"Then, don't." That was the message, and one I had apparently not given much thought to.
We expect girls in high school to act like girls in high school. Catty, obnoxious, constantly mean to each other. We're just figuring life out then. We're figuring out how we fit, how to interact with others in a mature manner. We screw up a lot. So girls in high school... well, they're wretchedly awful to each other, but we've come to expect it because... it's high school.
But, we kind of expect that, once we're out of high school, women in "older than high school" will act like... adults. A lot of the time, we don't. We're older. But we're still battling with cattiness and jealousies and general angst, and it often manifests itself in very-highschool-ish tendencies.
I found myself in the midst of something like that a while ago. I was trying to heal from one thing, but found myself contantly in the midst of this female "Lord of the Flies" sort of atmophere. Honestly, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. Here I was, desperately seeking healing, being constantly "forced" to participate in this idiotic game.
One day, I was having a silent complain-y session with myself over it, railing about how much I hated playing "the game."
A voice in my head, one I deliberately keep tied and gagged in a back closet of my head because she's a total pain, spoke up and said, "Then, don't. I hate to be obvious here. But, if you hate it so much, why don't you just stop playing it? "
I had no response. I started to protest and explain how I had to keep playing it. But... it just wasn't true. I didn't. And the more I listened to that annoying voice, the more I realized it was right. And for once, I paid attention and acted in accordance. I stopped playing the game. Instead of going for "winning," I just started going for "kind."
In retrospect, it seems like a painfully easy and obvious answer. I often wonder why I didn't consider it more seriously before, why it took me so long to see that "kind" will always be better than "on top." It's a choice that I have yet to regret. But, I can be honest and say that it's also a choice that I have to be continually conscious about re-making. It's easy to slide back into the habits of the past. They're known and comfortable. But, I like "me" a lot better when I'm deliberate about who I want to be.