Last night, while browsing through Facebook for my daily news on the people I follow, I saw that someone had linked an article about 5 types of toxic behavior from others one should avoid or remove from one’s life. Out of curiosity, I clicked on the link and the first bullet point of the article was that we ought to leave behind friends who gossip.
A quote said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” It intrigued me and made me think.
When I was in college, I was the victim of peer bullying – not physically but emotionally and mentally. There was a group of girls who banded together to mock, ridicule and gossip about me for 2 years. During that time, I was friends with 2 people out of the class of 25. The two people I knew would stand by me and we would in turn gossip and talk about the group of bullies. This went one until we graduated, at which point, we were civil with the bullies (because of an intervention from one of the Professors), if nothing else.
Eventually, I lost contact with all the bullies and didn’t attend the “reunion” that someone had planned. What was the point of reconnecting with the very people who caused me 2 years of grief and tried to pry me away from the rest of the class? Call me petty but I certainly didn’t see the point. I was, however, still hanging out with the other two friends. I was the first among us to be employed and that became the subject of a lot of our conversations.
I suddenly realized that one of the girls I hung out with was an almost-pathological gossiper. I never realized it before because back when we were in college, gossiping about the “b*tches” (bullies) was the only way for us to get back at them and the only way I could’ve survived. All she would want to talk about is negative things about everyone we knew. At some point, after much griping, she was finally employed. But the bitch fest never ended. She would complain about her coworkers and even her employer.
We would meet to hang out once a week. Every week without fail, we would dine at a somewhat expensive restaurant and just gossip about the target of the week. It was awful. I started realizing how awful we were because since I was no longer being gossiped on by the bullies in college, it became clear to me that we were being toxic about others. It’s one of those things that gives you clarity when you remove yourself from the situation. And I removed myself from that situation. I no longer felt comfortable spending good money on good meals but have the rest of the dinner be marred by toxic words.
Of course, the repercussion of that action was, I became the target of gossip once again because the girls I hung out with were naturally quite angry that I no longer wanted to spend time with them. I found out from the almost-pathological-gossiper’s blog that she had been writing about me all along – even through college when I thought she was on my side. It seemed like she thrived on negative energy and on putting other people down through her words. I was appalled and quite frankly, I was upset.
Now, 7 years since I broke ties with those “friends”, I find myself thinking about them again. I can’t help it. I can’t help but wonder where they are now in life and whether the one girl is still a gossip. I know for a fact that I’m very relieved and happy that I broke from the gossipy duo. I realize now that there is no point comparing your life to another’s because we all have our own demons and our own struggles.
It was petty for me to have gossiped about the people who bullied me because it made me nothing better than a gossip myself. And if the only way I can be happy is if I speak ill of others, then perhaps I don’t deserve to be happy. If the only way one can succeed is by trampling everyone else under their feet, then they don’t deserve success.