People are critical. We compare ourselves to others and magnify the flaws of those around us, often times not even intentionally. We’re assholes, not only to other people but to ourselves. In recent years, bullying has become a huge topic of conversation and everyone is scrambling to try to stop it, to prevent it, to mask it but the problem doesn’t lie in bullying itself and the answer isn’t to just “Stop it”.
We all become crusaders when bullying is brought up; talking like self-righteous Mother Theresas who care for the children of today. One minute we are discussing how awful it is that another kid committed suicide because he was being bullied and the next we are laughing at our adult acquaintance who looks like they got dressed in the dark this morning. We are all hypocrites and the root of the problem isn’t bullying, it’s our innate being and the socialization we have grown accustomed to.
We have to start working on who we are and building our own confidence and optimism before we can even think that bullying will disappear. We need to become better people who teach our children to see the good in everyone, as well as the good in themselves. And then we need to know that even on our most positive days and even if we raise an exceptional young person, there will be slip-ups. What we need to learn is how to keep those slip-ups to ourselves.
Judgement: We are all guilty of it no matter how nice of a person we are. It’s what makes us human but what we need to learn is how to become aware of it. You can be the nicest, most confident person but you still might cringe when you see someone who looks a little funny, a little different. What will separate you from a bully is keeping your opinion to yourself instead of laughing, pointing, or blatantly making fun of said person to their face (or behind their back—same thing). We all have opinions, we are all guilty of judging, but why do we so often feel like the rest of the world needs to know what we think? Why do we need to make others feel bad just so we can get a laugh and feel good?
Bringing bullying out of the closet and opening the discussion surrounding it is a start but the real beginnings need to start with you. Confidence is the key. Confidence will shelter you from bullying itself and will allow you to find the good in others, even if your immediate reaction is to laugh at their snaggle tooth. What we all need to remember is that most of the time, we are all going around hurting each others’ feelings and not even realizing we’re doing it. If we all gained a bit more confidence we would be able to let shitty comments roll off our backs and move on with our day.
They tell us it’s not that easy. It is no longer being taught that “Sticks and stones may break our bones but words will never hurt us” but I need to ask WHY is this not being taught? Why are we letting peoples’ WORDS hurt us, hurt our children, hurt a whole generation? Instead, why are we not teaching that yes, people may say shitty things that will sting but it doesn’t need to paralyze us. There’s no doubt that some mean words will stick in a person’s mind for years, maybe decades, but self-acceptance, self-esteem and understanding who we are and who we are not will allow for those scars to heal. We shouldn’t ALLOW ourselves to be held hostage by words uttered to us last week or 10, 15 years ago.
In the end, we are all innately bullies. It doesn’t matter if you’re bullying your neighbour or your reflection in the mirror, at the end of the day you’re guilty. So, maybe instead of putting all this focus on the negative (bullying) we should start paying attention to the positives and start remembering the insightful words of one Cady Heron (Mean Girls): “Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. And ruining [someone’s] life definitely [won’t] make [you] any happier”. Judgments may always cross your mind but the test will come with what you do with those thoughts: Put the negativity out in the world and bullying will never cease to exist but keep your mouth shut and focus on the positives and maybe, one day, we will see a change.
In the mean time, don’t let anyone put you down and don’t allow words or actions define who you are. Confidence is the vessel that will help you sail through life, just don’t let a shipwreck end your journey too soon.
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
The Love Hawk