Something I’ve come to know as I have grown older is that there are traditions around us that shape who we are. Some traditions are wholesome, like holidays we celebrate and spending time with our family, while others are harmful and endanger us and those around us.
Having been raised in a healthy environment, my mom has taught me to be cautious when it comes to the people I associate with and the habits I pick up from them. But, even so, it is inevitable to face the facts and realize what terrible things are out there, which brings us to the topic of today: GOSSIP.
Gossip isn’t pretty. It separates people, invokes backlash, and involves the feelings of destruction, hopelessness, disgust, and jealousy. It may seem like a harmless exchange about other people’s lives, but it is anything but harmless.
Gossip is degrading. It hurts the people the gossip is generated about, and believe it or not, it hurts the people who are gossiping as well!
Most gossip has to do with material worth: how much money you have, what you look like, how popular you are, etc. But it can also be about the decisions you make and about the type of person you are.
In particular, teen girls, tend to focus on the one thing in your life you’re most insecure about and make you feel horrible when you hear about it. Often, the point of gossip is to hurt another person’s feelings.
As you may know, I am very different from most people my age. While I share lots of common denominators with other teens, I also have lots of things that are unique about me, like that I’m home-schooled, and vegan, and I’m very outspoken and passionate about what I believe in. You may also know that I’m very confident in my own decisions and personality. That’s always been at the essence of who I am.
So, since I am unusually unique, my mom has told me to expect opposition from those who dislike me for being me, and to expect gossip. Words don’t even begin to explain how painful the subject of gossip is for me.
I’ve told the story once, but I’ll tell it for the billionth time to get my point across: I was bullied in elementary school. And that involved gossip. LOTS of it. It’s hurtful to be the subject of gossip, especially when they hit all your buttons.
People who you think are your friends turn their backs on you, and you feel like you can’t count on anyone. It’s the loneliest feeling. You walk into a room and suddenly there’s silence, people give you mean looks and they don’t want to talk to you.
The reason I wanted to write about this is because recently I was triggered by a personal experience. Yes, it involved gossip and it looks like I’ve become the subject of a bit of gossip that has been spread by people whom I thought were my closest friends. It hurts, and it feels like a constant heartache.
Even though I am confident in who I am and the choices I make, I can’t help feeling… alone, and wondering what in the world I do wrong to provoke others dislike for me. But, it’s not your fault if you are being gossiped about. It’s mostly insecurity from those people, and they want to rub it off on you.
So, what to do when you find out your friends aren’t actually your friends and don’t have your best interests at heart?
First, I urge you to take a breather and a calm moment for yourself. Journal. Distance yourself, walk away, even cry (like I did) if you need to. It’s all about taking that time for yourself and caring about your feelings.
Next, speak to someone you trust. A trusted adult, maybe a parent, who can help you get over those feelings. In this situation, I spoke to my mom. She wasn’t thrilled (you should’ve seen the smoke coming from her ears when I told her) but she hugged me and made me feel understood.
And finally, be careful what friends you choose. Address and confront the people who gossiped about you. If you want to extend the hand of friendship again, feel free to, but in my opinion, swim in the opposite direction. My current tactic is to smile, wave, be polite, speak kindly, be an example, but not get involved. The friend who gossips about someone else, will gossip about you, so be cautious.
Also, if you are perpetrating these rumors and gossiping about others, I’d invite you to think twice. How would you feel if someone was saying nasty things behind your back? Having experienced this firsthand, it’s pretty sickening. I encourage you to make amends with those you’ve wronged and you will have friends. You don’t have to gossip to be cool or popular.
We can all make a difference. If you witness gossip firsthand, put an end to it. Say “no, thank you!” and walk away. Tell a trusted adult, and be a friend to those in need. One person taking a stand can change the world!