I am obsessed with the concept of revenge.
Not the type of revenge you see in westerns, where someone ends up injured or killed for their actions, or the “Mean Girls” idea of revenge, where Regina George exposes Cady Heron to their entire school for all the mean things she said. I’m obsessed with a different kind of revenge, and this kind is a lot more fun.
In her 2016 hit “Formation,” Beyoncé sang, “Always stay gracious/best revenge is your paper.” She meant that it is better to be gracious then catty, and that revenge is better when you become more successful than those who hurt you. For the past three years, this has been my life motto, because this type of revenge is always better than the kind where someone ends up hurt or embarrassed.
This type of revenge is amazing because as you thrive and live your best life, you get to watch those who hurt you stay the same raggedy people who are ugly inside and out. You never have to lift a finger to be petty. Rather, you get to watch as karma does its thing. It’s knowing that you’re doing great, and they cannot stand it.
Allow me to offer an example of how I have tried to practice this kind of revenge in my own life.
A few days before my senior prom, I had an embarrassing interaction with one of the faculty members at my high school (I am not going to say their name or position because I know they keep tabs on former students). This person came up to me and said that I was “looking a little thin.” They expressed their concern for my appearance and started asking questions about my workout habits and diet.
The truth was that I had lost a significant amount of weight, but not from starvation. I was keeping a consistent workout schedule, had gone vegetarian and was eating healthier than before. But when I tried to explain myself, they did not believe me and advised me to stop or control what I was doing — which is what made their comments so hurtful and embarrassing. They were expressing concern over an appearance that I felt confident about.
So, here’s how I got revenge. That night I had to go pick up my tux for prom, and I knew that they would be one of the chaperones. As I was getting fitted in my navy-blue Calvin Klein tux, I asked the tailor to tighten it as much as possible and replaced the blue vest I was going to wear with suspenders and a bow tie.
When I walked into prom the following Saturday night, I felt confident as hell. Some of their colleagues even complimented my look. I even caught the person I had a crush on at the time checking me out. I know this particular faculty member noticed me, and they did not need to say anything, because I got my very subtle revenge through looking my best. I felt good about myself, and I did not need their approval.
To this day, I always advise my friends to ignore those who hurt them because revenge is so much sweeter when they just live their best lives. Instead of writing a mean text to the guy who treated you like crap last year, or flipping out at the girl who slut-shamed you, just ignore them because they are not worth your breath.
Put on a cute outfit, hit the town with your best friends and make them jealous because they are probably sitting at home anyway. Live your life, get good grades, acquire lots of money and succeed in spite of them. Because when you get where you’re going, it will be because of the people who loved and supported you through thick and thin.
We as a culture are too obsessed with the “Mean Girls” kind of revenge, because in the age of Twitter clapbacks, we glorify being petty as it gives us more immediate satisfaction. But while that petty clapback may be funny on Twitter and make you feel good in the moment, in the long run you just look like you’re stooping down to their level.
We need to stop responding to these people’s hurtful comments, because all we are doing is giving them the satisfaction that their words and actions bothered us and got under our skin. We have to focus on bettering ourselves and becoming kinder and more successful people.
In the moment, it might not feel like the best option. But when you’re scrolling through Instagram one day and you find a picture of them looking bad and still making mean remarks, you will get the satisfaction that you did indeed win.