*This post isn’t about writing per say. It is however about a writer, her take on life, and the bully syndrome.
“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
A friend (Christina Lee) asked me, “If I had the chance to go back and change one thing in my life, would I and what would it be?”
My first instinct was to say nothing; I would change nothing as we are the sum of our experiences. It’s the same answer I’ve always given. You need to understand, I like who I am right now, at this time in my life. However, when I sat down and contemplated the question over and removed my immediate response, the answer changed.
I grew up with a hearing disability and a mother who insisted by any means possible I would be treated normal and participate in a public school environment – versus a deaf school. Some of you may be cheering in the background and saying, ‘yes – way to go and good for her’. What you don’t see is the hours I’m taken out of class for speech therapy during school hours (alienating me). What you don’t see is the ruthless bullies that flick my hearing aide making it squeal painfully in my ear. No one sees the bullies…ever. The kids who sneer and say, “What?” as if it’s a joke; I learned early on not to give that response when I couldn’t hear ‘what’ someone said.
Excluded, invisible, a joke, freak, afraid of something I couldn’t change (me), ritualistic days of torture…
Following my mother’s example all I ever wanted to be was normal, just like everyone else. So naturally I strived not to stand out in the crowd and become any more noticeable than necessary. The thing is: I wasn’t ‘normal’. I had a disability. There isn’t anything wrong with being different, unique, or having an atypical viewpoint in which you look at life. Today, I realize those kids were insecure, confused human beings afraid of diversity or anything which didn’t fit their boxed perception of life. Cowards whose reaction to fear is brutality.
Diverse means you don’t fit a certain idea of normalcy. The bully mentality doesn’t know how to react to you, because ‘you’ are outside of the box – a four squared boring space, they grew up in – you’re different. In short they’re stumped in a very narrow minded space, a space you’re existence challenges.
My bullies and all the naysayers that claimed I would never be anything, made me who I am today…and I wish I could have shared this lesson with those kids who committed suicide. Eventually, you get a thicker skin and new eyes to witness how pathetic these people truly are. Space is existential, consisting of time and place. Every one of us shares their space with strangers at any given moment. No one should be required to beg, plead, or change to fit in someone’s space, click, or group dynamics. No one has the power to demand that of you, nor should they.
These days I still come across the bullies all grown up - One of those narrow minded individuals who can’t comprehend how a deaf woman can speak eloquently, or carry on a conversation with them because she reads lips. I worked away my childhood to fit into their world. Today, I’m so damn comfortable in my skin and thrilled I don’t ‘have’ to share my space with these diminutive individuals.
So what would I change about myself? I’d learn to become comfortable in my skin sooner and learn to let the bullies co-exist, lumped in a separate world (narrow like their mindset). A world I would grow out of and learn to expand my wings. I wish I knew then, to be proud of me, in all my unique differences.
What advice would I give the bullied me: Don’t let anyone clip your wings; the heights you will soar are beyond anything you ever imagined.
Picture from here