Nearly everyone had the unfortunate experience of interacting with or having to deal with mean girls growing up. It's almost a rite of passage. Even if they didn't really bully you or boss you around, chances are you at least knew who they were. And though there are a ton of things that so-called "mean girls" do wrong, of course — bullying isn't OK at any age — there are also some unexpected things "mean girls" are actually doing right (and we can all learn from) that you may have overlooked when in the thick of it in elementary, middle, or high school.
Although some of the skills they use and things that they might be doing right are things that, generally speaking, you might be able to put to work in your own life, it's probably not a good idea to full-on emulate junior high mean girls. "I would not necessarily encourage other girls or women to emulate the behaviors of a 'mean girl,'" Carolyn Robistow, LPC, a licensed professional counselor, tells Romper by email. "While it can be tempting to copy her and use the same tactics to climb the social ladder, the power gained at the top is often more fear-based than confident, and is not sustainable in healthy ways for the long term. It is not unusual for a 'mean girl' to feel isolated and alone because of her awareness that many of the people who are 'close' to her are only there in order to protect themselves and not to provide her with true connections and support."
You're better off using these sorts of skills for good, rather than to rule over those in your life through fear. "[I]f society wanted to encourage more girls to use 'mean girl' skills, the message would need to very clearly and specifically reflect the need for these skills to be used to increase empathy, meaningful connections, healthy boundaries, and relationships where both parties' voices are equally valued in the partnership rather than used to manipulate," Robistow says.
Keeping that in mind when deciding how to interact with people or while counseling the younger girls in your life might help make things better for everyone. "Mean girl" skills aren't necessarily all bad, you just have to be very careful and cognizant of how you're using them — for good, not terror or pain.