• author
    • Carolyn Wyler

      Columnist and C.E.O.
    • January 6, 2013 in Columnists

    Mean girls don’t cry

    I walk into the room as the two girls who were having an animated discussion glanced up at me for a millisecond, offered a curt disinterested hello and then turned away in abrupt, awkward silence.

    This time, I had heard a bit of their conversation; normally, if I was anywhere near, I only heard faint murmurs.  On this occasion, they were discussing a party to which I was not invited.  Some days they would bring in goodies they would offer only to each other and eat mockingly in front of me.  Other days they would exchange gifts as I sat and watched. I on the other hand, often brought in baked goods or other gifts that I had no problem sharing with everyone.

    One of the girls could be quite pleasant whenever the other more “popular girl” wasn’t around, but climbed right back into her snooty and pompous chariot when her friend reminded her how I should be treated and that I should not be spoken to.

    Sometimes the silence in the room screamed so loudly it made it difficult to concentrate. There were days I would go over and over in my mind what I was doing wrong and what I could do to get them to, at the very least, speak with me.

    I was unable to get a seat reassignment so I concluded we may not like each other, but we could at least all try to get along. I attempted to make small talk, but was quickly swept back up in my corner where I was left, forgotten, and where ultimately they felt I belonged.

    There were many days I would go home emotionally drained and attempt to unwind in a bathtub filled mostly with my tears. As I lay soaking and trying to relax, my mind would wander in all hundreds of directions. On rare occasions, an evil voice inside my head would try to convince me of ways I might break the mean girls down and bring them to tears.  I quickly quelled that as a bad idea for two reasons:

    Everyone knows that mean girls don’t cry.

    You’re probably thinking, “Oh yeah, high school, I remember those days.” But this isn’t high school.  This is real adult life, although when I say “adult” I mean it in the loosest sense of the word.

    You also might be thinking that I shouldn’t really care what those girls thought of me and you would be right.  It’s not like I desired to be friends with them.  I don’t like people who treat others so dismally (I was not the only one they belittled). It wasn’t so much that I wanted them to like me; I just figured it would make the work environment much more tolerable for all of us if we could at least attempt to be courteous and respectful.

    Sometimes I find it extremely hard trying to play in an adult world with others who still wish to play childish games. The cards are not dealt the same, the games have no rules and it’s not possible to have any real winners. Even as an adult, immature games can really hurt all those who are forced to “play along.”

    Inevitably the “mean girl” moves on, but is often replaced by a different mean name and face. But with just a few more years of experience added to my game, I’m starting to figure out the moves. With a sweet yet subtle mischievous childish smile and an adult-sized tantrum, I grab a firm grip on the edges of the juvenile game board and pull, causing bits and pieces to scatter as I turn and walk away.  There is no space in my life for the drama and not enough time in life to waste playing silly reindeer games.

    • I learned very late in life to get rid of people who drained me and were mean girls/women. Made me life so much easier, too. I also try and not hang with people who live in the past and keep dredging up everything that is wrong in their life and dwelling in it. I like joy, love and good tidings.

    • This sounds like my life from second grade (age 7) on. It's not so much now, but that's just to a lesser degree. Every day I am asked if I have done things so basic that anyone intelligent enough to be employed would need no reminding. I am demeaned constantly. However, one thing that being quite round has told me–the people like this have done me the grand favor of showing their true selves right up front. I am freed of the necessity of tying my heart to these people. I know who they are now, and I can just walk away–if not physically, then in all other ways. But sometimes I swear, if I hear one more person ask me if I've put in my leave slip when I've worked there for 27 years old and I am old enough to be the mother of a number of them…grrr…

      • Christy

      • January 7, 2013 at 9:26 am
      • Reply

      This seems to be really common in the nursing world. I have also felt the sting of being the outsider, or, the new girl. As a new grad I worked on a unit with mostly Filipinos, who's culture I adore, but I would sit in the break room as everyone around me spoke in Tagalog. At UCD I thought I had FINALLY found my peeps. I ADORE the people on my unit, and although it was riddled with clicks I somehow found a way to ride in the middle. When I left UCD for Kaiser due to my health issues and despite my wishes, I was outcasted and ridiculed as yet another nurse who left UCD for Kaiser. This wound still stings 2.5 years later.
      At Kaiser I have made a conscious effort to try to stay away from drama, and to support the outcasts. I still think I could do a better job, but I really enjoy where I am. Dare I say, I'm the nice popular girl, but ultimately this means I'm dumped on and used often.
      I've always felt that the nursing culture is a microcosm of society as a whole, or at least for high school. Is it because it's a female dominated culture? Is it because it's a high pressure, high stakes environment? Sink or swim mentality?
      You definitely are not alone in your experiences. I'm sorry you've had to endure this. I too am learning how to navigate through the nursing counterculture.

      • Carolyn Wyler

      • January 13, 2013 at 8:28 pm
      • Reply

      Christy I think you're right about the nursing field.

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