So, I know lately that this blog has taken a rather unfunny turn. I'll try to fix that soon, I promise. But not today. No, today is a result of a...discussion. We'll call it that. I had a discussion (rather heated, I might add) at work with a coworker. It came up as we were talking about cyberbullying because of this*. Which turned to regular bullying and he said, "It's no big deal. People need to toughen up. I mean, come on, everybody had that one person who picked on them in school."
Being picked on is an annoyance. Like a mosquito. Somebody who might taunt you periodically about your hair. Being picked on is easy to let go. Just have it roll off your back. So much of the advice about bullying is advice on how to handle teasing.
Bullying and being picked on are two entirely different things.
How do I know this? I was teased. Horribly as a kid and through a good part of high school. I could go over lots of scenarios, but I won't because I've covered quite a few here. High school was miserable for me. I know high school was miserable for a lot of people. I don't pretend that mine was the worst experience, because I know it wasn't. I was lucky - I had quite a few friends. I didn't get beat up. I had people to talk to. Most people I work with don't know my entire high school history and, to be perfectly frank, they don't need to. It's not important or necessary for day to day functions. I'm not going to go over the whole thing right now, but I will cover part of it.
Bullying takes a lot of forms. It is constant. It is daily. It's like being in a pressure cooked that never lets up. Of being in a constant boxing ring: You against the bully and your inner critic.
That's what bullies do: they feed your inner critic and beat the smithereens out of your self esteem. They help you see the worst you possible. They make you realize that every flaw (real or imagined) is visible to everyone. They hold up the mirror and say, "See? You really are as hideous and ugly and unlovable as you think you are."
And people say to drown them out. To ignore them. To feel good about yourself. But how can you do that when they've taken away that very foundation from you? They have destroyed that very thing that you should fall back on.
Bullies don't just tease, that's only one weapon in their arsenal. That's how they get to you. It starts small until they find the thing that you are most insecure about and that hurts you the most. And then they make your life miserable. And the smaller you feel and the more you wish you could disappear in the background, the bigger and more visible they become. The more you try to run from them, the harder they chase you down. And you run until you are exhausted and you stop fighting. And you let their words and actions rain down on you and wear you out even more.
And every time you look in the mirror or try to think a positive thought that voice, that horrible inner critic comes screaming out at you: "You are a horrible human being." When your friends or family tell you what you think isn't true you always think, "But you have to say that." This person who was a stranger noticed you and they noticed that. And have driven that point home consistently.
All of you has been chipped away to the core. You are scared. Alone. Empty. Frail. Raw.
That is what being bullied feels like.
*I'm not gonna lie, that video is pretty awful but no 13 year old girl who is not a celebrity deserves to be made to cry and some of those comments are simply awful