I have been thinking quite a bit about my schooling and school years lately. Coming out, being transgender, and finally accepting who I am gives me a new closure on my school years. From 6th grade through high school, I had a rough life socially. I was never able to appreciate some of the things I gained from those days. One of the things I realized the other day is that I am glad I was the bullied instead of the bully. There are a great many reasons why, however, I think the most important is I do not regret any of the actions that I took or words that I said. I also learned a great deal about people. Bullies are attacking the target’s self-esteem and confidence. Many of the social interactions of high school persist into adulthood and into the work place. There are always bullies. I feel like some of the things I learned about human interaction while being bullied are helpful even through to today.
Various classmates bullied me for being girly, weak, passive, and similar things. At first, I was a very sensitive child and these comments would hurt me deeply. I would feel sad and depressed. Sometimes I would cry. Of course, every time I did… The bullying got worse. The bulling persisted on these topics starting in 6th grade and to an extent continued until the end of High School. The more I reacted, the more the bullying happened. However, I never did fight back. It is possible that they were searching just for a fight the whole time. A few physical fights did occur, but they were always one-sided. I never defended myself because I felt the things they said were true. I was girly. I was overemotional. I threw like a girl, not in a bad way, physically my motions while throwing and doing other things were feminine. They used those facts to say things about me in a negative way. Then perceptions changed and the other boys laughed at me. I became a joke. However, at no point in my history did a bully ever lie. All the things they said were true, just said in a negative way.
I thought about relaying specific stories from my bullying but I am not sure if I can. I noticed over time that the less I reacted, the less people made fun of me. I noticed over time the less feminine I was, the less people made fun of me. I noticed the less physical activity I did, the less people made fun of me. Therefore, in avoidance of pain I changed my life. I stopped playing sports, I stopped running (which I quite liked to do) I did as little as I could in gym class. I tried to hide anything about me that anyone could consider feminine. Over time, the bullying went down. I began to live a life that I did not enjoy, but at least nobody made fun of me for it or if people did, it was so infrequent it no longer really played an active role in my life.
I learned to keep my head down and not say things that I really thought or felt. At the same time, I learned a great deal about bullies. I observed my bullies and others bullying other people. I noticed that even within bullies there were groups of people who bullied other bullies… I started classifying and figuring out why bullies do what they do. When I was younger, the adults told me that bullies did what they did because they themselves were insecure about something. Adults told me that bullies were just loaners seeking attention. Adults seemed to make me want to feel sorry for the bullies. Adults wanted me to feel that bullies were pitiful people and I was better because of that. For some bullies, that is true, however, not for most. The bullies that deserved my pity were the ones that also had bullies of their own. The others are people who are naturally aggressive and draw their value by being the ‘king’ of the group. There exist games for children that promote this idea, king of the hill being the first one that jumps to my head. Bullying causes a great deal of pain, to a great deal of people. It plagued me for many years; it was the forefront of my thinking and actions. I did everything I could just to avoid my bullies. I just wanted to leave in peace.
How do we solve bullying? We cannot. At this point there are two ways that we are trying to ‘stop bullying’ One idea is to give the people who are being bullied more confidence the other is to make bullies feel bad about their actions. I want to talk about the second one first. To me making bullies feel bad about their own actions is akin to bullying bullies. The problem is society itself not only endorses bullying but also practices it. Take this quote directed at bullies…
This quote rings incredibly hollow in this society. Imagine this: you want a promotion at work; there are six people up for it. You can go to your boss and tell them positive things until you are blue in the face… You still will not get it. However, if you know your boss well enough and know what they like if you say the one right negative thing about the other five people…. The promotion is yours. This is in the world of adults. Talking down about each other to raise yourself up not only happens all the time… it works. What does that say about bullies? If you pull down people enough while keeping yourself out of the dirt you absolutely will end up on top in this society. Politics is a great example of how bullying works in a way that is endorsed and practiced by society.
The other attempt to solve bulling is to reinforce the self-esteem of the bullied with quotes like this… I cannot tell you how many times I heard this…
Every time I heard that, I cringed. I wanted to hate those that said those things. I wanted to yell harder. That is not saying something positive about me. That is something negative about my bully. My parent, or teacher, or mentor, has now bullied my bully for me. That is not what I wanted. At the same time, my parent yelled at me for getting a bad grade, or my teacher gave me that bad grade to begin with (even if I deserved it) further reinforcing my weak self-esteem. In my life, there were many bullies. I saw many things as attacks, even if they were not. Even if someone acted out of love, it felt like an attack to me. I had no chance.
How do we stop bullying? Realize it is not just in schools. It is in all of life. People attack the self-esteem of other every day. The minute you have said something negative about an action, a thought, or a motivation of someone else you are potentially a bully. If the other person accepts it as constructive criticism then you are okay. However, they are only likely to do that if they already have self-esteem and self-confidence. For me, I never built it. Everything was a stab at my chest; everything was an attack at my throat. I could have no confidence in myself until recently.
How do we help the bullied? Stop bullying others. I saw adults around me talking negatively about other adults. I saw that as proof that bullying would continue the rest of my life. Which made me wonder, “Why bother?” Therefore, I shut down. Instead of asking, I hopped on the train and negativity became a driving force of my life. I stayed in silence about the problem. I made myself to be whatever I needed to be to move on. I was bullied into silence.
As I began to accept what I had become, I saw that even as I grew up bulling was effective in getting things done… However, it had a different name now. Some people used bullying to motivate people to do work. Some people had continued attacking others yet it was not bullying and others were accepting it as “criticism” because they were secure in themselves. I became more secure in myself. I reached out and tried to take down a part of the wall bulling had created, something negative would be said and I would collapse again… I had built a fence, I did not know why at the time but every time I tried to let it go something would be said that would take me right back to those days. Now, in retrospect I know why I was extra sensitive to comments about being girly… An example I was out shopping for glasses with my mom. A set of frames I really liked I took to my mom… She said, “Aren’t those a little feminine?” I immediately changed frames and got ones I like much less, they are the glasses I have now. I felt like crying that day. I had tried to take down the fence… but learned a valuable lesson.
Now, I know why the fence is up. It is going away in sections. I am still very sensitive to comments about the things I try out, and the experiments I make. However, I have to realize it is not a reminder of the bullies of my past. I have to detach that in my mind but every time someone says something negative, it creates a flash back. I have to be self-confident and have self-esteem. It is, honestly, by divine grace and the will of those around me, and the actions of good people that I am still alive. It is amazing that I have found the things I need to find to make me happy. I need to build my self-esteem and take self-confidence. I need to relax and realize people are not attacking me; they are just trying to help. I need to calm and realize there is an amazing grace in my life and world.
(The video is unimportant just pictures from the anime where this particular version of the song comes from, this happens to be my favorite version)
I learned a lot from the bullies in my life. I have learned how to conceal myself if needed. I have learned how to see if someone was being mean just to be mean or if the bully actually meant what he or she said. Most importantly, I have learned some of the things I never want to do in my life. I feel like I have learned much more in my life that if I were a bully. In addition, I feel that if I were a bully during those same years I would be now living with regret and depression. Regret of saying and doing the things I did and making people feel the way they felt. I would be depressed that I was that kind of person. I would be going the wrong direction.
To change that would mean changing all of society. No matter who you are, you can be a bully if the person you are speaking to takes your comment in that way. Society encourages attacking and talking down to people. It requires such a massive change, and people’s feelings are so fragile. I hate to end a post feeling on a bad/sad note. I just felt like all of this needed to be said. In addition, I wanted to emphasize if I had to choose one sitting here today I am glad I was bullied, and not the bully. That is not a sentiment I share with the person I was many years ago.
Do I want bullying to end? Yes, I never want anyone to go through the feelings I went though. Do I ever think it will? Maybe, I can see a day where bulling is gone but it requires change in adults. We are the role models for the younger generation. Those in your household hear everything you say. If you cast judgment, they will know. If you speak negatively of others, it will be acceptable. There is nothing futile, but some things are a great deal of work. We can only fight it if we realize that bullying exists everywhere not just in schools. The difference between bullying and constructive criticism is in the eyes of the person receiving the comment. As of right now, I am okay with being bullied. It, in the end, made me stronger. However, there were some times where it made me weaker.
At this point, I give you a song with French vocals written by a Japanese Person. It is from the same anime that that version of Amazing Grace is. Name of the anime is Sound of the Sky or So-Ra-No-Wo-To. I feel that it exemplifies how I feel about bullying and in many way my life and my emotions right now. I have a personal responsibility to remember that I am part of the society that I am wishing to change… In addition, even if there are things in society I do not like, they may be essential to it functioning. I will change and effect all that I can, but in the end, I will accept things I cannot change. There are English subtitles near the top; the “video” is just an image. Finding an American or English song that expressed this same sentiment, I found difficult at best…