The Mean Girl

By | 2016-02-24T08:59:08+00:00 February 24, 2016|Character, Relationships|

When I look back over my school years, I have many wonderful memories. I attended a small Christian school. I was the oldest in my family, born late in the year, and kind of a quiet kid at school. So I appreciated the fact that I pretty much knew everyone there. It felt safe and comfortable. I liked my teachers and I had friends. In grade 8, I had one very close friend who I felt comfortable to be myself around and we spent every recess laughing and talking.  

Grade 9 began the same way, but things changed when we took a class ski trip (Yes, there is a hill in Manitoba!).  I remember the first day was a lot of fun, falling down laughing with my friend as we repeatedly tumbled down the hill in a tangle of skis and equipment. That evening, I felt a bit ill and went to bed early, while the rest of the class hung out together. The next morning my friend drove in a different vehicle to the ski hill and I didn’t run into her again for the rest of the day. It seemed strange, but I still wasn’t feeling well so I shrugged it off. I spent a few days at home and finally returned the following Monday.

Silent Treatment

It didn’t take long for me to realize something was up. I wasn’t the most outgoing kid but no matter who I said hi to that morning, no one answered me. By afternoon, one of the guys had pity on me and told me that a few girls had decided amongst themselves and convinced my friend that they were no longer going to speak to me or acknowledge my presence in any way. And just like that, with the snap of one mean girl’s finger, I went from spending my recess laughing and playing ping pong in the hallway, from feeling confident and safe and comfortable, to hiding in the bathroom, waiting for the bell to ring and class to begin.

Monday turned into Tuesday and then Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I didn’t think it would last, I mean, I had known these girls since grade 1. They were subtle enough that not one of my teachers ever noticed and being a kid who never rocked the boat, I didn’t even consider telling them. And looking back I really can’t say why I didn’t tell my parents either. Maybe because I didn’t realize these girls’ staying power and by the time a month had passed, I was kind of used to the routine.

In fact, I never told a soul.

Mean words or insults were never spoken but it didn’t matter. Silence is a weapon just as deadly. It was a dagger straight to the heart of my confidence and my self-worth. And though not every girl actively participated in the shunning, they stood by silently and though they offered me an apologetic smile from time to time, they did nothing to stop it. 

Spewing Venom

The thing that still bothers me today is that I never questioned it. I didn’t put the blame at the feet of those girls where it belonged, but I just went with the assumption that it was me. I wasn’t worthy. That’s where the insight of an adult would have been valuable. But I bottled it up inside and pretty much spewed venom once I got home. My sister took the brunt of it and though the guilt of taking out my anger on her haunts me to this day, I am privileged to call my sister my best friend. She has offered me grace and forgiveness without a word of accusation or resentment.

And to be honest, looking back, I’m sure that is what got me through that year. I had the most wonderful loving parents, siblings, and extended family. It was hard. It was painful. It was lonely. But when I walked in that door at night, no matter how broken I was on the inside, I knew I was loved. 

Poking the Bear

It is still hard for me to think back on those days. Frankly, even writing about it this many years later required the use of Kleenexes. I ask myself why. Is it self pity? It’s almost like I long to find a way to reach back in time and wrap my arms around that lonely, confused girl, to comfort and reassure her. Grade 9 was the final year in that little school and the following year, many of us attended a Mennonite high school where we were little fish in a big pond. 

The first day of school, like the glutton for punishment I was, I sought out these same girls at assembly and sat next to them. Better to face the “enemy” I knew, than risk encountering an even worse enemy. But suddenly, in this new school, facing all these strangers, they were in the same position I was. And it was as if I’d imagined the previous year. They talked to me as if it had never happened. Not wanting to “poke the bear,” I said nothing until a few weeks later when I worked up the courage to ask my former best friend, “Why?”

“I don’t know” was the only answer I was given. Extremely unsatisfying, but likely very honest. There truly was no reason. There was nothing wrong with me. I had done nothing to deserve it.

It was the only time we ever referred to it and though I carried on “friendships” with those girls, I was cautious, guarding my heart carefully. But gradually God brought other people into my life who started to knock down the walls I’d put up. I met a girl my first week of college who became my closest friend for the next four years. I’ll never forget the day she turned to me and through her tears of laughter said, “Krista, you always make me laugh. You are so funny.” Such a simple statement. She knew nothing of my history. But it jolted me to my core. I’ve never forgot that moment. It was balm to a very bruised soul and it was the beginning of God doing a beautiful work of restoring and healing in my life.  

Defending the Underdog

I’ve changed so much since then. I still bear scars from that year and often battle the lies while listening hard for the voice of truth. But God has also used my experiences to refine me. He developed my compassion, my sense of justice, my loyalty. I value true friendship in a way that I don’t think I ever could have before. I’m passionate in defence of the underdog. Just ask my kids. I’ve shocked them more than once when I’ve jabbed an accusing finger at their chest and asked, “Did you stand up for them? Did you participate in laughing or talking about them behind their back?!” It’s a bit of a hot button topic for me so I tend to be a little overzealous. But I’m also passionate about teaching my kids where their true value lies, that first and foremost they are a child of God. A heavy price was paid for them and they can stand tall in the knowledge of who they are and whose they are. 

We all run into “mean girls.”  I can’t prevent it for my kids or intervene every time someone hurts their feelings. Not every “mean girl” is an instigator or a ring leader but the damage we do when we do nothing is just as devastating. When we stand by and watch it happen; when we smile at the mean joke; when we don’t “unfriend” that person who keeps posting junk about people. An uncomfortable realization was discovering that I had a “mean girl” hidden inside me as well. In the midst of my misery I turned around and did it to my sister. 

So all this personal growth, all these lessons learned, does that mean, if I had to go back, I’d choose to do it again? Not a chance! But thankfully it’s not up to me. I can defer to His wisdom and trust that none of it was beyond His control. 

I may not like thinking back on that time of my life but I do like who I am. And that’s not something I was able to say for a long time. It’s only by His grace.


  1. Brenda February 24, 2016 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing your story with insight, passion and grace.

  2. Mark Colvin February 24, 2016 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    Hello, my name is Mark and I live in Australia. I used to live in Abbotsford and I’m friends with your friend Kim Cruson. My sister lives in Abbotsford and she is a writer too. Here is a recent article that she wrote that might resonate with you.
    Writers need other writers to bounce ideas off of and it sounds to me like you two have a lot in common. I sent her your article and maybe if you are both feeling brave you could meet up for coffee and talk about writing.
    Now I might be the overbearing big brother in this situation but if you are a friend of Kim’s then I know you are a quality person. I can vouch that my sister is also a quality person and an excellent writer! Who knows? Maybe you two might even already be friends, I’m just putting it out there. I haven’t asked her permission but you can contact her through shelovesmagazine, you can find her on facebook or you can ask me for contact info. Anyway, I thought your article was great and I hope you keep up with the writing.

  3. Hannah B February 24, 2016 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story – how those thoughtless actions can cause such pain. . . .so thankful God turned it to good in your life.

  4. GLB February 24, 2016 at 6:04 pm - Reply

    As usual, a beautifully written, heartfelt and “oh so needed” article. Thank you.

  5. Joanne Siepman February 24, 2016 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    Once again you made me cry about something I knew nothing about until it was too late to help. I am sure your story will help others who are going through something like this or have children who are going through difficulties at school. We love you and are so proud of your ability to write and make an impact on many people.

  6. Rdh February 24, 2016 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    Wow, you described so well almost exactly what I experienced, only thing these same girls were also from my church and it went on for several years. The bullying often was so subtle! I too am in tears right now just remembering. The consequences of those years has remained both subtly and not so subtly in my life to this day. I still have major issues with trust and trusting the motives of others. It can be debilitating! Even though I know with my head it wasn’t me, my emotions don’t always follow!
    Beneath the surface is always doubt. I really have to guard my self talk.
    I too was super zealous with my kids when I heard of any type of name calling, bullying etc….
    Very affirming to me was when, as adults, many of the girls from that class had a bit of a reunion and the girls confessed to me what happened. One ‘mean girl’ who set the tone and the rest followed. These ladies felt very bad and apologized.
    Anyways….thanks for sharing….in words that fit so well!

  7. Amy February 24, 2016 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing your story, beautiful friend. God uses everything for our good.

  8. Wendy Glazema February 25, 2016 at 4:32 am - Reply

    Thanks for Sharing. Unfortunately I think there are a lot of us who in some way were involved in a situation similar to this, either on the giving or receiving or maybe both ends. It’s a sad thing either way

  9. Lynn February 25, 2016 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    I was a parent watching my sons go thru this. I talked to other parents and to teachers, to no avail. I really think that if we had made the kids sit down and talk it out, the mean ones might have realized what they were doing to the other kids (they probably still don’t know) but I gave in to the others and didn’t pursue having the kids follow the biblical mandate to go to one another.

  10. Gerry February 25, 2016 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    I agree with Lynn. Having students take ownership of their actions is the first step to restoration. We have worked very hard to use Restorative Practices at ACS and although not perfect, we have found the outcomes to be much better. Even today, two students who were at odds with each other and who had experienced bullying in both directions, sat down and went through the questions of Restorative Justice with me. What happened? What were you thinking at the time? How were you feeling? Who was impacted by these actions? What can you take responsibility for and how will you fix what is broken? Every time we go through this process we find students to be reflective and thoughtful in understanding the issues. It doesn’t guarantee success, but it sure does provide an opportunity for a better outcome. I would guess that most bullies don’t deeply know the impact they have on people until someone leads them toward understanding. Adults in schools are the people to facilitate this. Krista, thank you for your insight and poignant writing. You have a gift. GG (Secondary Principal, ACS)

  11. Evelyn February 25, 2016 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    Heart wrenching and so common< I'm afraid. We need to teach our kids that the bystander has the power to change the situation. Love your neighbour and show it by being the voice of the broken!!

  12. Roy February 25, 2016 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Krista. Most people who know me know I cry quite easily so I am not ashamed to admit this made me cry. The fact that it still has that effect on you is not self-pity. I think it is that we recognize the pain caused by brokenness and when it is shared so eloquently, we identify with it. Even though God’s grace has taken you way beyond that pain, it will always be a part of who you are. One of my favorite movie lines is from Grand Canyon when the character played by Danny Glover says “It doesn’t have to be this way.” Hopefully this article will help more of us stand up and say that when we see mean actions.

  13. Angela dekker February 25, 2016 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    This is a subject very dear to me as well, I wish children could recognize the long lasting impact their words/actions can have on someone’s mental well being. I think often about those kids that were tormented when I was in school… It comes as no surprise to me that many have fallen away from the church…. Something I pray for forgiveness often… Something many of us will have to answer for on the day of reconing….

  14. My Lord Lives February 25, 2016 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    Oh Krista….your words could have been mine. I spent 4 years in a Christian School enduring the same. Fifty years later my inner child still cries when I remember my 10th birthday where every girl I invited said they’d come and then an hour later, they all backed out. Never mind that they all showed up as a “surprise”…. the damage was done. Those 4 friend-less years were the most miserable of my life. I run into a few of those girls at weddings and funerals now and go out of my way to avoid them. In hindsight I know that I was shaped by those experiences and I wouldn’t change who I am… I also like who I am. Thank you for your words. God bless you with joy!

  15. Bonnie February 26, 2016 at 8:01 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing Krista, I could relate to this while I went to a Christian school many years ago. You sure have lots of courage to share what you experienced. I understand that it was not a pleasant experience to be treated that way. God bless you.

  16. Wendy miner January 2, 2017 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing Krista. I too had similar experiences . Grade 7 was a very lonely year for me. Grade 8 was better as more students from other Christian schools blended in. I try not to think of those years. To remember the good times about school. The friendships I have made,and still have today.

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