Tuesday 2 October 2018

When girls are cruel to other girls

I'm 28 years old but I still feel butterflies twist themselves around my guts when I pass a group of teenage girls in the street or in a shopping centre - always fearful they're going to whispering about me, laughing at me. Wondering whether one of them will say something cruel and I might be unlucky enough to overhear. I never used to be paranoid or even think twice about groups of teenage girls walking past, but that was before I experienced the scars that come with the bitchiness, nastiness, the bullying from my teenage years. The upset and devastation that happens when girls are cruel to other girls.

When girls are cruel to other girls it can... 

Shatter your confidence 

A decade ago I learnt a nasty lesson; girls can be cruel to other girls - even if they're supposed to be one of your so-called best friends. I had this through my secondary school years, although it hit the worst heights during sixth-form. One of my best friends was a "fair-weather friend", as my mum always called her. When she decided she was cool with you she was cool with you. When someone new entered our group she'd quickly lose interest in me and would often mirror their behaviour. Unfortunately for me the new girl to enter our group in sixth-form had a real nasty streak and my friend quickly idolised her - mirroring her behaviour at every opportunitySoon enough I became the outcast of the group and the rest of my "friends" would do things like run away from me at lunch-times, talk about me behind my back whilst I was in earshot and laugh at my expense. I wanted to stay in their group as I had no other friends and was scared of being on my own.

I remember once they invited me to meet them at McDonalds in town but never turned up. I sat there alone, waiting. They left me a voicemail full of stifled laughter saying they couldn't make it because one of them was "ill". I quickly became withdrawn and guarded. I was deemed as "depressed" by one of them in the corridor once. Holding her hand up: "Go away, why are you even here? You're just so depressed. No, don't even talk to me. You're just so depressed". The rest of them thought this was hilarious as I tried to laugh the hurt I felt off, attempting to pretend I didn't care. Whenever I tried hard to pluck up the courage to contribute something to a conversation, it was always ignored, met with sarcasm or spiteful laughter, sometimes just more of the whole "bitching about you while you're in earshot" shit. In the end I started hanging around on my own.

Ruin your life 

Life got worse for me when I left sixth-form and started college. The "fair-weather friend" and I were on the same course. I thought it would be a good thing, that maybe her and I could get back to how we were before. We'd had a brilliant friendship full of laughs and fabulous memories in the early days. I guess a big part of me was holding out for more of the same. On our college course we soon made friends with a third girl who seemed nice at first. I disliked college and hated all the unfamiliarity there, I had zero confidence and never felt like I belonged. Everyone was so loud, so sure of themselves and while all their personalities came out to play I just became a shell of myself. This made it difficult to ever fit in but at least at the start I had a friendship again with my "fair-weather friend" and this new girl. We got along fine and the three of us went out to the cinema, to Camden, on shopping trips.

Something changed once term started again after the Easter break. There was this bad vibe surrounding them and I knew something was wrong. They soon became ridiculously cliquey and would ignore me, spend lunchtimes talking to each other and barely even register my presence. We'd be sitting on a bench and they'd turn their backs on me and have a whole conversation during lunch hour without including me once. Just like sixth form I couldn't win; if I tried to make conversation it was just ridiculed, if I stayed silent I was deemed as moody. The spiteful bitchiness soon started, they'd spend lessons laughing at me together, looking over and making comments. I'd race to catch up with them once lunch and breaks started and often they'd try and dash off without me which hurt. I still remember waiting at the bus stop with my friend once and she was being pleasant enough with me as the new girl wasn't around to impress. When she got on her bus a few girls standing near me started bitching about her outfit, ripping her to shreds for what she was wearing. Even though she was on the bus and oblivious to the bitching I felt bad for her despite the fact that she'd done the same to me countless of times - because I knew what it was like. In lessons at college whenever I tried to say something to one of them they'd pretend to be nice and then I'd hear them laughing and whispering about me some more. Again I was terrified of being on my own but soon enough I realised I was better off that way. I'd spend lunch-times alone and feel down but relieved. 

I couldn't believe it was happening yet again; a never-ending pattern. It was like sixth-form all over again. I didn't know what I'd done to deserve it. In a way it felt worse than the bullying at sixth-form, at least there the school was familiar and I could walk home at lunch if I wanted. College was a scary and horrible experience - I hated every moment. I think my tutor guessed something was up as he referred me to a college guidance admin person who spoke to me about future career prospects. "Is there something wrong?" she asked me during one session. "You seem really down, is there anything going on that you want to talk to me about?" I ended up pouring out to her about everything that was happening. She was really kind and it felt like a massive relief to open up and talk to someone. She called in my tutor and made him aware of what was going on, and my other tutors were told, too. I was referred to see a college counsellor. Although she was lovely and patient it didn't really help, I just felt stupidly paranoid that one of the girls might walk past the counselling room and hear what I was saying through the walls and my life at college would become even more hellish as a result. Once the whole class went on a trip to Thorpe Park and I was the only one not to go. My tutor was sweet and tried to convince me to go. "Don't you want to go to Thorpe Park? It should be fun, everyone else is going. Don't miss out,", but I think he could see in my eyes that my heart wasn't in it. It was the last thing I wanted, having to spend any more time with those two fiends than I had to. 

It wasn't just college that was hell - my weekends were spent working at a shitty job which I absolutely loathed. Everyone working there bar one or two people were absolute assholes, even on my last day there they gathered round in a circle and ignored me pointedly. The same "friend" worked there on weekends with me too, alongside one of the other girls who'd been in our group at sixth-form. There was no escape. I took to hiding in the toilets at lunch-times I became so unhappy. The same kind of behaviour continued at my job, my friend ignored me repeatedly in front of a group of people when I sat down to say hello making me feel humiliated and lost. I continued to try and be the best friend I could to her, taking the blame when we both arrived late for work and doing things like buying her a cake from the cafe when she'd been moaning about her shift and visiting her with some DVDs when she'd been ill. My mum also gave her a lift home after work every shift. Mum knew all about this girls behaviour but I'd made her keep quiet and not confront her as I didn't want more trouble. Looking back I can't believe what a mug I was, you live and learn. Feeling vulnerable I was scared of the power she had, I didn't want even more upset.

One day it hit me at college that enough was enough and I made the decision to quit my job. Quitting my job there and finally getting to leave college when it ended was the biggest relief I'd ever felt. I stuck college out to the end, even though some days I called in sick, too frightened to go in. After leaving college and ending my job I was left with wrecked self-esteem, crushed confidence and zero self-worth. I had to rebuild my confidence from scratch and at that point I had no idea where to even start. Read my story on smashing low-self esteem.

Make you paranoid 
My boyfriend always says that whenever we're out and someone looks at me I automatically think it's for a bad reason and he's right. Even though I'm getting better at this and not always assuming the worst, it's a battle. I was left with crippling paranoia after sixth-form and college, I automatically assumed everyone was whispering about me out in public, bitching about me, thinking nasty thoughts. After having so many so-called friends constantly laughing at me and bitching about me it was my natural reaction to believe everyone else would be doing nothing less everywhere I went. I couldn't go in shops, I felt too humiliated and untrendy for Topshop. I got tense when walking past groups of girls, I still do. At one point I found it too hard to even face the corner shop. Those feelings of paranoia crept in only the other day when I was in some busy toilets drying my hands and I caught two girls looking at me and making a remark to each other. I find it so difficult not to assume the worst. 

Make it hard to trust people 
I have a couple of female friendships that I cherish but during my 20's I've struggled to maintain or even make female friendships. I am very wary of who I trust and a major part of me just can't be bothered with the hassle of it all. Once you get burnt badly your guard stays up and I've had to end a few female friendships early on because I've just not been able to cope. When girls are cruel to other girls it can fracture friendships forever. 

Destruct your inner-strength. 
Maybe this was why I was so upset when out shooting blog photos recently. We bit the bullet and shot outside a pretty pink shop in the midst of a busy high street. I always knew it was going to be a challenge, but I really wanted the gorgeous backdrop. I attracted lots of bitchy looks, death stares and general nudges, whispers and people just deciding to laugh at me outright. I'll be honest, it f*cking hurt. The worst thing for me was that most of the people partaking in the aforementioned behaviour were women - grown women who left high-school long ago. Grown women pushing prams - two baby girls - who are being brought up by women who think it's okay to laugh at other women, to rip other women's confidence to shreds, to crush another woman's confidence. What kind of a hope do those babies have if their own mothers treat other women with such disregard and disrespect? After we'd shot the photos we wanted I was shaking all over. The nastiness really got to me. It's a bit of a confidence crusher when you've got people laughing at you, not even bothering to hide snide smiles and bitchy looks.

Make you stronger 
I never had the courage to ever stand up for myself or challenge the bullying. On the last day at my job I put on this massive act to this "friend", just so she thought everything was okay. I can still remember how exhausted I felt, smiling and acting like I was fine when really I wanted it all to be over. I waved her off, told her I'd drop a birthday card in the post for her (which I did) knowing that would be the last time I'd ever see her. That was in August 2008, and we had no contact until December 2008 when she text me and asked if she could come round to mine. The text really shook me up and I felt the old feelings of vulnerability come back to haunt me. I was miles away in Swindon that day and my mum's friend (who's brilliant) told me to send an unenthused text back, she didn't deserve anything less. Even then I didn't have it in me, I sent a polite text back. The other girl from college also messaged me on Facebook and was being sarcastic with me and bitchy. Looking back I can't believe I gave either of them the time of day.

I've now learnt - a little too late - that no one ever has the right to make your short life such hell. I assumed all the bullying was something I had to suffer with, something I got heaped with so I therefore deserved. I assumed it was my fault and that I just had to put up with it - that there were no other options. How untrue that was. No one should ever have the right. No one deserves power over you, you DON'T deserve to suffer or to put up with shitty people like that. If you can please walk away, if you can please stand up for yourself and please remember that you're a strong as hell person while the bully is just a weak, broken, fragile human being who has to use you to gain inner-strength.

Today I can finally say I'd never allow anyone to ever treat me this way again - unfortunately I've dealt with bullying in the past in previous jobs, too. I've often been vulnerable and exposed to such treatment due to being too nice and polite, getting taken advantage of in the process. Life is too short to let other people treat us like shit, and I've certainly been through enough of that to not come out fighting should anyone test me in this way again. I was once broken but I built myself up - block by block - into another woman entirely. I'm not the scared, shy and fragile girl I once was who looked down at the floor instead of up at the sky. If people put me down I won't just apologetically believe them, I'll give them what for. I'm now a strong, assured and confident woman who's writing her first novel, running her fashion blog and is aiming solely at the stars. I have many off days, bad days where I'm reminded of the girl I used to be - but I won't ever let them define me in the same way ever again.

I didn't particularly want to relive these memories or write about this but then I realised this is the post my 18 year old self really needed and didn't have. I'm sharing my story in the hope that anyone out there going through the same thing can seek strength and feel less alone. You'll get through this, I promise. 

When girls are cruel to other girls it can leave eternal scars. Let's be kind, instead of cruel. 




  1. Great post (not for the content but for how honest you are about you feel) I think this post will make people feel less isolated who are perhaps going through the same or have been through the same.

  2. Beautiful post, honest frank and well written as usual xxx

  3. I have been through experiences just like these and I can remember only too well how painful it is. I'm so glad you're in a place now where you're able to put it all behind you, and I am sure your words will help other people going through the same thing now. x

    Kate Louise Blogs

  4. I have been through same situation and experiencing this kind of situation now. I always feel like i am out off the box. You post is being very helpful.

  5. Sophie, this is one of the realest and honest posts I've ever read, on this subject particularly. I relate so strongly to these experiences; looking back you think why the hell did I put up with this?? But of course, when you're in school/college especially, it's so much more difficult, namely because you see these """friends""' every day. Workplace isolation is even worse - you're much more self aware and feeling like you want to burst into tears feels even less unjustified (aren't I supposed to be an adult?!) Major props to you on writing this, it is indeed the post we all needed to read. <3

  6. Girls are really cruel to others, I hated secondary school and I'm not friends with many from school. I'm 31 and I still get nervous walking past groups of girls haha xx

    Gemma Etc. ❤️

  7. When I see that someone is talking about me I just don`t care :D I love your post ♥


  8. I am so glad that you made this post. As someone who also has felt this way on man of occasions. Thank you. also, BTW!! you look absolutely amazing

    Davey | https://davveyjo.com/

  9. Thank you for sharing your heart with us, Sophie. I, too, was bullied from about third grade (elementary school) to my first or second year of high school. I was even verbally abused by a teacher during one of those years. I can really relate to the feeling of having zero self-esteem and confidence. In addition, I am on the autism spectrum and an INFJ (the RAREST Myers-Brigg personality type). However, slowly, I am learning to know my value and worth--infinite in God's eyes. So, you are not alone. By the way, I think you are a beautiful person, inside and out! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

  10. People can be really mean. And although what you usually hear is dont let them get to you, you are human and it will eventually get to you. Sorry you had to go through this.

  11. Amazing post & really brave to share! I can relate to a lot of what you mentioned. I know the feeling of the bitchy cliques, sniggering & people being too faced. Your experience at being set up at McDonalds reminded me of a similar experience I've had. We seem to have a lot in common when it comes to things like this. I never knew where I stood with so called friends, pally with you one min & stabbing you in the back the next. You've done so amazing to come through all of this & I hope any young girls going through this at school or uni read this. As for older women being bitchy, I was shocked myself. I used to think older women couldn't be bitch cause they were supposed to be older, wiser & mature lol, sometimes they're the worst!! Much love as always queen x

  12. Great post and I completely understand you because I have similar experience in school. In that time I didn't know what to do and only smile while I suffer inside me, but how I get older I realize that I can't any more smile and it's time to do something.My confidence was 0 but then I read one sentence "You need to put value on yourself. How people treat you depending only of you" and i know that I need act alone. First time when I hear that someone talking about me and laugh I collect all my power and come to that girl and tell her If she want to said something to me, she need to said to in my face, not behind my back. She was so shock because never expect that type of reaction from my side, but she didn't said anything.
    After that I realize that people who are cruel are people who are week and need help, because someone else bullying them, maybe at home, and they don't know how to fight with that and find another victim.
    People can act with you how you let them to act to you and that is something about I think every day and really help me in life.

    Blog - http://www.exclusivebeautydiary.com
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  13. Hello beautiful, I hear every word you say. I have been through myself but mine started in my own home with family members, mistreated, being invisible, ignored, and clearly been told that I was not good enough and I had to be like others. Then I had a few friends that would treat me in a way when we were by ourselves (best friends ever) but s soon as someone else came in the scene I was made fun off and humiliated. then came marriage and again I was never good enough no matter how much I did so I put myself last and I put myself clearly in a position where I was expected to be, others would treat me like an idiot and I took it quietly for away too long, then came children and I promised they would be protected and nobody would ever humiliate them, mistreat them or abuse them. They started school the bullying started in prep My fight against it started then and it did not stop for almost the whole primary school years. I fought against bully so hard, it devastated me so much for so long that I ended up suffering a stroke. However, I managed to put an end to it and my children no longer get bullied, they loved their high school and everything is at peace. I am going through a divorce because I decided to love myself. So here is a tip, love yourself. If someone does not like you it is their problem not yours (I don't know who said that but it is genius) and eliminate, I mean delete anyone who are toxic in your life, it took me away too long to do these things but I did. Trust me I am so much happier. Beautiful post. Have a wonderful day gorgeous. xoxo cris

  14. I'm so happy to hear your journey has lead you to never stand to be treated than less than you're worth baby girl - and believe me, you're worth SO much Sophie! I'm really sorry to hear how cruel some girls were to you when you were younger; nobody deserves that. Gosh, I certainly don't miss school days haha. I forever wish I could pluck everyone out of school and keep them safe whenever I see young girls walking off to school looking a little down in the dumps haha :) hope you're having a fabulous week so far beauty!!

    aglassofice.com x

  15. Wow Sophie, sorry you had to experience such cruelty in your education days. I can imagine how intense and horrible this must have been. I haven't experienced something like this before, but I'm aware of these kinds of behaviours when I was in school and even as a teacher now. You're a strong lady and thank God you're in a better place now. You're touching lots of people with this personal posts.
    Much love!


  16. Girl, I am SO proud of you! Bullying like that for years is just not ok, it's awful, and I'm sorry they knocked you down so much that you felt helpless and it's affected you now. I fully understand. Women can be bitchy, and in truth I don't have many female friends as I've always got on better with guys, you know where you stand. I'm so glad you are in a much better place though, and blogging will continue to help with that as we're all very supportive of each other. You are amazing, you look pretty, have a unique and cool sense of style, you seem caring, there's nothing that can put you down because whatever others treatment is usually comes from a place of unhappiness on them. Your old friend is a pure example of that, feeling the need to change herself multiple times into different people just to fit in with who is around her - deep issues. I'm sure the people looking at you taking photos isn't as bad as you think too :) I used to be terrified and panic too, but now I realise that people just look because it's different, not because they think it's funny or you're stupid etc, they just look as it's photos being taken, then they go about their business. I wouldn't worry too much about that at all :) It's something you will get used to xx.

    Raindrops of Sapphire

  17. I'm so sad you had to put up with such terrible behaviour! Your 'friends' don't sound like friends at all! I had the occasional drama growing up but mostly still keep in touch with my highschool friends - it is easier to brush off the mean or rude comments if you have some trusted friends to rely on, and there are a couple of friends I'm so lucky to have known most of my life. I am glad you have your boyfriend to encourage and support you, I hope you find more trustworthy friends soon :)

    Away From The Blue Blog

  18. Dear Sophie! I know what you mean bullying is so hard, I got bullied in the past too and still to this day I hate walking by alone by myself at a crowd of young people in the fear of people laughing or shouting at me. I usually have my headphones on so I can't hear - helped me a lot.
    Wish you good weekend! Best greetings x Eva

  19. It's really brave of you to share your story on here, even thought it must have been so hard - I'm proud of you! I can't believe how nasty these people were, you absolutely did not deserve that. No one does, even if they aren't as lovely and caring as you. I can actually relate a lot to your story - I was in an abusive friendship all throughout secondary school and not only did it bring on some bad coping mechanisms and low self-esteem, it also led to trust issues. Like you said, once you've been badly burnt you don't let down your guard so easily. I haven't seen the "friend" in 4 years but honestly, I'm not sure what I'll do when I see her (which might be next year as it's our 5th anniversary of leaving school and there will be an event). People don't realise how much you internalise the nasty comments, thinking that it is you who is flawed. Which is not the truth, bullying always is a reflection of the bully, never the victim. After 8 years of struggling through secondary school things got better for me at uni - all my friends are supportive - but friendships are still incredibly difficult for me and I don't know if I'll ever feel completely okay and safe around anyone apart from my brother maybe. Anyway, I am so proud of you for building yourself back up, that takes a lot of strength. You're an amazing person and you deserve all the love and happiness in this world xxx