I’m not sure there’s anyone who hasn’t been bullied at some time in their life. It’s horrid. Many of us have been the bully who’s been unkind to others because we didn’t understand that being different is part of being human. Yet the bullying cycle continues.
Where do bullies hang out?
Bullies are part of our everyday existence unfortunately. They are everywhere. For some people they don’t feel able to get away from them.
They’re at school, at home, in the workplace, in the sports team, in the parents group, in the social group, in the religious community. They are everywhere, even where we least expect it. But they are part of our lives so we need to learn that being different is actually what we’re meant to be. It’s those who try to mould us into their image who are different from the rest of us.
I was bullied for being different
At primary school I was bullied for being different. In my village I was bullied for being different.
I lived in a village 3 miles from school and I was driven there every day. There were only two families who travelled from my village, (in fact we lived in the same road), to this school. Everyone else got the bus from the top of the road to the other local primary school. So I was different in every place I wanted to fit in.
My parents chose the primary school for all the right reasons. They loved me and wanted the best for me and my brother. Yet their choice made us stick out like a sore thumb. I didn’t fit in anywhere.
We went to church 7 miles away. Our lives were connected from my young childhood with communities further away from my local community. I felt different everywhere, yet I knew I was loved.
Trying to fit in
When all you want to do is fit in and be the same as everyone else, as a young child you do everything you can to make yourself the same. Yet you never can. You’ll always be different. You’ll always be unique.
When I went to secondary school it was easier as I was with a group of girls who I think all felt different in their own way. We had all passed the 11+ and all travelled miles to go to school each day. We were together in our uniqueness and own brilliance. Yet we still all tried to fit in with “the crowd” we most identified with.
When you try and fit in with a crowd you often try and hide part of your unique self. You may start listening to music that those in the group you want to be with listen to, even though it’s not your favourite. You may start watching a particular TV programme or youtube channel because others in that group do and you want to be able to talk about with them. Or, you may stop doing something you love because you believe this is what’s stopping you from fitting in.
Growing up is unique to each of us
Whilst we all develop through the same stages of life, with body changes, hormone changes and learning life skills and social skills, we’ll all do this at different times. When I had my children I was given a “red book” to chart their development, mainly their weight to start with, and I was led to believe they had to follow a particular curve or they’d be classed as freaks.
Needless to say, as a breastfeeding mother, when I learnt that the tables used were based on formula fed babies I stopped attending baby clinic as my babies would never follow the ‘pattern’ as set out in the book. They were unique and I knew and understood their health and development better than anyone. [I’m sure someone will take me to task on this as I know not everyone is aware of their baby’s or child’s health or development. That may be a conversation for another day.]
So now as a mother of two healthy, happy teenage sons, having watched them discover their uniqueness and watching them trying to fit in to all sorts of groups, I understand even more that growing up is totally unique for each and every one of us.
Each of us have different parents, with different values, come from different cultures with different family traditions, and are all told different things by those closest to us. If our parents have different values to each other that can cause difficulties within the home environment. We may feel drawn to one perspective more than the other, or spend more time and be influenced by one carer in our life more than others. That will shape us.
Yet we’re still unique and different.
Being listened to helps you be yourself
If you are in an environment where you’re listened to, and allowed to be yourself and share your ideas, you’ll become more comfortable with your uniqueness at an early age. That doesn’t mean you’ll not try and fit in with those you want to hang out with! It usually means you’re happier in your own skin than some you spend time with.
Yet what can you do if you’re not being listened to? If you’re not valued at home or in the place where you spend a lot of time? It can be hard, especially as a child or teenager who feels like this. Yet you deserve to be listened to. You need to be listened to, so that you can discover who you really are without judgement. You can decide who you want to hang out with and what your own values are.
Many schools now have pastoral teams who you can talk to and share what’s on your mind. It doesn’t mean you’ve got a mental health issue. It just means you need a place to talk and allow yourself to hear your own words. You don’t have to be bullied to use this service.
You may have friends or a grandparent or aunt/uncle who you trust and respect who you can talk to, without them judging you and what you have to say. They love you and care for you for who you are. Your unique self.
If neither of these are an option for you, there may be a listening service in your area. Some schools are setting up listening services so you can simply talk about whatever you want, in confidence. They aren’t for fixing you, as you don’t need fixing, you’re perfect as you are. But these services recognise that not everyone has a trusted person to share things with.
You are wonderful as your unique self. You are different, but that’s what makes you so amazing. I hope it doesn’t take you as long to realise that it’s OK to be you and not hide any aspect of your brilliance.
If you want to rediscover your brilliance that you’ve been hiding from, book an explore call & let’s forget the bullies. They’re not worth our energy anymore.