The words you speak become the house you live in
I did some mean things when I was young and now is the time to confess to it. Not to make me feel better about myself and rid me of pestering guilt but because it might help you figure things out way sooner than I ever did. Guilt and regret bring you nothing but stomach aches so the sooner you realize that being a bitch is not the way to go, the better you will feel about yourself and your life. I promise. But let me first tell you a few things about the time I was a wretched little shrew .
I was a bully. Not the head bully but I was a member of the bully squad. I never enjoyed much of it but didn’t do a thing to stop it either. So, I was a coward as well. The chances of everyone turning against me were far too great so I chose to do nothing, back the head bully by proxy, stand there being nasty and watch a lot of kids be genuinely afraid. A group of pre-teens responsible for inflicting gut-wrenching pain on other 10 year olds. Someone should make a movie out of it. It was awful.
I often think about those days wondering how everyone is doing and ask myself whether or not what I did changed them as a person. Whether I altered how they felt about themselves or the world and if I played a part in thwarting their already trying load. And the answer is neon light obvious. Of course I did. What I allowed to happen back then changed everything for them.
To be a bully was never my intention, but when I was asked to join the bully squad (cleverly disguised as the popular squad) I felt like a star.
I’d always been a timid child so when my family moved from a big city to a smaller town all I wanted to do was fit in and be part of this new community. And if that meant being silent and watch a girl be punched, pushed and kicked around, then I would. And if that meant betraying a trusting friend, then I would. And if that meant that I’d have to lie and cheat, then I would. I would’ve done about anything to avoid being picked on myself. Those were not my glory days but it happened nevertheless. People do mean things. Girls can be mean. I was mean. But it’s not so much the meanness I want to address today but the underlying cowardice that feeds it.
We don’t always know how to be brave or do the right thing even when we sense that what we’re doing is wrong. We’re mostly concerned with having friends, being cool and doing everything in our power to keep those cool friends. It just works that way for most of us. Not everyone starts out a hero. And neither did I.
Haven’t you ever been jealous of some girl and wished her dead? Hoping that one day she’d get hit by a train or get run over by a bus? Or when in more merciful spirits, you merely wanted her to be mauled over by a severe case of the chicken pox , leaving her scarred for life? Burnt, ugly and turned into a pariah? Well I have and I did.
As a child I got into some fights, punched a few girls, slapped one or two boys and foul mouthed my way toward physical victory. I bullied other girls for no apparent reason whatsoever. They were either too sweet, too pretty, too quiet or too smart; it could’ve been anything to be honest. I was just jealous and it was my selfish way of dealing with fear. But you know what? I have forgiven myself for the things I did back then. Those 2 years were the result of childish ignorance. I wasn’t a bad kid, just a scared one.
The things I did as an adolescent and young woman though, were less free of guilt. You would’ve never guessed my evil thoughts by just looking at me. I was way too cute and naive looking to be a mean person. But mean I was nevertheless. The things that went on in my head embarrasses me still but I’m purging anyway.
Instead of being honest about how I felt about some people and trying to initiate some sort of constructive dialogue, I slapped them across the face and punched them in the stomach. In spirit I mean. When I walked past a college ‘friend’ or colleague I ignored her on purpose, didn’t say hello and made sure she felt what I set out to accomplish. Which was to make her feel bad, lonely and worthless. You know, the sneaky girl’s way of making yourself feel better by means of silent bitch warfare. And it worked. Every. Single. Time.
You see, there are 2 sorts of mean. The obvious, very physical making people cry kind of mean and the sort of mean that turns into an addictive habit because it has become part of your self-protective system. The kind of mean that is subtle and doesn’t look like mean but is disguised as anger or jealousy or judgement. The kind of mean that almost everyone (yes you too) has been guilty of being at one time or another.
And you know what? It isn’t good enough to use your childhood as an excuse anymore. We’ve all had crappy childhoods but you cannot keep looking back if you want to grow in life.
It will not suffice to say you’re having problems and never meant to hurt someone. You always have a choice. I’m not even sure if this resonates with you but if it does, if you feel an opening in your heart and mind and recognize something of truth in this story, then dig it out. Open yourself up to the possibility of a better you. Not in the very least for the people in your life but most especially for you. Nobody wants to be a coward. Everyone wants to be acknowledged for who they are. It’s not selfish to want people to like you. It’s healthy. It’s normal. You’re human.
I mean think with me for a second. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have everyone like you for you? For the person that you are? In spite of your crooked nose? For your flat butt and post pregnancy belly? Because of your poorly chosen jokes? For the way you laugh and dance and cry? Wouldn’t it be glorious to have people ask for the whole of you because of the way you made them feel?
So, stop competing. You’ll be fighting an uphill battle. There will always be someone prettier or richer or smarter than you but no one will ever in a million years be you. Find minute wisdom in these words and half of the job will be done. Well maybe a third but still you’d be well on your way to being the best version of yourself.
I am never jealous anymore. I love everyone in this world and can be truly selfless. I volunteer on regular basis for the Salvation Army and help out every Wednesday at the local center for asylum seekers.
Impressed? I thought you might be but don’t worry, I lied.
Of course I don’t do these things. Of course I’m jealous sometimes. And of course I run into people that bring out the dormant bitch in me. I am by no means a saint. On days that are sappy I tend to forget how fabulous I am and I can’t seem to find my way back to positive thinking. It is hard to like anyone actually. I’m flawed people, it’s as simple as that, but I’m not a monster . And I would be lying if I said it was always easy for me. It’s not.
Like when I ran into a really annoying gorgeous smart lady and I’m ready to pull out my imaginary boxing gloves, because I smiled at her and she didn’t smile back, so I want to break her nose but I really can’t because she turns out to be my new boss.
Yes that really happened. But you know what I did? I pretended she was my sister.
I immediately go into love mode when I do that. I call it the ‘blood rule’. Just imagine that someone is your sister, or when you’re really having a hard time, your mother and I promise you it’ll take the edge off. It may sound farfetched but it actually works. Try it some time. It changed everything for me.
You know why? Because it’s just more fun to be kind. Being kind makes me feel strong. Like the hero that I was supposed to be all along. And now I cannot stop. I just want to do more good. And you know what happens when you do good right? Good finds you. I talk about this all the time and I will say it again now. It is NOT possible to give love if you don’t give it to yourself first.
The more you will appreciate the things in life and about yourself, the less of a need you’ll have to compare yourself to others. My newfound heroism didn’t happen overnight though. It was a gradual process and I needed time to grow a sense of self.
If you have been taught to fit in and be like everyone else (even when done in love and with the best of intentions) it will take you longer to really know who you are and what you want for yourself. After all you’ve been too busy trying to be someone else and live up to other people’s expectations. The sooner you begin saying no to stuff that doesn’t feel good and saying yes to good things, the sooner you will know what you are about and the sooner you’ll be able to genuinely be happy for someone else, even if your life isn’t perfect at that time.
I like standing up for people who can’t do that for themselves. And knowing that I can make a tiny difference in a person’s life by simply saying that she looks beautiful or that I like the way he carries himself, is by far one of the best feelings in the world .
So how do we do this in real life? What if you have a ‘friend’ that is mean to you? What do you do then? Well, it’s not that difficult. Just walk away. Don’t waste your time and energy on people that won’t meet you half way or don’t take responsibility for their behaviour. It’s not your problem but if you let it get to you, it will be. You don’t want that.
If I try and fail I will have been secure in the knowledge that I was at the very least kind. That is not failure. That is success overload.
Sending you a bucket full of pretty girls all the way from here to wherever you are.