I was not a very big kid. I was average height. Skinny. My thinking was different. I could’ve cared less about the stuff my classmates and others my age considered “popular.” I was quiet when I was around those my age. I was more vocal with older kids and adults. I wore glasses, had a voice that was a little nasally. I loved to read and I had an over-active imagination. Between 4th grade and 8th grade, I was the perfect target for bullies.
My experience with bullies was so surreal. I was picked on and talked about for what felt like everything: for the way I walked, the way I talked, the words I would say, for just being nice or polite or for just existing. I was laughed at. Guys would insult me, call me out and call me things I will not repeat in this article. Girls would consider me gross. I would walk the hallways of my school, dreading what felt like the walk of shame consisting of whispers, pointing and giggling.
On occasion, I would have that one, or two, kids who would spend half of their day following me around just to try and get my attention by calling me names, picking on me in every way possible. They would attempt to pick fights with me. They would try and do things like push me or shove me around. If they did it long enough, I would snap, and attempt to fight back. I didn’t do this too much as to avoid getting into more trouble. I would tell adults, but, with some adults, it fell on deaf ears. They either didn’t want to deal with it or just didn’t care. Their were some who did respond and react. Thankfully, my Mom and Dad took action and did everything they possibly could, from talking to the school to teaching me self-defense.
I wore regular clothes like any normal kid, I had good hygiene, I was kind, what more did my classmates want!? What made me a target!? In fact, what’s potentially making you a target for bullies!? That’s simple, you’re identity! Being yourself!
One kid in 8th grade was a so-called “popular” kid who constantly talked about the clothes I wore, the way I talked (which was mostly in a way that would be considered ‘proper English’ rather than slang, which I reserved only for closer friends, NOT public use), and the way I walked. One day, he pulled me aside, and tried to “teach” me how to be “cool.” A year later, he was a grade level behind me because he was flunking his classes and skipping school.
These were my bullies: the individuals who lacked real understanding and grasping of their identity. They were fakes. They lacked self-esteem. They were angry people. They lashed out against people like me, people who truly made a conscious effort to be themselves, daring to be different from the rest.
In spite of the bullying I experienced, I didn’t have the desire to do harm to myself and I barely desired to harm anyone else. I did try to defend myself (but only if absolutely necessary), but, bullying now has become more complex. Bullying is not only occurring on the school grounds or play grounds, but, also online. So many are taking deadly measures while others are simply hiding themselves in the shadows, desperately wanting to speak out but afraid of ridicule or being accused of being weak.
So, the question remains, how did I survive a large part of my boyhood with bullies to my left and right? How am I surviving the bullies of my adulthood!? My response to this particular situation was in a sermon I preached about a year ago, with my topic entitled, “How To Handle Your Bullies.” This will be covered in Part 3 of the “Cartoon Daily News” bullying articles.