Last year, a 36 year old female wrote me an email describing me as pathetic, unstable, desperate, bitter and someone not worthy of being a friend to. In the last week, a 33 year old female sent me an email calling me offensive, self absorbed, shallow and a phony and “not awesome”. When reaching out for friendship from a 35 year old female, I got a screaming voicemail back telling me to get over myself and that no one has the time and when I said that it wasn’t okay, I was told that I was passive aggressive and would be blocked if I apparently reached out again for friendship. During a conversation with a co-worker, I neglected to tell the ages of these people and the response was, “did you hear this from a child?” It made me laugh because the comments did seem like remarks made from an angry or aggressive child and not from grown adults. I have asked many times if we ever leave high school and in the last few weeks, I’ve come to accept that we do not and that this cruelty and random bullying towards others, especially those who simply are reaching out in hopes of having someone listen to them are being seen as attempts of manipulation….are all just becoming parts of life. When I got that screaming voicemail, I began shaking, trembling as tears fell and I was wondering where the miscommunication was. I used to get letters in middle school. This was pre-internet and I would open my beige metal locker to have a neatly folded note fall out onto the ground. I’d open it up to read things like, “toe fungus is better than Meradeaf” or “Meradeaf is ugly and should die” or “no one wants to hear you.” I shook when I got those letters, cried, fed my feelings with chili dogs at Carney’s or Penguin’s Frozen Yogurt. It tore me to to shreds and now, flash forward to thirty three years later and I’m getting them in internet form through emails and voicemails. Why is this cruelty accepted? Especially amongst women. I read an article on Buzzfeed about all the items of clothing women have been banned from wearing this year and it got me thinking, shouldn’t we be building each other up instead of being so quick to tear each other to shreds? Why not tell someone they look good or you liked something they did or said instead of being so quick to name call. To be treated so cruelly by adults is mind-blowing to me. I wonder if the people who sent those emails calling me every name they could throw at me or the person who sent me the angry voicemail knows what they did, I wonder if they know the hurt they caused? I wonder if they are aware of how obsessed I became over them, how I could not stop thinking about them even while belting angry songs in my car. I wonder if they knew how it tore me inside, leaving me to wonder why those remarks needed to be made and what I had done that was so worthy of that hatred? Why cruelty had to be the quick go-to instead of maybe a conversation? I wonder if those people care or know the impact their words had? If they knew would they have said them anyway? Assumptions were made and I find it so strange that those assumptions have become labels and those labels are the deciding factor in deciding why a person is acting the way they are acting. How was this simple act of asking a friend to listen suddenly turned into me being manipulative and aggravating when truly there was no malice involved. We live in a world were there is so much against us as women. We make less, we struggle to make a name for ourselves in the workforce, people comment on what we wear, how we act, whether or not we use birth control. Shouldn’t we be banding together? Shouldn’t we celebrate each other, lift each other up and be kind? I don’t think I could ever take the time to make a vocal recording to send to someone screaming at them for reaching out for friendship? I could never take the time to write a scathing email in the disguise of “constructive” criticism. Is it because I’m too nice? Too weak? No. It’s because of fear. I would never want to be that one who sent someone over the edge, who drove someone to the brink and as we have learned so many times in the past, we never know what goes on in a person’s head. We never know how serious it is or how badly someone just needs a friend. Never assume you truly know someone. So let’s be a little kinder, please. Let’s not tear each other down like middle school children. Let’s take time to investigate, to understand….let’s just take the time. We never know what impact words might have. We never know how they may tear someone apart.