Over the last few days I have been doing research for today's post. I will admit, I got a little lost in the research. It was sad and difficult to see. October 13th is is "National Stop Bullying Day". When I learned this last month, I knew it was something I wanted to post about. Like most everyone I too have experienced bullies in my life. As a child with a number of visible medical issues I was called every name in the book from "bloody dawn" to "scabby", "ragamuffin" and every form of the word ugly you can imagine. It stopped slightly in junior high, although I am unsure as to why but was picked back up again high school. Puberty plus my need to express myself made me a pretty easy target. I was again called all sorts of names, now mainly target at the disparity between how people saw my face vs. my body. I was called a slut and a whore and every other word we use to demean girls by people I had never even met. In one particular case I was told that i would probably be "an amazing f*ck if only I wore a paper bag over my head". (kids are real clever) Anther time a boy punched me in the chest because he believed I had surgery to "make boys like me" and that "I wasn't fooling anyone".
I don't share these things to elicit sympathy. I say them because it is not an unusual story. It is one we hear time and time again. Lucky for me, I grew up before social media and cell phones. I can only imagine how much worse it may have been.
When someone is bullied it does something to them. Many retreat into their own world, one of depression, lonlieness and isolation. For others they over compensate, work harder to show people they are more than what they see, they work hard to build a tough exterior. What else can they do really? Everything they hear is the same...
"it get's better"
As an adult I know that this is both a truth and a lie.
It doesn't always "get better" at least not in the sense that people suddenly become adults and stop being jerks. I have seen bullying in the workplace that could rival any group of teenage mean girls any day of the week. What changes (often) is how we respond to the bullies.
Headline after headline speaks of the sad and repulsive things people do to each other but there are also stories of people coming out of the wood work to say enough is enough. Rather than spend my time talking about bully's and giving them a platform, I decide instead to talk about the people who are standing up against that.
I know you took the time to read this whole blog and for that I thank you. But don't stop there, watch this video and see how deeply this epidemic goes. Then use your voice to make a difference. For more information on National Bullying Day and information on how to help go to http://www.stopbullying.gov/
so why do we keep allowing this to happen and how can we really make sure that it does get better?
Have you ever had a conversation with someone who admits proudly to being a bully or someone who thinks it is a good thing to do? NO, you don't. Nobody sets out to intentionally be a bully. If we are being honest with ourselves we have all been a bully in our lifetime.
don't believe me?
Have you ever been a bully to someone?
what about yourself?
ahh...bet you didn't answer as quick or emphatically on that last one, did ya?
Research shows a number of reasons that people "bully" many of which surround ideas of
power, insignificance, history, feelings of rejection and just trying to be "seen" or accepted
We live in a world of competition, one that promotes one winner and one loser. We do not promote community winning. It is in part because of this cultural expectation that people choose to "follow the crowd" and compete at times regardless of the cost to other's. If this is the case, it has to start somewhere, right? Like everything else our parents tell us, it starts with us. When was the last time you treated yourself well?
I don't mean, when was the last time you had a massage or a glass of wine (though, it is always great to "treat yo' self".) I mean when was the last time you looked in the mirror and said something nice to yourself with out a tinge of sarcasm attached? When was the last time you recognized and congratulated yourself on a job well done? We are taught to not make a big deal of our achievements or what we have been given but why?
Look, nobody likes a bragger but what about being aware of all the wonderful things we have? What about recognizing the blessings we have been given and showing awareness and gratitude for those? Why shouldn't we do that?
I would argue that if we allowed ourselves the honor of self worth and didn't make it a crime to love the way we look, act or are then maybe we wouldn't need to compete with other people in order to feel good. We should be rewarding feeling good through positivity not negativitry. Yet, negativeity is what we focus on. We read about it, watch it on the news, on crime shows, reality shows about housewives and we promote in our advertising and media.
I don't want to do that.
I want to like who I am. I want to like who other people are. I want to be Jessica...
Look, I don't mean to trivialize the issue of bullying, trust me. But there aren't any answers and it seems impossible that it will go away any time soon with this new digital world we live in. The only thing we can do it find a way to teach our kids their worth BEFORE they go out into the world. I don't know how to do that, I wish that I did. I do know that it requires a few things that we can provide and maybe these things will lead to solutions
positive content (words and imagery)
ears, shoulders and arms to listen, comfort and protect
a voice - nothing ever changes unless we demand it
speak up. speak out. stand up. stand out