Dealing with Mean Girls Surprisingly Helped My Transition to College

Although it seems counterintuitive, one of my worst life experiences was my key to success in transitioning to college. I never would have thought that dealing with mean girls in middle school was going to come back to play an important role. Everyone tells you the same cliches: that college is finally your time to be whoever you want, no one is going to judge you, and that it’s nothing like high school. And as true as these are, those people also seem to forget how daunting it is to meet a whole bunch of new people and try to find the friend group you click with the best in your first few weeks as a freshman.

When I was going through this time in my life, of needing to make new friends, I ironically focused back to a time that I had previously tried erasing from my memory; the days I was bullied in middle school. I found that reminding myself of the lessons I learned from this experience actually helped me find where I fit in on my campus and discover the people I mesh with the best. Who would have thought that one of the darkest times of my life would manifest into a tool for my benefit almost six years later?

Oddly enough, in middle school I didn't realize that I was being bullied; the key factor being that the bully was my best friend. This is truly one of the most miserable forms of bullying because, in my opinion. Someone within your inner circle that you trust hitting you where it hurts is complete betrayal. I spent my entire first year of middle school wanting to be this one girl’s friend. She wasn’t just Little Miss Perfect; this girl was Little Miss Everything. Rocking a new and expensive outfit each week, she was absolutely gorgeous and easily the most popular girl in school with the boys drooling all over her. One momentous morning she even strutted into homeroom in a brand new hunter green Juicy tracksuit and Coach tennis shoes. And of course since appearance was everything to my middle school self, my body flooded with jealousy. After a few weeks of getting paired up together in English class, this girl and I surprisingly started to click. The girl who was too untouchable for anyone actually wanted to be my friend! Along with two other girls who I grew close with, the four of us started having slumber parties every weekend. Before I knew it, we were the “it” girls of the school. I finally felt like I found my strong group of best friends.

It wasn't long, though, before I started reaping the disadvantages of being best friends with this group. At lunch, the four of us would always talk about what we should do that weekend. The plans almost always consisted of going to the movies or bowling and then a sleepover after. I will never forget this one Friday afternoon where I suggested to the group that we go see a new movie that was coming out that very night. We all agreed; my friend said she would text me later with details. I was so excited that night and even got ready early out of eagerness. It was getting late; I was finding it weird that she had never texted me. So naturally, I asked her what our plan was. To my surprise, she quickly replied saying that she couldn't go out that night so plans were off. A little disappointed, I did what any other middle schooler would do on a Friday night: play my Taylor Swift CD and go on Facebook. This was a mistake.

As soon as I opened the browser my screen flooded with photos of my three “best friends” hanging out at the movies. My throat started tightening, my eyes started stinging as tears formed. I was so confused. I thought these were my friends, why didn't they want to hang out with me? That Monday we all walked into school like we always did and I just pretended like I never saw anything. This was the worst part of the whole situation. I never stood up for myself, and therefore it never stopped. For months, we played this same game of my friend canceling plans on me. Eventually, I learned from the other two girls it was just so she could talk about me behind my back and try to convince my friends not to like me. But I still never said anything, because I was too afraid of not having friends and more importantly, not being friends with the most popular girl in school.

Sadly enough, it wasn't until I met my current best friends during my freshman year of high school that I realized how messed up this whole situation was. I genuinely started thinking that being treated so terribly by friends was normal. I never stood up for myself which prevented me from realizing that it’s not okay to let people, especially your friends, talk about you behind your back, ditch you and make you cry. Before entering college and all throughout high school, I vowed to myself that I was never going to be friends with someone who made me feel as terrible about myself as this girl did, and that the moment they start to show a shady side to themselves, I would remove myself from the situation.

So when trying to find friends at the beginning of college, I held on to this vow like never before — and it actually worked! I weeded through all the girls that I didn't mesh with, vibe with or even the ones who were already talking about her other friend behind their back (take notes, that’s never a good conversation starter!), all ultimately to end up in a group of some of the best girls I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Oddly enough, if I wasn't bullied by a mean girl, I never would’ve understood the correlation between happiness and the people you surround yourself with. I wouldn't have been able to notice the early warning signs of a bad friend, and I never would’ve accepted the concept that no friends are better than a ton of really awful ones. Most of all, I would not be as happy as I am today and have the knowledge I do have on the way people treat others.

For all the incoming freshman, don’t take this time lightly. Find the people that make you happy. Quality over quantity.