling someone along behind me--that one’s all yours now. Without your mean girl intrusion in my life, I may not have found the happiness I now have.
To the mean girl who was my supervisor, thank you. You helped me understand I deserve a work environment free of bullying. You pushed me out of a dead-end position. You were the force I needed to land in the great place I am now: an environment that embraces my enthusiasm and creativity and allows me to be my best self.
And to the mean girl in my head: I’m working really hard to be done with you. You are on notice.
The mean girls who have made me feel small don’t define me. I am a pretty fantastic human. I’m a great mother, friend, neighbor, and colleague. I love myself for who I am right now in this moment. (I am pretty fetch after all). And I will continue to look in the mirror and tell myself how great I am until I actually believe it every day.
Mean Girls the movie is one of my all-time favorites. Mean girls in real life totally suck. I’m a stronger woman because of mean girl experiences, but as women, we can be better to one another and to ourselves.