Congratulations! You escaped the perils of high school including the scourge of “mean girls” and can finally be surrounded by like-minded, academically oriented adults in college. Well, surprise! Those “mean girls” didn’t change much since high school graduation. It can be very discouraging for the kind-hearted, smart, sensitive types that felt tortured by those “mean girls” in high school to find themselves stifled yet again by rude, insensitive, cruel, and snobbish “mean girls”. We obviously can’t hide from them forever or run home to the safety of our parents, so how do we cope with them?

One thing we can do is to take the proverbial high road. People who feel important by stepping on others clearly don’t deserve to see that they’ve hurt you. Don’t give them the satisfaction of seeing you cry nor letting them convince you that you are unlikeable or flawed. Keep your head up and go out there and find your peer group. I promise you that there are others like you who will appreciate you for who you are. I know it’s easier said than done, but if you surround yourself with people that you enjoy, your feelings of self-worth will grow and will serve as armor to protect you from the side glances, comments, and snickers from those “mean girls” that you face.

Secondly, stand firm in the knowledge of who you are. You are not less than any other person so don’t cower away when someone is being ugly to you. To clarify, this doesn’t mean confronting them or getting into a fight (verbal or physical). It does mean, however, make eye contact, keep your voice up, speak your mind, and don’t change who you are. These things show that you are confident in yourself and show that you are too mature to play childish games with these people. You won’t convince the “mean girl” that you are valuable and beautiful- and you’re not doing it for that reason, you’re doing it to remind yourself that you are valuable and beautiful.

Additionally, don’t perpetuate the anger and meanness. It doesn’t serve a positive purpose to disparage their character to others. That makes you guilty of doing the same things that they are doing. Let others in your peer group see such bullies for who they are. The ones that care for you will see it and will naturally distance themselves on their own accord. If you begin talking badly about people and spreading the negativity, the bullies won, they have changed you and taken your joy. Life is too short and too full of possibilities for us to choose anger and negativity as our legacy.

In essence, we can’t avoid the “mean girls” in our lives. They will be in high school, college, and work places. I wish there was a way to fix whatever happened in their lives to make them so cruel and I hope that one day, each of them can find peace and happiness. Until that day comes, we just have to remember that we can’t do anything about how people treat us, we can only do something about how we react to what others do.