Whether you realize it or not, your group of friends has unwritten roles (‘labels”) and rules for being in “the group.” When you understand the unwritten “roles” and “rules” of your group, you can decide whether or not you are giving up who you really are inside to be part of the group. There is a good chance that the roles and rules of your group are promoting competition between friends, rather than support between friends if:
- you feel challenged by “girl drama,”
- you often do things you don’t want to do
- or if you feel lonely.
Be honest. Do the rules of your group judge you and others based upon what you wear, how you look, whether or not you have a boyfriend, or how much money you have to spend? Do the rules of your group support negative behaviors like foul language, drinking, experimenting with sex, shoplifting, rebelliousness to parents and law enforcement…or worse? Do the norms of your group encourage you to resist gossip, to find ways to help others in need, to read good books, to safely share your up’s and downs? The more you understand about groups, the more you can find or create a group that really works for you.
Dr. Joy Miller PhD., LCPC, Joy Miller & Associates, Private Practice, identified the following labels for the roles girls play in groups. As you read the following list, ask yourself, “Which of these roles am I playing in my group of friends?” “Do I like the role I am playing?” “How can I change that role if it is causing me distress or going against my conscience?”
- The Queen Bee: I am the person who leads the pack. My way of feeling important is to make sure that I stay the leader, even if it means that I have to criticize or exclude others to do it. I need to make sure no one gets away with criticizing me or discovering that I am actually pretty insecure on the inside. I’ve had my own share of bullying and I’m going to make sure no one takes me down again.
- The Sidekick: I am the best friend of the Queen Bee. My confidence comes from the fact that I’m a loyal insider, even if it means that I ignore how she criticizes or excludes other girls. In fact, I criticize other girls too, in order to show the Queen Bee what a good friend I am. I would like to be a leader, but don’t have the confidence to challenge the Queen Bee. Being her sidekick keeps me safe from being bullied by others and that’s all I care about.
- The Floater: I typically move from group to group and don’t stick with one group. The reason I can do this is that I have learned how to get along with all types of people. Sometimes I get stressed because I worry that a particular group will decide they don’t like me anymore, but mostly, I have figured out how to be nice to everyone without getting caught up in group dramas. My humor and brains help me out a lot.
- The Banker: I am the person who holds the “secrets” of the girls in the group. These “secrets” are like “currency” which I use to maintain my status in the group. I am good at getting friends to trust me with their confidences, but I’m not good at keeping confidences, especially if I think that sharing a piece of damaging gossip will keep me at the top of the group with the Queen Bee. I’ve gotten pretty good at little “white lies” to convince friends that I am loyal.
- The Torn Bystander: I know there are some really mean things happening in my group of friends, but I don’t want to risk my place in the group to take a stand. I feel bad for girls who get targeted by the Queen Bee and other group insiders. I find myself caught in the middle alot, making excuses for things I know are mean. But what I am supposed to do? I would die if a bunch of rumors got spread around about me and I didn’t have any friends.
- The Wannabee: I “wannabee” part of the group, but I am not really one of the accepted members. Sometimes I pick on girls who are being targeted by the group leaders to show that I am loyal, but I don’t know if they like me for sure or not. I am constantly thinking about what I can do to fit in.
- The Target: I feel completely isolated and helpless. My life is miserable because of the constant humiliation I experience from mean girls. Why do I find myself in these situations? What’s wrong with me? I don’t know why I can’t stick up for myself better. Sometimes I just wish I could die. I want a true friend more than anything in the world.
3 Foolproof Ways to Change your “Label” and Deal with Peer Pressure
- Resist making popularity your main goal. It’s a dead end competition that will constantly leave you feeling insecure. Find groups that are based upon shared interests, not popularity. Maybe the labels you are putting on others are keeping you stuck in the competition roller coaster. If you like music, why not join in with the “band geeks” and discover some real fun? Why not start hanging out in the library with the “brainiacs” who love books? Find out who shares your interests and make an effort to be their friend. They are looking for safety from “mean girls” too. Yes, your current group will criticize you for leaving the group, but they will get over it. Remember that is their job, to keep the group going at all costs. Start living your life based upon interests and talent, not status!
- Do not bully, criticize others, or spread rumors to feel important. Can you be The Floater who learns helps others to feel safe? Listening to your inner voice will help you to do this. Rely more upon God as a source of love and support. Get help from a trusted adult.
- Fill your life with interests that help you avoid girl drama. There is so much to learn and in this world! Pick a topic and become an expert. Develop a talent. Do some volunteer work.
Remember, Healthy Transitions for Girls can help!! In Healthy Transitions for Girls groups we help girls learn to set boundaries, learn coping skills, and build supportive friendships.