Okay, so tonight on my way home from work, I heard a PSA regarding bullying. You know the one. The one about "today in chemistry I learned that I was ugly" and so on a so forth. Now I totally am on board with the whole anti bullying mentality. In fact, I think it's an amazing message to spread world peace and kindness, but where's the other piece of the puzzle? Why in the world has everyone forgotten the most important part? Why in the hell are we letting everyone around us determine our self worth? And more importantly, why are we teaching our kids that it is the world around them's job to be nice? It's almost like we are setting them up for failure, expecting everyone to be their friend, think that they are pretty, and want to sit with them at lunch.
It just seems to me that we are putting all of our efforts into creating a Utopian society where everyone holds hands and sings Carpenter songs while butterflies land on our noses and cheeks, instead of teaching our children how to deal with ignorance in a way that is healthy and conducive.
Instead of preparing them for real life.
Now before everyone jumps on the let's hate Jess bandwagon, hear me out. We've all been bullied to some degree, some have been hurt more than others to the point of physical and emotional scars, and some on the surface, but we all carry some weight of discrimination. Whether it's because of skin color, gender preference, financial status, appearance, what we eat or what we choose to dress our bodies in, we've all felt the static of un-approval, and the ache to fit in.
When I was in the 6th grade I sat next to a boy on the bus who would punch, hit and hurt me to the point of bleeding. Every day I would come home to my parents crying, and every day after long phone conversations with the principal and bus drivers, they would urge me to get as far away from this boy as possible. Well obviously, since this was a bus situation I couldn't get that far away, after alerting the bus driver of my situation, I was safe from the physical harm, but the verbal abuse continued. After many days of this (and more conversations with my parents) I realized that my options were few in the situation. Coming home upset everyday was not only taking a toll on me, but it began to take a toll on my parents. My dad finally sat me down and explained the world to me. He explained that the world was full of all types of people. Some people are great, and they are the ones to find, befriend and share the life moments with. Those are the keepers. Then there are the mediocres. These people are great too, but they live in the middle, never ruffling feathers and never making a scene. They want to be hidden and they want to fly under the radar. Lastly he told me that there are some people who are just plain assholes (my dad wasn't great at censorship) and those people are the ones to watch out for. They usually treat others, the only way that they've been treated their entire life. The assholes tend to be rough, because they've had to be. Usually their lives are pretty tough.
After hearing this, my dad then took me to the bully's house to confront the parent's face to face, and to demand an apology, only to find out that his parent's were separating and that their house wasn't a very happy place at the time. After an exchange of words I finally got the apology I deserved, and the bullying finally stopped. I was lucky to have such caring parents that followed through and and made sure that it ended once and for all. But the most important part of that entire indecent wasn't the apology, or even the confrontation to the boy's parents. It was the lesson I learned about the world in those short weeks.
I learned that there are always going to be assholes, and there are always going to be negative people that thrive on trying to break your spirit. There's always going to be those people who want to see you fail.
Don't let them. Or do. Who the hell cares? It's YOUR life.
We need to stop teaching our kids that it is the job of their peers, their community, their church, the media, or anyone for that matter, to determine their self worth. We need to teach our children how to handle disappointment and rejection in a healthy way, because no human being should ever feel like they aren't worthy of living.
We need to teach our children how to be bullied, and how to walk away and move on. We need to teach our children that the world isn't nice, and that it's naive to believe that everyone will love them. We need to teach them that just because a classmate or a magazine tells them that they aren't pretty, that it doesn't mean that they aren't beautiful. We need to teach them to stand up for themselves, and to have the confidence to know that someone loves them for who THEY are and that those are the people that they need to choose to be in their lives, because everyone else's opinions don't matter.
We need to be better teachers, and we need to be putting together an entire puzzle, not just certain parts. We need to create a world where confidence reigns supreme, and that just because you aren't yet a butterfly, doesn't mean that your time isn't coming. We need to be teaching our kids to treat others with kindness and respect even if the other person doesn't deserve it, and helping them handle the disappointment in a healthy way when they don't get kindness in return. We just need to be better teachers and motivators.
Oh and I also move that we bring back teaching this rhyme.
Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.Because nothing pisses off a bully like not caring... and that my friends is the best way to fight back.
Confidence is the anti-bullying corner piece that our puzzle has been missing. Once you find it, the possibilities are endless.