And so the A-Z memoirs continue! A few weeks ago I wrote about how, as children, we try to figure out what is sociably acceptable and how to fit in with our peers. Bullying at school is one of the biggest issues we face today as a society, and with the growing number of methods such as social media used to target youngsters, it is more difficult than ever to find a place to feel safe and protected.
I did not fit in at school (who did right?). But while most non-popular kids blended into the background as part of a defence tactic, I somehow managed to make myself an easy target.
I may have been ridiculously shy, awkward, insecure and anxious, but I was argumentative and stubborn in my beliefs to go with it. Answering back to those who I felt were treating others unfairly, be it to me or someone else, was not ok for someone on my (un)popularity scale. If I heard or saw something I didn’t agree with, I would speak up.
But I had none of the vocabulary to do so eloquently, or even convincingly, and often I wished I had just kept my mouth shut, as I eventually got cut down to size and bullied into submission by those more assured than myself.
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.