It seems everyone is on board when the bullying is severe and crosses racial,spiritual, gender identity, or orientation lines. Then everyone is up in arms. But what about the more subtle forms of bullyin that go on everyday in schools across the USA? I’m not saying that everyone has to like everyone; life isn’t fair and there are people that simply will not get along with each other no matter what. But why do people feel the need to lash out at someone they don’t like or understand? Why not be polite and move on about your day? What does tearing another human being down truly benefit you?
As my 30th high school reunion approaches, I sit and remember my junior and senior high school days. (Yes I am that old that middle schools weren’t around.) Some of my memories are good. There aren’t many of them, but there were few. Mostly it was a blur of classes and such that I’d just as soon forget. Then there are the ones that make me cringe. Lookin back I can’t believe I was gulliable enough or that desperate for friends I guess that I would let those things happen to me. I’ll share one to give you an idea of what I mean.
In midle school our band had marched in a parade and we were permitted to stay and play in this carnival the town had set up, but only for a little while. They were playing rock music and I had heard Def Leppard for the first time. The song was Photograph and I loved it the moment I heard it. There was this game set up where if you popped a balloon you wona t-shirt. I spent all of the cash I had on me to win a Def Leppard shirt, but couldn’t pop a balloon. The guy running the stand must have had pity on me because h told me to close my eyes and try one more time. To my surprise I had won! (I realize now he’d popped the balloon) So I ranback to the band bus clutching my t-shirt and very happy.
Well when I get on the bus, this group of girls that were the popular ones in school were sitting ahead of me and saw my shirt. They proceeded to ridicule me that I didn’t know their music and that I didn’t deserve the t-shirt and that I needed to trade with the one girl that had gotten the same shirt but hers was damaged. By the end of it they had me feeling so bad I traded shirts.
Should I have done that? No, but when you’re shy and feel like no one likes you and you would do anything to fit in, you’re not exactly thinking clearly. The thing is though I wasn’t the one at fault, those three girls were. They smelled my insecurities like so much fresh blood in the water and went in for the kill.
I survived the encounter but it left scars that only I could see.
Today there are a lot of kids dealing with the same scars, and to add to it may be dealing with something else that sets them apart from their classmates. It could be a different belief system, problems at home, or blossoming feelings that still don’t fit the so called norms of society. Their answer to end all of the confusion, pain, and hurt is to simply check out from life itself. That is sadly a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
I managed to see a light at the end of the tunnel after the chaos of high school and dealing with similar problems and choosing wrong ways in which to handle them. I was lucky to have a few English teachers who saw my budding talent as a writer and simply refused to let me give up on myself.
Maybe that is the solution to this: be that person who sees the good in someone else and refuse to let that person give up on themselves.
Think you can do it? I know I can!