The first time you made me feel inferior was in 6th grade. You were the bouncy blonde who knew how to smile the smile well beyond your years. I was the girl with ill-fitting clothes, mousy brown hair, and a smile that said “child.” You walked the walk of the popular crowd while I sat in the corner with my book, sporting my butterfly clips.
We could’ve been friends, despite our differences. At the very least, we could’ve just co-existed peacefully. You, however, had other plans.
From my hair to my clothes to the freckles on my face, you made fun of every inch of me. You mocked me until I felt like maybe I was flawed. You got others on your bandwagon and worked hard to belittle me every chance you could. You pushed and shoved with your words, and insecurity crept in.
Through the years, there were many versions of you. Your name, background, hair color, and voice were different. Sometimes we had one harsh encounter, and sometimes you stuck around for a while to make me feel small. Over the years, there were so many of you. I still know each of your names and remember the hurt you caused.
To me, you were always a version of the girl from 6th grade. You made me feel weak. I learned that the message of being kind wasn’t always the way of the world. I learned that mean girls really did exist, and that sometimes the words of the mean girls really did sting.
As I got older, I told myself I was tougher. I didn’t need to worry about what others thought. I didn’t need to be meek and walked all over. I started to grow confidence, and I started to talk back. I was never innocent, I realize now. I said and did some things I shouldn’t have. Even the bookworms put on Regina George’s heels from time to time, and that’s something I’m not proud of.
Behind the brave face, though, was a hidden truth: Insecurity. Those pesky worries were always sitting really close to the confident smirk on my face at your harsh words. What if they were right? What if I wasn’t that special? What if I really was ugly, dumb, weird, and boring? What if I, like they made me believe, was a nobody?
Mean Girls in AdulthoodIn high school, you think the scenes from Mean Girls are left behind when you graduate. The comments and antics of teenagers surely can’t cross the imaginary line into the adult world.
However, I’ve come to realize that mean girls always exist at every stage of life. No matter how much you grow up, judgement and harsh comments still surround you. There will always be those willing to stomp on you with their stilettos to make themselves feel superior. That’s just the way life is.
Working as a high school English teacher, I’m even more privy to the fact that cruelty and competition are cyclical in nature; they truly don’t just go away, and there really is no way to just let it all go.
Harsh words really do haunt you, no matter how brave you try to be.
Nonetheless, I’ve come to realize two very important lessons the 6th grade version of myself didn’t quite know.
1. No one is perfect or perfectly innocent.
We all have our Regina George moments. We might go about it differently, but we’ve all judged another woman or been unnecessarily unkind. Thus, we must use our experiences, especially if we’ve been on the receiving end of cruel judgement, to inspire us to be kinder. We must strive to be more empathetic than our adversaries so we can stop the cycle. We must seek to build up others, even if they are seeking to tear us down. We must strive to combat the inner mean girl that tempts us to judge others, to be cruel, and to make others feel inferior.
2. Inferiority is a personal choice.
In high school, it’s almost impossible to understand this. Even now, at 29, it’s not an easy concept to ascribe to. However, the older I get, the more I realize the truth in this statement.
Mean girls are only effective if we let them be. Sure, the words will always haunt us. Cruel comments are indelible and don’t really dull with time. Still, it is our decision to believe them or to let them rest as untrue. We may not have the power to stop all of the real life mean girls in the world—but we have the power to choose how we handle their words.
Real life mean girls will always exist. From time to time in life, we might even find ourselves as one of the clique. However, the true challenge we as women face is to rise above the tendency to compare and to seek power. We must start to realize that tearing down another woman doesn’t build anyone up. Most of all, we must realize that we alone have the strength to build our own selves up. Words truly do hurt, but inner confidence allows us to find a place where cruel words don’t dictate who we are.
Lindsay Detwiler is a high school English teacher and contemporary romance author. Her latest novel, Who We Were, is a romantic comedy about dealing with high school enemies.
If you know me, you know I'm a needle phobe and super anxious about anything medical. Thus, for the past month and a half, the date "January 20th" on the calendar has been a black dot--the date I was scheduled to get my wisdom teeth out. It seriously was a black dot...I colored it in with a Sharpie.
I couldn't see past that date. In my head was a constant countdown to my personal doomsday. My biggest fear was the IV; I hate needles and really hate the idea of needles in veins. I shed plenty of tears the night before and mentally wrote off the entire month of January.
It's been five days since surgery...and I'm glad to say I survived. It was quite a struggle though. If you're in the same boat and getting ready for Wisdom Teeth Surgery, here are some things I've learned.
1. Laughing Gas doesn't always work
I think my surgeon rushed it because as soon as she put the mask on she started working on the IV. I was completely conscious when this happened...and crying. This was my biggest fear, so I was panicking. The good news is it honestly didn't hurt and I really didn't feel it. Once it was in, I didn't even know it. This was the worst part of the surgery for me. It only takes a few minutes though, so you just have to tough through.
2. You are out cold in minutes.
I remember turning to the surgeon and saying the meds weren't working. The next thing I knew, I was in the recovery room super confused. I don't remember my husband walking into the room. I don't remember a single thing. It is a very weird feeling, but it is like blacking out. Super easy.
3. You'll feel amazing the first few hours.
The meds take a while to wear off, so the first few hours I felt great. These hours are a bit fuzzy. Apparently I was asking a lot of questions. I also managed to escape from the truck when my husband stopped at the pharmacy. I dashed into the store like a ninja with my hood tied around my face (I'm sure that didn't look suspicious). I announced I needed school supplies...then went to the Valentine's Day cards and stared at them. Be prepared to act a fool....
4. The swelling will catch you.
Day 2 I was great. I stayed put on the couch and didn't move because I didn't want to risk it. Day 3...sheer hell set in. The pain meds dulled the pain, but my face felt like it was full of golfballs and it hurt to even eat pudding. I spent days 3 and 4 in sheer agony. I slept like three hours. It was awful.
I honestly feared the IV the most...I should have feared the swelling. No joke, it's pretty intense, depending on your situation. Some people luck into little swelling. I was not one of them.
5. You will miss food.
I spent the days daydreaming about pizza and tacos. Seriously. The liquid diet gets old after about two meals. There was no temptation to cheat, though, because my mouth was so sore, I didn't even want to think about chewing a thing. I first thought maybe weight loss would be a perk to the misery...I'm pretty sure I'm going to gain weight when I binge eat this weekend.
6. It will be hard to focus.
I planned on doing a ton of writing this weekend. I did get a lot done on day 2, but once the swelling set in, I couldn't focus on a thing. The pain meds also make it hard to concentrate and remember things. I watched shows that I can't even remember because I wasn't focused. Don't plan on doing anything super important.
7. Find a good support system.
You will need help with lots of things. I was lucky to have a husband who (for the most part) took good care of me. There was a soup spilling moment and a few other squabbles (we spent 4 days in the house together...what do you expect?). However, I was lucky to have someone to help so I could take it easy and heal faster.
8. Be patient.
I planned on being back to work on Tuesday. By Monday, I knew there was no way this was happening since my mouth was still a swollen, aching mess. Be patient and don't rush things. Everyone heals on their own time. You will get better...it's just a slow process. Focus on making it through each day, each hour if you have to. Eventually, you'll be in the clear and so glad it's all behind you.
Some say you fall in love, while others say you choose it.
I say love found me because I wasn’t searching for it when you came into my life at the innocent age of 12. In fact, I don’t even think I knew what love was. My frizzy hair, T-shirt, and ill-fitting jeans certainly suggested I wasn’t trying to lure love in.
Still, love found me just the same at that art table so many years ago. Your blue eyes and blond hair whispered to me. Something about the way you looked at me roped me in. I can’t say why or how or what even happened that day in August. All I knew was once love found me, it didn’t let me go.
Over the years, we’ve built a life together. We’ve graduated from high school and the typical prom photos to a settled-in life. We shared first kisses and first dates. We endured first fights and doubts. We stepped through many stages of life, always together. We’ve walked through many storms hand in hand, heart glued to heart, and eyes locked on each other.
We said “I do,” and we signed for our not-quite dream home but dream enough for us. We bought a dog and way too many cats. We’ve grown up and grown together.
There’s nothing special about us, not really. Our love story started when we were young, and we’ve managed to prove monogamy is possible. But other than that, we’re just an average couple living an average love story.
Still, you remind me every single day that love stories don’t have to be extraordinary or full of twists and turns to be exciting. You’ve shown me over the years that love stories aren’t about flashy events and grand gestures.
The love I have with you is a soul building love. It’s a solid love. It’s a simple love.
It’s funny because even though I’m a romance writer, our “romance” typically consists of lounging in our house in our comfy clothes watching Netflix. We spent last Valentine’s Day at home on the sofa, surrounded by our mastiff and our cats. We ate pizza and watched a mediocre movie.
There’s no place, no Valentine’s Day, I’d have rather been.
Our romance isn’t about building a novel-worthy tale for others to gawk at. Our romance, our love story isn’t about impressing upon others the obviousness of our love.
Being with you has shown me that love comes in many, simple forms.
Our love story is awkwardly dancing around the kitchen—nothing like in the movies—to an odd song we have in our head. It’s when we both come home from the grocery store with a carton of eggs and a surprise candy for each other because we’re on the same page but can’t manage to text each other. It’s a funny meme you send to my phone on a Monday that just totally fits with what’s happening in my day. It’s the look we give across the room because we know exactly what we’re thinking. It’s the joy we get of doing nothing but sitting around the house together, laughing at our laziness but being totally content.
We have a simple love, an average love, a love few would be excited to read about. But that’s what our love has shown me. The most simplistic, average love story is often the one that resonates with us the most. It’s the one that’s most important.
Each love story is a beautiful, romantic saga in its own right. Thank you for reminding me to celebrate that.
To my husband—thank you for an average, simple love. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Lindsay Detwiler is the published author of six contemporary romance novels. To learn more about her works, visit www.lindsaydetwiler.com.
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Liane Moriarty is one of my absolute favorite female writers. I love how complex her works and how real they are with a touch of wicked humor. She isn't afraid to tell it like it is, and she isn't afraid to have bold female characters who are hilarious.
Thus, when I picked up Truly, Madly, Guilty, I was happy to find a sense of tension and mystery from the beginning. The book is told in both present times and as a flashback to the night of the infamous barbecue. You learn early on that the barbecue was a changing moment in the life of three couples, and they are all haunted by the mysterious events. Moriarty keeps the details of the event a secret right up until the end. I found this to be intriguing at first. I kept wanting to read to figure out what could be so wrong with the barbecue. However, by the middle of the book, I felt like the plot was running a little thin. I felt like nothing that could have happened at the barbecue could warrant such a lengthy book. It felt like it dragged on a bit, and I did not finish this book as quickly as I usually do a Moriarty book.
I did like some of the big messages the book dealt with. I like that it dealt with infertility and hoarding, two diverse but important topics many people deal with in real life. I liked how real the characters were. All of them are flawed in ways that you can relate to. Their dynamic development was superb.
There were a few humorous moments, but nothing that made me laugh out loud like I usually do. I much prefer the humor and style of What Alice Forgot. For me, this lacked Moriarty's signature sense of comedy. I was also a little bit disappointed by the ending. I felt like what was meant to be poignant fell a bit flat.
All in all, this book is a good read because of its character development and its twisting plot. However, I think it is a bit lengthy for the plot line and lacks the typical Moriarty spark/charisma.
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Do you want to get an advanced copy of my next novel, Who We Were?
This chick lit novel follows Maylee Keagan as she endures her ten-year high school reunion. When her brother falls in love with her old rival, Josephine Crawford, drama from high school comes right back into her life. However, there's one thing that lessens the sting of old hatred--Benson Drake. The once nerd turned sexy intellect has come back into Maylee's life thanks to a wardrobe malfunction at the reunion.
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