I was talking to my theorist about an event in my life that I like to ignore. I was bullied. The reason I tend to ignore it because it was a scary point in my life. I lost a lot of self-confidence at the time because of it. And no matter how much I grew when I think about it, I feel like that sacred and week 7 or 8 year old.
I was pretty shy as a kid. On top of that it felt like nothing I did was right. Rather it was reading, writing, talking and evening walking. While others were dancing gracefully through life I felt like I was always walking around broken glass!
I was bullied a lot as a little kid. The first was on my neighborhood. It was a typical suburbia neighborhood where the kids on the street played with one and another. During this summer a new family moved it. The family had two older boys, both in their teens. I was one of the youngest on the neighborhood. The eldest of the boys and his friends picked on me. It was sort of like they saw how much trouble I had walking around the broken glass that they decided to add more around it. They made fun of the way I talked. Constantly. At this point I was talking but I was seeing many speech theorist to help. They also picked on me for the normal reasons that I was younger than them and stuff like that. I felt powerless and unable to advocate for myself. I wanted to tell my parents about what they were doing but I was afraid of what the kids would do to me! I felt weak and unable to ask for help. And instead of fighting back and just took the bullying until the summer was over. Maybe the school year would be better I thought?
And it wasn’t. Instead of being bullied of my lack of social skills and such I was bullied because of my inability to read, write and do math. The moment that sticks out the most for me is during lunch one day in 2nd grade. I was eating with some classmates, who were the lowest in reading and such. And the more popular and smart kids sat down next to us and starting asking us to do math problems. Now I know what you are thinking, Math Problems? But it did not feel like math problems, it felt like I was being interrogated like I was a criminal in Law and Order.
They would ask us one after another. What is 0 x 5 or what is 15-6 etc. And this continued until lunch was over. They knew our weak points on our suit armor and they exposed it one a good laugh for them, while we were left picking up the pieces.
After this Year of Bullying I moved to another school and that older kid on the neighborhood (prob in jail right now) left to do more teenage things.
As a victim of bullying I have a big problem with it. I hate this position that people sometimes take on bullying
“Being bullied makes you stronger”
The reason I hate this position is that the person is supporting bullying! Saying that because of bullying I am a better person? What the hell are they talking about? I became a stronger person for a lot of reason that was not involved with me being bullying. What bullying has done is make it a low moment in my life. That no matter when I think of it, I feel like that scared 8 year old Matt that just was wishing for it to be over. And that it took me over 10 years to start to talk about.
What really made be stronger was having the support of others. From my parents, teachers and nicer classmates and friends, I grew stronger and developed advocacy skills for myself and others. I didn’t grow because I was picked on but when I was accepted and supported by people.
A couple of weeks ago I was asked by my elementary school to speak as an Hero to the students. All the students had a LD/ADHD like me. I went and told my LD story and all the cool things I was doing right now. One of the questions I got asked about a lot from the students was about bullying. Some of them shared incidents of being bullied in their other schools or by their friends for being different. I told them that I was bullied as well as a kid but was questioning on why they were bullied at this school:
“I am not sure why people are bullied at, Stratford Friends School. What is the bullying like, you have a problem with reading. Well everyone here has a problem with reading in here so why make “fun” of it.”
And I think that got to some of the students and teachers because there was a laugher of realization. The reason I know this is that some of the teachers afterward thanking me for giving the students that perspective because bullying has been a big problem lately. And sometimes the students don’t realize that everyone is working on their reading, math and/or social skills.
There is no real solution to bullying. But I have some thoughts on what we can do it to lower it. The first this that I think we need to be more supportive and aware when people are bullied. I know when I was bullied I felt alone and without any help from people to stop it. If we see it we should help the people being bullied and hey that might mean we lose some “friends” in the process but they are not worth worrying about. Because if they live for making others miserable, then they will slowly lose more people than they will realize. Another thought is that we should change what it means to be different. For the longest time, different is a bad connotation. Something out of he realm of normalcy. I have said this several times on this blog but different and different thinkers are good. They have expand how we see and interact with the world. We should embrace them because frankly they make our world a better place. And I know that might be asking a lot of little kids to do but we should be models of how they can be done so they can do on neighborhoods, playgrounds and classrooms across the world.
Until next time,