Keep looking to the future

I recently had the chance to go home and see family that I have not seen in a long time. It is always weird going home and seeing cousins who were so young when I left for college all grown up. They have always been my younger cousins, and now they are growing into young adults.
I was also able to see the four girls I used to babysit throughout high school. The two oldest girls are about to enter seventh grade and their mom asked me to talk to them about growing up and dealing with mean girls.
This got me thinking about my own experiences being a junior high girl dealing with other junior high girls. The first thing I told them is, “girls are mean.” I am a girl and there is no denying that we can be ruthless, especially in junior high and high school.
The school year will be starting soon and I think this is the perfect time to talk to moms of young girls, and the young girls who may be reading this column.
According to bullyingstatistics.org, girls are more prone to use verbal and cyberbullying rather than physical bullying. Another common form of bullying amongst girls is social alienation. This is when a group of girls target one girl and deliberately shun her simply because they are mad at her or because they think it is funny.
This time in a young girls life is crucial. This is where most people build their confidence for the future. It doesn’t help when you have people in your class who you think are your friends deliberately hurting you.
I remember coming home crying one day because a girl in my class yelled at me for a reason that I still don’t know to this day. This girl was supposed to be my friend and during school pictures she came up to me and just let me have it. I don’t even remember what she told me, I just remember going back to Algebra class and sitting in the back holding back my tears.
Girls are mean.
If I could go back and give my younger self any advice, it would be to not let any of the petty drama get to me. I know it can be difficult to not get involved, especially at a young age when the people surrounding you are the only people you have known your whole life.
The one thing my mom always told me growing up was, “Kailee, you are destined for far greater things than this town has to offer. Do not let some little girl get to you. You will outgrow the toxic people in your life. Do not focus on the toxic, instead focus on the future.”
Life gets so much better if you do not concern yourself with the small things.
Young girls, focus on your schoolwork because that is what is going to matter when you are walking across the stage on graduation night.
That boy who said he loved you but went to prom with your best friend will not matter when you are starting college and furthering you education.
That “friend” who called you fat will not matter when you move away.
Moms, talk to your daughters about your own experiences in junior high and high school. Chances are, you still remember what it felt like to be going through these big transitions in your life. This is a crucial time to help build your daughters confidence.
Talk to them about what is going on. Show them that you are there for them, no matter what.
High school is a time to make memories and that is exactly what you should do. But you shouldn’t let the negative people affect the memories that you will make.
Focus on your future. Don’t get caught up in the petty drama. Things will get better, I promise.

This originally appeared in The Ruston Daily Leader

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