Mean Girl Or Empowered Woman?

My daughter just finished 6th grade and while it was a great year, she had to push through some challenges with her new friends and classmates. Thankfully, it wasn’t bullying, which was last year’s story, however, it did fall in the “mean girl” category.  I have to admit there were a few moments when I wondered who was parenting these little girls. The question always becomes nature versus nurture. Who’s really responsible when you’re twelve years of age? A few tears later and countless conversations, I’m proud to say Aliya found the light at the end of the tunnel and came out stronger.

I wish I could say the “mean girl” epidemic stops in elementary school, but it creeps into our American culture as adults as well. In March of this year, Josh and I visited Las Vegas to attend a dental event and one evening slipped out to have a special date night. The restaurant’s atmosphere was beautiful and the food was delectable. Do you ever find yourself stopping to savor the moment? Well, I did that night and remember pausing to look at my husband and all the happy tables around us creating memories.

Then I felt it. That feeling that someone or something was watching me. Sure enough, I looked over and noticed a newly sat table nearby looking in our direction. The woman had bright red lips and a short platinum cut. Simply adorable look I thought to myself. I turned back to my date and we continued finishing dinner, but then I felt it again. I did a quick glance and the red lips lady and her two friends were looking at me, laughing, and then looking at me again.

Side note: /If you know anything about my personality, I do NOT like gossip or conversation that tears others down. Since my youth, I’ve been passionate about sticking up for anyone getting bullied or made fun of.  Sometimes I slip up and find myself participating in a conversation that is negative. When that happens, I immediately remind my brain and heart of the no-gossip value and hit the refresh button.

Back to the story…

I immediately looked over my outfit. Did I have something out of place or on my face? Why on earth would complete strangers be laughing at me? Even though I’m a strong personality type, Enneagram 8, I did let this brief experience take the wind out of my sails that night. For whatever reason, this interaction stuck with me for days and stung a bit.

I know, I know there are many of you who would say, “Joanna, you are a strong, confident woman! Don’t ever let people like that get to you!”
While I know that’s true, I am still a human with feelings and while I’ve developed a pretty thick skin over the years, I still want my heart to be soft and feel things. Even the hard stuff.

The bigger question for all of us as women… which category do we fall into? If you’re a little unsure, let’s dive into a quick overview of the characteristics of “mean girls”.

Mean Girls Are All About “ME”
Mean Girls Are Insecure
Mean Girls Fear the Future
Mean Girls Stay Inside The Box
Mean Girls Spread Gossip
Mean Girls Make Others Feel Small
Mean Girls Run From the Competition
Mean Girls Don’t Truly Love Themselves

Even in our amazing dental profession, grown adults regularly choose to attack others in Facebook groups. It literally blows my mind. Living out your democratic rights does not mean you should attack people because they are different from you, have a different business model, a different brand, or different passions, values, and beliefs. Trust me when I say that “calling out” a competitor or another woman who gets under your skin publicly will only hurt you in the long run. We attract the energy we put out into the world, good or bad.

The second best question is…do you know how wonderful it is to live a life empowered as a woman?

It looks this way…

Empowered Women Are Not Threatened
Empowered Women Keep Confidences
Empowered Women Show Humility
Empowered Women Build Others Up
Empowered Women Share the Spotlight
Empowered Women Show Empathy
Empowered Women Show Self Love

Here are some helpful tips for women who want to lean into the empowered version of who they’re meant to be.  

When my kids were young, I would sing that song, “be careful little eyes what you see” or “be careful little ears what you hear”. The cutest little jingle from preschool years, but the message remains true. We are influenced by what we watch and listen to. Consuming more negative content in Facebook groups, news, music, or even books will impact our mindset to be less than positive.

2) Evaluate your COMMUNITY.
It’s no secret that we become who we hang around. Stop and evaluate your community online and in person. How do your friends treat other people? Are they full of respect and kindness? Or are you constantly watching toxic outbursts of anger? If so, look for people who spread light and joy. Yes, I mean look for other women who are encouraging and show empathy. Surround yourself with people who spread happiness and you too will feel happier inside.

3) Evaluate your COURAGE.
“A person’s success in life can be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations she or he is willing to have”. - Tim Ferris
If you have a comment, question, or are bothered by something someone else did or said, then choose to be courageous and have a mature conversation with them. Most likely, they will accept your offer and agree to chat. Leading with diplomacy and asking good questions will get you so much further than venting on social media.

Ladies in dentistry and beyond! None of us are exempt from the negativity ingrained in our American culture, but we can be more than this! Let’s surprise other industries, societies, and generations with how we live and treat one another. Let’s live the empowered life we are meant to live and not look back. Let’s grow our empowered tribe of women together.

For more thoughts on how to unleash your empowerment check out this article fully devoted to strategies that work. Kindness is Your Superpower