As a child…
I was bullied.
Whether it was because of my autistic sister, my height, my body, my glasses my grades, I found myself regularly cast out and ridiculed. No matter how well I did in a test, no matter how good I sang or danced, I was never good enough for my peers to consider me worthy of their friendship.
So, knowing no better, I fought back when I could with my fists, against those who hurt me. When knocked down, I came back up swinging not caring who was in the way. I grew up in an incredibly aggressive household, and at the time I knew no different. There is never any excuse for aggression or violence, and I regret to this day those flying fists.
As a teenager…
I was bullied.
Whether is was because of my sister, my grades, my sexuality, because I was too confident talking to boys, my dancing, my singing, I found myself regularly cast out and ridiculed by certain people.
It is unfortunate that I retaliated, not with my fists as I had learned violence and aggression were the tools of the primitive mind, but with words designed to hurt. It’s even more unfortunate that these weapons weren’t aimed at those who sought to hurt me, but innocent bystanders. I hate this part of my history, and know I hurt those people unnecessarily and there’s no reason or excuse for that.
It sickens me to remember how much of a bitch I was, how much of a bully I was, spitting small, hurtful barbs designed to burn bridges.
Coming from a broken family with a lifetime’s experience with aggression and abuse, with an undiagnosed neurological disorder, and undiagnosed depression and anxiety, I was pretty messed up.
But… aren’t most young people kinda messed up?
Hormones, emotions, depression, anxiety, stress all battling for attention whilst blindly preparing for an unknown future – it’s hard to be prepared for any situation, especially anything relating to mental health and bullying, without support.
And up until recently, how many of us really got the support, advice and guidance we needed from those people older than us when we were young? Mental health wasn’t spoken of in previous generations, and their responses to bullying were always along the lines of “harden up”, “toughen up”, “grow a pair”.
Burn or be burned.
I’ll hurt you before you can hurt me.
As an adult…
Thankfully, we’re not teenagers anymore, and we have a much greater understanding of mental health than we did even a decade ago.
We’re no longer navigating hormones and emotions, we have have learned the lessons our elders didn’t think to teach us, we’re paying our taxes, able to walk in high heels, and we’re drinking wine for breakfast (wait, only me?)
We’re adults – we have that shit sorted.
Yes we’re anxious, depressed, obsessive, but we’re also all hustlers using our streetsmarts and business acumen to create and live our best lives.
Yet, every blogger I follow, these fierce women (and men) who are manifesting their own destinies, have had experiences with bullying recently. Not as children, not as teenagers, but within the past few months.
I am constantly seeing the negative impact of bullying in people’s twitter feeds, and it is heartbreaking to see that despite all we have learned since leaving school, we’re still putting up with this behaviour – both online, and in our personal and professional lives.
So, why, despite being in our twenties and thirties, despite being adults, are we still being bullied?
Adult bullying is a form of control.
It’s a form of emotional or psychological aggression that unfortunately leaves no mark – the bullies can claim they can’t see the harm they’ve caused, and the victims question the reality of it.
It’s pretty messed up.
But what incites someone to want to be in control of a situation?
Typically, people will react in this manner if they feel threatened or confused or out of their depth. The bully will try to level the playing field in an emotional or psychological manner so they’re not “drowning”. You’ve seen how when someone is struggling for air, they’ll often push the closest person beneath the water, to push themselves out of the water for air?
It may not be intentional, in fact it’s a very primal and instinctive thing to do, but as adults, surely we’re aware enough to understand how our actions can impact those around us to rise above this behaviour, right?
As adults, there is no excuse for belittling, humiliating or acting in any negative capacity towards your peers or colleagues. Especially if it is a reaction to our own insecurities.
Surely, the better reaction when feeling threatened or intimidated is to not bully them into submission, but learn from the experience – why are we threatened? Why are we intimidated? How can I use this to improve myself as a person?
Surely it’s better to support each other for air, than let someone drown.
After all, we’re adults – we’re supposed to have our shit together.
This week is anti-bullying week.