Today, Rebecca and Ashley are going to tag team to help one of our readers.
Elizabeth, please tell us your story, and let’s see if we can help.
Elizabeth: So, I’m in the theater and music department at my high school, and this year for our February show, we had LOTS of different colored feathered boas. One girl in my class and I organized every single boa into boxes by color. It took us over an hour. That night, at dress rehearsal, everyone threw the boas around like nobody’s business. I calmly and kindly reminded everyone to put them in their respective boxes. Then a senior girl turns around and gets in my face yelling, “You stupid freshman! Why don’t you shut the f— up?! No one cares about your opinion! That’s what freshman are for you stupid b—-! We are seniors! We have authority over you! You’re just a f—ing freshman, so shut the f— up!”
At the time, I just stood there and tried not to cry. What should I have done? Thanks.
Rebecca: Oh, Elizabeth! Welcome to the world of high school, where cats purrfect Level 5 on the cattiness scale and those of us on the receiving end are just doing our best to keep from crying all over our cheese. I would be lying if I said I had not endured what I felt to be more than my fair share of super catty girls in high school, junior high school, and even upper elementary school. I guess those top-tier ‘Mean Girls’ start practicing early. But give us a chance here, and we will try to impart a few small nuggets of wisdom.
Ashley: Wow Elizabeth, I’m so sorry that happened to you! What a terrible way to be thanked for all your efforts at organizing! I have definitely been in your shoes, standing there embarrassed and confused after some yahoo unloaded all their crazy on me. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that there is no one-size-fits-all comeback that will combat the level of verbal aggression you describe. It is very likely our Drama Queen has a problem, she was completely disrespectful, and became defensive when you called her out. In a twisted way, she lashed out at you in order to repair any ‘damage’ you may have done to her or her image with your (very polite) reminder to follow the guidelines.
Rebecca: But Ashley – I know how great it would have felt to turn around and give it right back to that senior Drama Queen. I personally could never think of the come backs fast enough on my own to apply that tactic. But something possibly worth pointing out: while she may be the big fish in this small pond situation with a plethora of Freshmen to boss around (or just one = you) – when she goes to college – IF she goes (maybe she’s not that kind of girl) she will turn right around and be back on the bottom. A bottom-feeding, Freshman peon with no authority what so ever. She will most likely be one little fish in an ocean of new faces, and if she doesn’t learn to go with the flow – she may drown. Ashley, I wonder if there are statistics out there for ‘Mean Girl’ college dropouts…
Ashley: Ha! You’re right, Rebecca. I know it would have probably felt good to throat punch this psycho and walk away cool as a cucumber while waving like you just won prom queen; however there is no real way for you to properly school our Drama Queen on the complete inappropriateness of her actions without escalating her level of aggression. I wouldn’t want to see her explore those highest, often unmentioned levels of cattiness. Sometimes, Elizabeth, the best thing to do is just walk away, and yes sometimes that just sucks.
Rebecca: Walking away does suck. And in my experiences, it usually meant walking away and crying. But one thing to hold out for, after you cross that glorious boundary of 20 into 21, you can begin to have a little wine with your cheese. And your experiences dealing with catty girls and women will have taught you restraint and respect and courtesy like nobody’s business. Learn from the negative experiences in your life just as much as the positive. They are often the best teachers. Don’t ever stoop to a level that is beneath you. Keep your head held high, and tell that Drama Queen you didn’t realize she wouldn’t need her boas sorted by color and then thank her for making your organizing duties easier before the next show.
Ashley: Rebecca, sometimes biting your tongue just isn’t enough. Elizabeth, in the future you may need to try and steer clear of this girl and her highly inflated sense of importance as much as you can. I am in no way encouraging you to hide from her or to avoid the activities you enjoy because you are intimidated by her, but I would not go out of my way to engage her either. Just remember: her bad attitude and worse behavior are a reflection on her — NOT you. And please, by all means, resist the urge to let this episode turn you catty. It may feel good in the short term to name call and gossip about this girl behind her back, but it will only end with you looking like a major Level 5, and that behavior is a reflection on you.
Rebecca: Yes! We want you to be able to sleep at night knowing you did the right thing. One day, that will matter more than anything else you can even imagine right now.
Ashley: Elizabeth, Good luck out there! We hope this helps.