A new week, a new category in the A-Z! Bullying; a cause, rather than a symptom. Something that we often carry into our adult lives, be it low self-esteem or social anxieties. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who hasn’t had some form of bullying and it remains a serious issue both in our children’s lives as well as for us as adults.
Back in the early 90s, mental health was still in its diagnostic infancy. I was what was described back then as a ‘worrier’. Anxiety wasn’t something I or my family had ever really heard of in terms of happening to every-day people like us. I wasn’t suffering from panic-attacks, and there was still an overriding trust of doctors’ diagnoses back then. A time before the internet and Daily Mail health scare tactics.
I have never felt ‘normal’. Having always been naturally very shy (who would have thought this loud mouth was shy!), I would always turn bright red whenever anyone talked to me – something I still suffer from to this day! This made me too embarrassed to speak up in class, and meeting new people was distressing. A vicious circle ensued, where the more I became aware of my social awkwardness, the worse it got.
I hated myself for not measuring up to what appeared to be societies expectations of me.
From very early on in life, we look to our peers to try to identify what is and isn’t sociably acceptable. We observe other children that we go to school with, as this is our first real association with people outside of our family unit bubble. We use this as a measure – an indicator – as to who/what we should be. In trying to discover who we are, we emulate and ‘try on’ different tastes and behaviours to see if they fit. When they don’t or we discover that we act and think differently to those around us, most of us haven’t yet reached the maturity or strong sense of self that allows us to revel in our uniqueness. Instead we feel like freaks.
As children we don’t want to be unique; we just want to be the same as everybody else.
No matter how much our parents tell us that being unique is far more valuable than following the crowd, in the battlefield of the playground all that matters is that you’re saying the right thing, whilst wearing the right clothes, listening to the right music. The irony is of course that most of our class-mates were probably experiencing the same struggles, too afraid to speak openly about it, terrified of revealing their ‘abnormality’.
I was different. I didn’t fit in. Never managing to get the right clothes, know the right pops stars or say cool things, I was chastised for even trying. But I didn’t help myself. I could have just sat there quietly, blending into the background, being invisible. It would have been better for me if I had completely retreated.
But I didn’t.
Find out why in my next post which will focus on Bullying at School.
As always, please feel free to email me through my contact page if you would like to know anything more about what I have written.
Further Reading: Why Not Fitting In Makes You An Awesome Adult
Image courtesy of Simon Howden at FreeDigitalPhotos.net