Personal Growth

I was Bullied

Today is World Day of Bullying Prevention.  I didn’t know that when I wrote this post for today. Weird.

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I have a confession to make.  I was bullied as a kid. I never told anyone as an adult because I was afraid if they knew they would see me as weak, they would think they could bully me too.  I have a tough job where having a thick skin comes in handy. What if my clients knew I was bullied? I shudder to think what that might be like.

The reason this is important is that it has an effect on how I’ve built my suit of armor since my days of being bullied.  I’m like a female Iron Man, summoning my armor at will.

The Armor.  I do not care what people think.  Of course, I do care what people think, which is why I built the armor in the first place.  But I won’t let ‘what people think’ stop me from doing something. This has worked out well for the most part, giving me the courage to do things that others won’t.  What I missed what that the armor also blocks you from the good stuff.

They tell you to develop a thick skin so things don’t get to you. What they don’t tell you is that your thick skin will keep everything from getting out, too. Love, intimacy, vulnerability.
— Viola Davis

The Better-Than Box.  I’ve taken great pains to make you think that I’m cool and always have been.  I occasionally call myself a “nerd” just so I’m covered in case you notice. Have I made you feel like I’m better than you?  Mission accomplished. If I’m better than you, nothing you can say will hurt me.

I was hugely motivated to prove that I’m worthy, to prevail over the bullies. And years later, I am in fact more successful than the bullies. But really, who cares? I feel sad when I see what has become of these people. The payoff just isn’t there for me.

Bully someone else.  I’ve asked myself if I’ve bullied others as a result.  Maybe I have. At the very least, I have judged people harshly as a result. I’ve heard that this is a common phenomenon. Why? I don’t want people to feel how I felt. It’s more of a protective measure. I am not seeing you as a victim, I’m seeing you as a potential bully.   

The Fear.  The fear that I carry with me, is that no matter how good, smart or successful I am, someone can always say “you’re ugly/nerdy/fat” and nothing else will matter.  You may know of politicians who prey on these fears. It’s powerful.

Bullies at work.  Bullies at work don’t come in the same package as bullies in the schoolyard. They’ve evolved, but they’re still there. Using shame as in influence tool is bullying.  Yelling and interrupting to get people to back down is bullying. I vow to call it out and shut it down.  I vow to call on my Iron Man armor and use it to end bullying at all ages.