Culture

7 Lessons I Learned from Growing Up as the Bad Girl

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Alexa Tanney
Written by Alexa Tanney

No matter where you’re from, where you live or who you grow up with, people always love to give out labels.

You know, the jock, the beauty queen, the nerd. 

I grew up in a small, suburban neighborhood, but I lived in Queens, New York. The most diverse place in all of America.

You would think living in such a varied environment, there would be more acceptance and tolerance of those who were different.

Growing up, I was labeled the “bad girl,” in the neighborhood. People loved to talk about me. Kids, parents, you name it, they knew it. Loved to get in my business, crate rumors, it’s like being in Mean Girls… but on crack.

Was it because I was ridiculously over-developed for my age? Maybe because I matured a little faster than most of my peers? Was it because I vibed better with adults rather than kids my own age? Maybe because I experimented earlier than my friends?

Whatever it may be, I was definitely given the title of girl with a bad reputation.

Did this make me a bad girl? According to the parents, most definitely.

But, if anything, being the “bad girl” definitely gave me a leg up in life.

I learned a lot of things from being the bad girl of the ‘hood, stuff that would teach me valuable life lessons earlier on that I could use for the future. 

1) Never listen to rumors.

Most of the time people spread them because they’re jealous or don’t understand your vibes. They want to bring you down in any way they can. Even if that means the rumors are super farfetched, like you moved across state and back because you were a drug dealer. Don’t listen to them, don’t believe them, let it go and keep it moving.

2) Age is just a number.

When parents are jumping on the drama bandwagon, you realize that no matter how old or young you are, maturity comes sparingly to some. When a 50-year-old mother is busy writing negative things about you on Facebook, you can do nothing else than laugh and roll your eyes. Often times, you may vibe better with people who are way older than you, and that’s completely okay. There’s no laws that say you’re only allowed to be friends with people your own age.

3) Success brings lots of haters.

Some people will hate to see you happy and succeed. When you do, they’ll find any way to bring you down or tarnish your reputation. It’s become increasingly difficult to turn off the negativity with social media constantly in our faces. The best thing to do is rise above it and keep moving up in your world. If you have some haters, you must be doing something right.

4) You are your own best friend.

You’ll go throughout life looking for someone to rely on, to lean on and to help you when things get rough. When you’re labeled the “bad girl,” no body wants to associate themselves with you and your controversy. Growing up, I was my own best friend. It’s prepared me for the chaos that is adulthood and life. I don’t rely on anyone and I stand up for myself, by myself. It’s made me a stronger person, given me a backbone made of steel and the confidence to know who I am. 

5) Trusting your intuition is important.

If something feels off, it’s off. If people feel fake, they’re fake. It took me a while to learn what is and isn’t genuine. People, feelings, relationships. It’s important to learn the difference between someone who is a blessing and a lesson. The only way you’ll ever learn is by trusting your gut. Your intuition is everything, and will steer you in the right direction.

6) Hard work pays off.

When you grow up with a bad reputation, you have to work twice as hard to defy the odds. Mostly, it’s because I enjoy working more than anything. Getting things for myself by myself makes everything that much better. But, when you’re a “bad girl” you develop a strong independence. You’re so often left in your solidarity, that you don’t piss away your free time. No, instead you use it to fuel your fire within you, which ultimately, leads you to success.

7) F*ck what anyone thinks.

People will always judge you, so why are you going to let anything they say get to you? Being the bad girl, you grow thick skin and stop caring what everyone has to say about you and your choices. Ultimately, it pays off in the end because you go through life doing what makes you happy and what’s best for yourself. You ignore anyone who stands in your way and succeed despite everyone’s depictions of your failure.

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