When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. We must go through bitter waters before we reach the sweet. Cliché after cliché after cliché. And you know what? They are all true.
I probably shouldn’t be talking about this, and I won’t name names. There are people in my life, both past and present, who know exactly what this post is about, though only those close to me know what went down. I’m trying to move on, and I’m working on it. Every. Damn. Day. But I’m sharing this with you, my dear readers (is anyone out there?) because I have learned something from my experiences, and maybe I can help others who have been here before.
I’ve mostly always been the type of person that gets along with other people, even the difficult personalities that others can’t play nice with I’ve had a knack for being that empathetic friend that people would call crying in the middle of the night after a few beers. I’ve even had complete strangers break down and tell me their sad stories because they just needed someone to talk to. But despite this, I’ve had problems on occasion with mostly women who feel somehow threatened by me. This is not because I’m pretty or skinny or talented. This is not me tooting my own horn, not by a long shot. This isn’t about how great I am, it’s about how broken they are. Because there always have and always will be those people that feel the need to push your face in the dirt so they can stand in the sun.
It starts early in school if you are a girl. Mean girls. You’ve seen the movie, right? Those girls are real. The boys get into fights, but it’s always more up front and less emotionally taxing. I remember the very first mean girl who hurt my heart so bad that I couldn’t breathe. Her name was Hillary and it was first grade. She told me that she hated me and she ripped up the birthday invitation her mother had made for me to her party. Every kid in the class had been invited, but she said there was NO WAY she was letting ME come to her party. I still remember that and it was 1st f-cking grade.
There were lots of stories like that in my life. All through school, I was mercilessly teased because I developed earlier than the other girls, and I had my share of jobs with horrible co-workers and managers who held their knowledge over my head and made me cry. All of those experiences were because people were so insecure that they had to pounce on me and they knew I was weak. I was the nice girl, not the mean girl. But I guess the last straw came about a year ago, out of which Healthy Girl Fitness LLC was born from the ashes.
I’ve struggled most of my life for confidence in everything. I grew up with a stepmother who told me I was “bad” every day and who was both mentally and physically abusive. As a result, I second-guessed every choice I made and was terrified to be a bother to anyone at all. I never felt I was good at anything or deserved accolades for accomplishments, though I definitely enjoyed a good brag sometimes to help prove to everyone, including myself, that I could do things. And after losing 80 lbs and running a few marathons, I felt like maybe I had something to offer other ladies out there, those who had struggled themselves and didn’t relate to the trainers who had never had “fat jeans” or been embarrassed to run into people in public because they’d gained so much weight. I thought maybe I could give them something that the had lost.. Hope. This is the reason I decided to get certified to be a personal trainer. This is the reason that I got certified with the RRCA to be a running coach too.
I wanted to be the opposite of a mean girl. I was the nice girl, the one people could come to for support and positive feedback. And I found I had a lot to give. I finally felt like I could be among supportive women. Many of us were going through similar phases in life and it felt comforting to not be alone in it. And then after a couple of years, the tribe door slammed in my face.
There was one person there who felt threatened by me somehow, who always saw everything as a competition. Unfortunately, she had a lot of power over the group, and she wasn’t going to let me win, despite the fact that I wasn’t trying to compete for anything at all. It was 1st grade all over again, with the party invitation scattered at my feet. Some people never change, but their methods of challenging people change as they get older.
Because unnecessary drama had reached a point where I couldn’t do my job anymore, I had two choices staring me in the face. I could retreat and let the mean girls win. Sure, I could get another job in a different field. I’d done it before many times. It would certainly be the easier path. That's what the nice girl would do, right? But after years of letting people make me feel bad for things that weren’t my fault, after decades of egos and insecurities getting in the way of my happiness, I knew I had to take the bumpy road. I didn't have to be the mean girl OR the nice girl. It was then that I created Healthy Girl Fitness.
I think some people thought that I would give up and disappear, but I still had the same mission I always had, which was to help people. It certainly is harder to start a business when other people are sabotaging you, especially when they are fighting a battle you aren’t even trying to participate in, but I had people approaching me all the time asking for help.
I believe in yet another cliché and that is that there are different strokes for different folks. I was willing to offer them something different than what had been offered before. It wasn’t better or worse, it was simply a new choice. We should all have choices. And we should ALL support each other in this world, especially when we are trying to bring good things into it.
To be fair, there are mean boys too. I could write a whole different post on them. But this is primarily addressing the women of the world because we already have so much stacked against us in business and in life without us turning on each other. When our army is small but mighty, it makes no sense to turn and fight each other when we should be standing back to back.
I was told once that instead of getting angry, sad, or depressed, we should feel only pity when we come across people who want to see us fail. Because how sad are their lives that they need to crush us to make themselves feel superior? This is probably the best approach we can have towards a mean girl.
I can’t change the mean girls of the world, but I sure can try to rise above it and build something beautiful from the lessons I have learned in that toxic environment. It makes me a better a trainer, a better coach, a better wife and mother, and a better friend to all.
No more mean girls in this ugly world. Long live the healthy girls.