Middle School "Enemy" Culture Has Taken Over. Here's How To Stop It.

It was fun while it lasted.

By Jazzi Johnson

Growing up, we’ve all had our fair share of run-ins with gossip, jealousy, heartbreak, and competition. Whether it was the boy who spread a rumor about you, the friend who stabbed you in the back, the ex who publicly embarrassed you to save face, or even the girl who could do everything you could do—just a little bit better. Then, we used to bite our tongues or overreact and keep it moving.

Unfortunately, we've taken those bad habits with us all the way to adulthood.

The mistake we often make in response is to label these people as an enemy, frenemy, hater, a phony, a fake— all the same. We think in black and white, then write people off for slight infractions or perceived differences. In reality, an enemy is a person who is actively opposing your every move, who deliberately harms or weakens someone or something else. If it sounds like a description of a superhero movie, it’s because enemies are primarily fictitious.

Enemies are a cool subject for songs, books, and movies, but don’t bode us too well in our waking lives. Somehow, they've even turned into a motivational tool. How many times have you heard someone celebrating the amount of so-called “haters” they have, claiming it as a sign of success? In reality, you’re only ignoring what could be beneficial criticism.

Here’s a few ways we should be handling enemy situations, instead of flagging them as the beginning to our success story.

In Friendships

With friends, we tend to be the most vulnerable. We’ll tell our secrets, share our last dollar, and cry for hours without second-guessing a minute of it. So when a friendship goes sour, the breakup is always hurtful. But what it doesn’t have to be, is vindictive. 

If you truly cherished the person and the friendship, see what you can do to rekindle it before letting go. Were there things left unsaid? Was there a misunderstanding (usually, that's all it is)? Could it all be fixed with a simple “I’m sorry” or “I made a mistake”? 

And if not, simply let it go. Sometimes friendships come and go for a reason. Learn from it and actively choose to move on. No need to stew or talk smack. 

In The Workplace

The workplace can be a very demanding and competitive atmosphere. That doesn’t mean that everyone is your enemy. We all have something to learn and something to give. 

Why not join forces? How about being friends and becoming untouchable together? Take the opportunity to say “we slay," instead of “I slay”! Can you imagine what mess the Beyhive would be in if they didn’t work together to figure out Beyonce’s next move? We owe them so much.

On Social Media

Taking strangers seriously isn’t always a necessary thing— as we know Twitter trolls are entities to be blocked— but disengaging with someone because they oppose your point of view is not only childish, but detrimental to personal growth. This person isn’t your enemy and most times they aren’t even being haters-- maybe they just really believe Donald Trump is a truth-teller [insert first emoji that comes to mind]. 

A lot of what we experience online today is a constant of voices and opinions and thoughts just aching for escape. You don’t even have to reply to everything you disagree with, or every person who disagrees with you. Take it with a grain of salt.

Sure, it’s cute to fantasize about who your true enemies are in middle school (when you’re mad at Tasha for telling Brandon you had a steamy dream about him), but it’s not so hot when you’re actually a grown ass man or woman despising someone instead of just attempting to talk it out. Save the antics for Joker— he does it better anyway.

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