The other week I was having coffee with my good friend Alan Cole. We were talking about our school years and it turned out we both had a bit of a knack for being naughty. He often got caught for his outlandish school pranks but everything I did was usually unintentional (like breaking doors and windows) or one off pranks every couple years that were so mental and out there, our teachers themselves enjoyed it!
As we were chatting he said a friend of his once talked about having a ‘Nemesis’ whilst at school.
“I wish I’d had a nemesis.” he said longingly. “It feels so epic!”
“It’s not epic” I said. “It’s awful!”
Well, I didn’t have a ‘Nemesis’ per se but there was someone I went to school with that seemed not to like me very much from the word go and for the next three years I always seemed to be her favourite target. Looking back now, everything she said or did seems insignificant and rather petty because those memories no longer evoke the same feelings anymore but I can remember how it made me feel then. Every day, when I walked through those school gates, knowing she’d be there, I had a knot in my stomach that kept tightening, pulling me in towards it, forcing me to shrink into myself and making me feel 3 feet smaller than everyone else. I shuffled into school as only half of who I was because I couldn’t grow when there was someone constantly cutting me down. On my very first day at that school, I was tripped over in the school hall, books flung out across the floor, pride dented and it was at her hand…well…her foot. Since that day, I felt unnecessarily nervous, small and somewhat inadequate. What was it about me that made someone treat me this way? What was I doing wrong to be made to feel this small? Did I do or say something specific? Was it just me as a person? However, it’s that little sod we call hindsight that allows me to see what was really going on more clearly and it was nothing to do with me. The problem wasn’t mine, it was hers.
Everyone has insecurities. Some are small and easy to ignore on a daily basis, that we only think about when someone else notices them but some are bigger. Some are things we constantly think and worry about, that are in the back of our minds, day in and day out. For instance, one of my biggest insecurities is a physical thing. I have a little lump on my right forearm which is actually a scar from when my friend’s parrot bit me (My life is ridiculous). It scarred because I’m an idiot and I kept picking the scab. It’s been there for about four years now and to be honest, it looks a bit gross! I’ve learnt to live with it but I went through a phase of constantly wearing a plaster over it in case other people saw it and asked. In actual fact, all the plaster did was attract more attention to it and caused everyone to ask why I had a plaster there! I’m over the worst of the insecurity and, for the most part, I’ve accepted that the scar is here to stay but everyone has a thing like that that they always think about whether it’s physical, mental or emotional. Most people deal with it well and often get over them. They work on the thing that bothers them and turn it into an asset, something to be proud of. Or they talk to other people and often discover that they also share the same insecurity which makes them feel less alone.
However, some people deal with their little insecurities by picking on other people’s. In other words, they become bullies. They think by drawing attention to the things someone else hates about themselves, it draws attention away from their own. It’s the equivalent to someone comically pointing to nothing in the distance and shouting “QUICK! LOOK! AN ELEPHANT!” in the hopes that everyone looks at the elephant and ignores whatever it is they’re trying to hide. It’s absolutely nothing to do with the person they’re attacking. They probably don’t mean half the things they say and have more than likely made up the other half! The problem lies with the attacker, not the victim.
The next time a bully picks on you for something you feel insecure about, take comfort in knowing that behind that insult is a swarm of their own insecurities buzzing around their heads that they’re trying to draw your attention away from. Feel sorry for them because they have far more problems than you do. Think about it. At what point do your own insecurities become so overwhelming that you feel the need to start being outwardly, actively mean to the people around you? If only those bullies let those insecurities out and talked about them, they’d probably find that other people share them and it’s not something that they needed to feel insecure about in the first place.
I’m hoping that anyone reading this that is being bullied or is witnessing bullying, can take this information, apply it and share it. It’s not an action you make or something you say. It’s more a way of thinking. A different perspective on a sad situation that makes it a bit brighter and easier to deal with. It’s information that I learned too late so instead of you guys getting 5 years down the line and thinking “Oh! That’s what that was! I wish I knew that then! I wouldn’t have worried so much!’…I’m giving you the power of hindsight when it’s not…hind. Present-sight. Yeah. That’s a thing now. Present-sight. *nods*
So, If you’re being bullied, don’t sweat it. It’s not you, it’s them!