by Beth Bryant
We all need somebody to lean on…..at least—that’s what the song says. And for the most part, it’s true. We need friendships with other girls to help us navigate the stormy and sometimes epically disastrous waters of middle and high school. But making friends and maintaining those friendships can be hard! Dealing with people who mistreat you or act like you don’t even exist is harder. What’s a God’s Girl do??
First of all, be kind to everyone (even people you might not like!)
Do you ever feel belittled, gossiped about, unaccepted, isolated, or maybe even targeted by other girls? You are not alone. Studies show that teen girls are twice as likely as guys to suffer from anxiety and depression, and drama and girl politics can certainly have a heavy hand in that. In Luke 6:27, Jesus commands us to “Love your enemies, and do good to those who hate you.” Simply loving people who are mean to you might not make that mean person act better, but you will be in the right.
Even Paul seemed to understand how crazy girl world can be. In Galatians, he wrote, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” Sometimes it seems like girls are all biting and devouring one another! It’s not easy to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us or even victimize us—but it’s an important part of being God’s girl—doing the complete opposite of what we might feel like doing.
Loving your neighbors and enemies means praying for those who mistreat you. Why? Because God commands us to, and He has our best interest at heart. When His girls have different reactions than other girls would, people start to pay attention. And when you reflect Jesus, they see Him in you.
You don’t only have to spend time with people who are exactly like you.
When it comes to building friendships, it’s important to understand that the best ones take plenty of time to develop. We tend to gravitate toward people who are like us, whether we like the same hobbies, share personality traits and preferences, or have similar life situations. That’s not a bad place to start!
But you should also be willing to get to know and accept people who are different from you. If you only spend time with friends who are exactly like you, you could inadvertently end up in a clique or exclude girls who could turn out to be wonderful friends! Spending time with lots of different people is a great way to help others feel included and a good way to learn more about the world around you!
Be on guard against your own “mean girl” tendencies. Deep down inside, do you sometimes feel so insecure that putting someone else down seems like it will make you feel better? Sometimes we trivialize other girls’ successes because they make us feel like a failure. Or we are tempted to use deception or other manipulative tactics to try to get what we want. When your inner Regina George starts to come out, take note! Make a point to choose Christ-like attitudes and behaviors instead. Just because everyone else is sucked into the drama, gossip, jealousy, and cliques, doesn’t mean you have to be.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9
Lastly, God’s girls also need to know that no person deserves to carry the weight of making you feel valuable or worthy. Sure, it would be nice if the cool girls at school would notice you. Sure, it would be great if your BFF was always completely and totally reliable. But people are just people—messed up and sometimes hurtful even when they have good intentions. It’s who we are. Only having a right relationship with God—one where we know we are His: redeemed, loved, with a future full of His GOOD plans—can provide us with everything we really need. Only God will ever truly “get” us. He designed us this way so we would seek Him first and know Him better.
Some Practical Tips for Surviving Girl Politics
- Avoid settling into a clique. Switch up your friend groups and sit with different people at lunch when you can (maybe even that girl who sits by herself a lot??).
- Build up other girls. God knows we all need the support, so be the one to write encouraging notes, share compliments freely, and look for ways to make other girls feel special.
- Change the subject. If someone’s not around and they’re being spoken about negatively, pick a new topic, walk away, or remind others that they can talk to that person directly if there is an issue.
- Apologize to other girls you might have treated badly. It’s always God’s will for you to make things right. Not clearing things up can also affect your relationship with Him. (Matthew 5:23-24)
- If someone you know is a target of bullying, take action by telling an adult you trust. It may seem like the opposite of what you want to do, but things can escalate out of hand quickly. A trusted adult can help you come up with a management plan or notify those who can step into the situation.
- Keep your focus outside your circle. Pray for missionaries, volunteer at a soup kitchen or food pantry, serve at your church, or find other ways to reach out to others in compassion.
- Use social media responsibly. Don’t type anything on a screen you wouldn’t say to the person you’re typing it about.
- Get help if you need it. Be on alert for signs of anxiety or depression in yourself that might be caused by friend/frenemy drama such as…. suicidal thoughts, not being able to sleep, sleeping too much, isolating yourself from friends or family, struggling to control emotions, lack of appetite, over-eating, etc…… These are serious concerns and a licensed counselor might be needed to help you process what you’re going through. Be honest with the adults in your life about what you’re dealing with.