Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Something I Hate
Cattiness. Before I continue, I am going to provide a definition, because when I told the guys at my work that I was writing a blog on cattiness, they had no idea what I was talking about. So,the definition of catty is: "Subtly cruel or malicious; spiteful: a catty remark."
I am NOT going to say I have never been guilty of this. I am a girl, so of course I have had my catty moments. I still have them. I can be a total brat sometimes. I grew up in a family that started out with four girls. If you don't think gossip was a favorite topic of conversation, you are dead wrong. I remember multiple times at the dinner table talking about how "Oh my GOSH he said.... and then she said...!!!" "I cannot BELIEVE how rude she was to her! I mean, seriously!" "Whatever, she's not even cute!" My mom always cut us off quickly when the topic got catty. "No gossip! Her name is safe in our house!" (What does that even mean??) Usually we would just continue our conversations out of earshot, but I still knew that gossiping was not something that was tolerated in our house.
In my current ward, I was always on top of the gossip. My friend Brent, who was even more into it than I was, used to say I was the gossip queen of the ward. Now I am significantly less on top of it, mostly because I got a boyfriend, but I still like to know what's going on. However, I was never mean in my gossiping. It wasn't about what someone was wearing or how stupid so and so is, it was about how so and so was dating so and so and who liked who. And I didn't go spreading things, either. Mostly, I just knew things. So, yes, I have done my fair share of gossiping. But I have never once gotten to the level of cattiness that I have observed around me in High School and sometimes in college. I've never been responsible for a horrible rumor, I've never tried to make it so someone didn't have any friends, I've never told someone they were ugly/fat/stupid, and I've never enjoyed listening to it either.
I remember in High School, for a short amount of time, I was in a group that would have been considered the more "popular" group. I didn't hang out with them much except in school, but I became pretty good "friends" with one girl, who we will call Kirsten. Kirsten was pretty and funny and we would always laugh so much when we were together. One thing that she would do that made me uncomfortable was say snotty things about people for no reason at all. I didn't care too much, because she was always nice to me, at least I thought so, but I always had a hard time responding. Usually I could come up with a relatively convincing, "Eww!" or "I know!" or "So weird!" But I always felt a little uncomfortable and unsure of what to say.
Another place cattiness was readily apparent was Girls Camp. I loved Girls Camp the first few years I went. In fact, I think I loved it all the way through. It had a mess hall, pool, bathroom, and cabins for us to sleep in. It also had an intense amount of estrogen. Holy cow. No girls should be so secluded from men for such a long period of time. I have never seen so much drama in my life.
There was this one girl, who we will call Allie. Allie and I had been childhood friends. In fact, our families had always been close, ever since we moved to our new ward in Maryland. After we hit probably around 12, we stopped being friends with Allie. We remained really good friends with the rest of the family, and we were still nice to her, but I decided I did not need to deal with her more than absolutely necessary. And this is why: She would say some of the meanest things to me and my sisters, but mostly me. She would tell us we were ugly, no one liked us, and we were dumb. Seriously. It was horrible. I knew all of these things were untrue, but it still hurt my feelings, especially because we had been such good friends, and I didn't know what had happened. I usually just left as quickly as I could whenever she started on one of her snotty streaks.
At girls camp, this exploded. I had a friend who was not so apt to take crap as I was, and we will call her Katie. Katie was one of my best friends from church. She was super nice to me, and everyone who was nice to her, but she stood right up to Allie. I specifically remember hearing them screaming at each other in our YCL cabin, and Allie cussing all over the place. I believe I was in my bed pretending to sleep, but Katie told her exactly how it was and how it was not okay to be so mean for no reason at all. I'm pretty sure Allie stormed off, and told her mom. Later on that day, I believe, her mom (who was a camp leader) came to my dad (who was a Bishop visiting for the day) screaming about the situation. I can actually still hear her voice in my head. "You know what Sid?! (I have had it with this, my daughter is in the Mess Hall crying her eyes out because of Kelly! You have said that my daughter is abusive and mean to your daughter but it is MY daughter who is hurt and it is YOUR daughter who has been abusive to MY daughter!" Her finger pointed at me in a very accusatory way, and she looked almost crazed to me. I was mortified. We weren't the only people around, and I was completely unprepared to respond to someone so angry. Luckily, my dad put his arm around me, and said, "Why don't you go on to testimony meeting?" As I began to run down the hill, I remember hearing him say in this incredibly calm voice, "Now Belinda..." but that's all I heard; I remember bawling all the way down the hill. Luckily, everyone knew at least some of the situation, and no one thought I was at fault, so it turned out fine, and my dad was able to effectively calm her mom down. She never stopped being mean to me, but she did get less extreme, especially as we learned to avoid each other more.
In college, I thought cattiness was basically over. I knew it would never completely end, but it seemed a lot better. That is, until I moved in with some friends I had made my freshman year. I had some misgivings about it from the start, but I brushed them off; they were, after all, my friends, and I was sure everything would be fine. This next girl we will talk about we will call Anne. Anne had some insecurities, which she exhibited through hating other people. At least, that's the only way I can explain her behavior. She and Megan, the other roommate we had moved in with, HATED the new roommate, Sandy. I was the only one who was nice to her. There was really nothing wrong with her. She was always nice to us, they mostly got upset about when she would touch the temperature controls. I never thought the temperature was horrible either way, and I didn't mind paying $5 for the electric bill, but they did. They would talk about it for HOURS. And I don't think they ever really talked to her about it, so I don't know how she was supposed to know. I remember one time, when she was walking by the apartment, Anne called me over laughing hysterically. "Look at Sandy! Oh my gosh she looks pregnant! She's huge!" (Sandy was NOT that big, but since Anne had just lost a lot of weight, she found a lot of enjoyment in making fun of people who were bigger than she was). I probably said something about how that's so mean!! And left, but I feel like that might have been a turning point for her and me. I think it legitimately bothered her that I would not join in with her and Megan in making fun of Sandy or talking bad about her. And it bothered her that I would include her and talk to her like she was a normal person, which she was.
Sandy moved out halfway through the semester, and then Anne turned to hating me. It almost seems to me like she needed someone to hate in order to feel validated. It started small, but it ended up being unbearable for me to be in the same house as she was, so I was almost never home. Everything she said to me was snotty, everything I said she had to contradict. She would throw my shampoo and conditioner on the bathroom floor and out of the shower. One time, I was doing my make up next to her at the vanity, as she was blow drying her hair. She pulled her cord so that all of my make up was knocked to the floor. I looked at her, expecting at least a sorry, but she just smirked and continued blow drying her hair, while I picked everything up. She also spread rumors about me, although I am not sure how far they spread or how many people believed them. I remember this one guy telling me that she had told him that I was a total slut, which, by the way, I am not, and she had nothing to back up any of her statements. I could go on, because the list of the mean things she did to me is kind of ridiculous, but I don't really want to, and I'm sure it wouldn't be that interesting to you.
One time, she and Megan decided to have a talk with me. It started out with them saying something about how they felt that I was being mean, and I snapped. I said that I hadn't done anything to her, and all she did was be mean to me. I said I could deal with her being mean in my apartment, but spreading lies about me was going way too far. She didn't have anything to say back, really, so I went to my room. I could hear her crying to Megan in the background, but for the first time ever, I didn't care that I had hurt someone's feelings. I was so done taking her crap. I got an opportunity to move out, and I took it, so by the next semester I was back in friendly company.
A few months ago, Heather and Dahl and I were with a group of girls, and the cattiness began once again. One girl, Ella, was talking about how her roommate Susie was being completely inconsiderate, and there was no way they would ever be able to be friends. I knew Susie, and although her actions were not okay, I hardly think taking some otter pops that belonged to Ella and hanging out with other people more was reason to be so hateful. The other girls, who didn’t even know Susie, started saying all kinds of horrible things and drawing crazy conclusions. I sat there feeling more and more uncomfortable by the second. Susie had been nothing but sweet to me, and, although we weren’t the best of friends, we were friends, and I liked her. I tried to say something about how I’m sure that once everyone settled in it would be fine, but Ella said that if someone was rude once, they could never be friends. The conversation drifted to another apartment of girls who were planning a group date. Someone said that Samantha, one of the quieter girls, was planning on inviting one of her other girl friends to come along. “Oh no no no!” said Mary, “She is NOT taking over our date!” … What? Do you even know her friend?? I didn’t even know how to react to all of this, so I kept trying to change the subject, and I was relieved when Heather said she needed to finish a paper, and could we please go home? Later, she told me that I had the same look on my face that I got when I was high up (I’m terrified of heights). Snottiness makes me feel sick to my stomach.
The point of all of these experiences is I think cattiness is ugly. It makes girls who could be the best of friends the worst of enemies. It hurts feelings and doesn’t make you look better at all. I’m not saying that talking about people is never merited, but I do think it would be nice if everyone could just calm down off their estrogen high and be kind. That’s all.