Figuring Myself Out: Overcoming Bullies and Obstacles Alike
I was once told that everyone has been bullied and that it didn't matter what happened at the moment; it is important to look to the future. I did not understand this. I did not understand why I was so different; why what I loved inspired indifference or disgust in others; why I could not care less about celebrities and fashion when every other female in the class was absolutely addicted. I couldn't understand why I preferred to retreat into my own world, why I wove stories in my own mind, why my thoughts raced at 1000 miles an hour. I did not know myself, and thus became a perfect target for those around me.
Let me start by saying this is not a sob story. This is not to inspire pity. What I say here and now is to inspire hope, to say that what we go through shapes us, makes us understand ourselves, and most definitely gives us an iron backbone that will not break wherever we are thrown. This is a story of discovering who I am and helping those around me do the same. Our experiences will define us, but we get to decide exactly how that occurs.
Today, I am a young woman who is able to overcome obstacles with relative ease. I do not crumble under pressure, and though another's opinion does matter to me, I do not let it shape me like one plays with putty. Instead, I let opinions help me fix my mistakes and know when to listen and when to disregard silly comments. I was not always like that. I was the shy little mouse who was too afraid to come out of her shell and explore a classroom unless I was all alone. Now? Let me just say that no one ever calls me shy anymore. Eccentric? Most definitely. Crazy? I would think the person who counters that argument is crazy himself. We cannot live in this world without being a little on the off side, a little eccentric, and a little out-of-this-world.
How did I come to this conclusion? I experimented. Here is the thing. I have never been good at figuring out what to do in particular situations, but really good at mimicking. Over time I learned to close my mouth and open my eyes and ears. Over time I learned to pick and choose role models after whom I would mould my own behavior. I have cried more often than not, trying to perfect it all. If I were to say that my current self is anywhere near perfection, I'd grow a nose as long as 10 of Pinocchio's. I am not perfect. I make mistakes every single day, say things I should not, act in a way that inspires the wrong emotions, etc. I do, however, know that I do much better than I used to. I am confident in myself. Probably because I have had both qualitative and quantitative experimentation ongoing for many years now.
What does it mean to experiment? I throw myself into new circles to meet new people. I try new words and new actions, getting closer here and becoming more frigid there. I gauge reactions. Here there are no previously formed opinions or stereotypes. No one knows I was once bullied or for what reason. If I choose to disclose that information, it's my prerogative. For the most part, I do not. From time to time, I do for the shock factor. The best thing I did? Changed country, changed most of my friends, and started a new slate. This is how I realized my own worth. I still struggle every day with my insecurities, when the bullied little girl with her battered and bruised psychology emerges when least expected. I still experiment, trying out different behaviors with different people until it makes sense and I find the right buttons to press.
Having been bullied for most of my school years, I know for a fact that the pain I felt then has only made me into a better person. I can empathize now, instead of only sympathizing. I fight to protect those in a situation similar to mine. I befriend those who are different and think themselves unworthy of love or praise, as I used to. We all deserve the best life has to offer and should sprint after it. After all, if the girl with the small kneecaps who falls on her face if she tries to run can catch happiness, I believe all those around us can as well.
Final piece of advice? Smile and laugh. Honestly, you would be surprised at the difference you see in yourself the moment you decide that you will never cry again. Mind you, when you actually manage to shut down that part of yourself, it could scare the living lights out of you. Not being able to cry at sad events, funerals, sad movies, et al., saddened me even more until I figured out how to control it. Yet the moment you decide you will no longer allow yourself to be sad, you feel a little stronger, your back is a little straighter, your chin a little higher, and your mood has lifted immensely. So laugh when you feel like crying, smile when you feel like frowning, and after pretending that everything is fine for long enough you will start to believe it with all your heart. Trust me, life after that is simpler, happier, and there is very little that you cannot conquer with sheer will.